Suburban Dads Face Off At Cub Scout Event

The Pinewood Derby. 5 oz. wooden cars designed for maximum speed on a short track. Scores of 7 year old cub scouts vying for bragging rights and cheap trophies.

Apparently the pinewood phenomenon is a big industry with kits and parts and decals and performance enhancers etc. Each car is designed–ostensibly by the cub scout–for some combo of speed and style. The variety and sophistication was impressive:


The event was held in one of the seemingly endless fraternal lodge places that litter this corner of the world. The Order of Eagles, or the Divine Coven of Drinkers or something. It looked to be a place where men went to drink with other men who like to drink with men who have secret handshakes. There was one reserved parking spot. For the night bartender. Apparently an important fellow.

The first sign that something was amiss was the sight of several grown men in cub scout shirts. I don’t like to judge (yes I do), but that is an awfully silly sight. One look at these 50 super-styley former blocks of wood with wheels, now Indy and Nascar, with spoilers and racing flames, and you just knew the little scouts had little to do with their transformation.

This competition was between Dads. The stink of puffed up male pride was everywhere. The little cub scouts were a convenient cover for these men to vindicate whatever lacking in their boyhoods still nagged their aging hairlines. And they took the opportunity to turn blocks of wood into rolling magic.

The lessons learned by the fledgling scouts were not in engineering, style, aerodynamics or the spirit of competition. It was more like, how do I stay focused on the Nintendo Wii while my Dad is sanding and drilling behind me?

A boyhood fantasy played out by grown men through the lives of their little juniors.

Published in: on January 18, 2007 at 2:43 pm  Leave a Comment  

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