El Dorado Hills Cub Scouts cheer on Pinewood Derby

By: Menka Belgal, Telegraph Correspondent
-A +A

Cub Scouts from Pack 454 in El Dorado Hills put their design skills to the test Saturday during the annual Pinewood Derby held at Silva Valley Elementary School.

A month prior to the race, the boys were given an official kit consisting of a block of wood 7” long, 1 3/4” wide and 1 1/4” high, four wheels and four nails (axils) from which they built their car. Once the car is built, it undergoes a rigorous inspection to make sure it conforms to the rules of the race which include weight and dimensions. The car is also scrutinized for illegal lubricants and parts that may have been used to make the car go faster.

Some boys and their parents spent weeks on their cars baking the wood to remove moisture, researching the perfect design for speed, carving the design, sanding and painting the car dozens of times, polishing the axils, adding weights to reach the maximum 5 ounces permitted, thinning down the wheels and testing it for speed against another car down a makeshift track. Others, like Ethan Anderson, threw together his car with the help of his parents the night before the race and won the Sam Harry trophy for speed last year.

Sheryl Anderson, Ethan’s mother, divulged their secret.

“If you put the weights (we used canopy weights) in the back, it makes the car go faster,” she said. “This causes one of the front wheels to be raised a hair off the track so that the car runs on just three wheels.”

On the other hand, Jake Fermigli, overall winner for speed this year for Pack 454, when asked about his secret replied, “I don’t have one.”

His sleek, wedged-shaped car with rounded corners, thinned wheels and weights on the underside displayed all signs of a car built for speed.

Being a Webelos 2 and his last race, Josh Carlsen, who placed first in his rank, spent three full days on his car. He helped with the sanding, painting and a little cutting. His parents did the rest. Asked what he learned from his five years of racing, he said, “Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. I’m bummed that this is my last race.”