|My son has been wanting to participate in a
pinewood derby ever since he saw my two cars from when I was a kid.
We don't have him in Boy Scouts so I didn't think he would ever get the
chance. What I didn't know was that AWANA Clubs have a similar race and use
the Boy Scout cars, rules, and track.
On Wednesday my sons tells my wife and I that he needs to take in $5 to
buy a car like Dad's because they were selling them this week (he didn't
mention a race). So on Wednesday night he took his own
money over to buy the car and that's when we find out that they are
having a race and it's the NEXT Saturday at 9AM....3 days away and come to
find out that they've been advertising it for the last two months.
Side note: Our kids go to AWANA at a different church than the one we are
members of and attend regularly, Fellowship Church.
I see the excitement in my son's eyes and I'm think of the demo I have to give on
Friday and the extra work I need to get done to get it ready....I
was planning on doing it the next night, Thursday night. My
wonderful wife looks at me and says "You know your building that car don't
you?". She was right, it had to be done!
So that Wednesday night I started Googling for tips and tricks to build
a car and found some really good resources like Maximum-Velocity and The Ultimate
Pinewood Derby Site and sketched out a design for my son to look at
and approve of. All I knew for sure was that he wanted it to look
like the Incredimobile
from the Incredibles movie. The following day I contacted a very
good friend of mine asking him to pray for me as I was stressing pretty
bad and I didn't want to let my son down (or lose my job). He
pointed me to his AWANA group's page at
Missions and he talked to me about stuff he had done etc..and that
helped me to calm down. I also contacted my older brother who had done
work on my cars as a kid and has built cars with his two sons for Boy
Scouts. During lunch I went over to Hobby Lobby and picked up some
weights, paint, and a speed kit. So I felt like I was armed with the
info now it was time to execute!
Thursday Day 1
As soon as I got home from work we
ran on over my Father-In-Law's house who has a band saw and let us use it
to cut out the design. Brett started sanding away at the rough edges
while my FIL and I worked on "de-burring" the axles and making them as
smooth as we could. We finally left there about 8pm and headed
home. We had work to do so Brett got to stay up extra late that
night and we were having tons of fun. We finally finished up the
sanding and put on a coat of primer. After that pretty much dried we
put on our first coat of base paint and that was it for Brett as it was
now pushing 11pm. I stayed up a bit later put on a second coat of
paint and put the wheels and axles in a bag of graphite so they could
start the process of being a well oiled machine....then I crashed.
Friday Day 2
I talk with my wife as I'm getting
ready for work and ask her if she would be able to come up with a stencil
to use to paint on the Incredibles logo and maybe she and Brett could take
a stab at painting it during the day. I talk with her later that day
and they've done both except that the red paint wasn't working as expected
and the blue I bought was just too light to cover the black and red paint
that it was suppose to. So I started freaking out a little but I was
OK. After I get home from work I see that we're needing to sand off
the paint for the logo and try again but I know we're running out of time
with the paint since I know we still need to put in the weights and
axles. These aren't very time consuming but they are the most
important piece to a fast car and I could mess up wet paint while trying
to install them.
BTW, this night I was taking my wife out to dinner for her birthday -
we ate at Kirby's and had a
great time. We're now back at the house and it's pushing 9pm but we
chit-chat with my brother and sister-in-law for about an hour before we
start working on the car again.
Now that it's about 11pm we begin working again and the first thing is
to sand off the painted logo that's not working and put on another coat of
black to cover our tracks. My wife decided we should use home-made
decals instead of paint (and she was right). She used the sketch
that Brett and I used earlier to make up the decals using her Xyron and
Memories scrapbook paper. She even found piece of reflective
paper that Brett just thought was soooo cool.
After the paint had dried it was time for Dad to test his skills at
drilling two 3/8" x 4" holes in the backside of the car. I know that
if I mess this up the race is over... I tried it first on a scrap piece of
wood and didn't do so bad but I was still nervous and said a nice prayer
before I began on the real thing. Well, I didn't mess it up and the
holes for the weights were complete. I glued in the weights and put
in some wood filler and now the car was weighing in at 4.7oz (limit is
5oz). My wife put on the sharp decals and we put on a clear coat to
hold it all in place and to make a clean/smooth surface. It was now
pushing 1AM, Brett had been in bed for a while, and all that was
left were the wheels and axles. I set the alarm for 3AM so the clear
coat would have a couple of hours to dry and the wheels would have a few
hours to dry before race time at 9AM.
Saturday Day 3
It's 3AM and I wake up after a two
hour nap and try and figure out what I'm doing. I check the car and
the clear coat is pretty dry and so I go and get the wheels and axles from
the bag of graphite. I've read where you need to have the axle flush
with the bottom edge of the car an not pushed all the way into the
pre-made groove. Man, that's tough especially when you're not
wanting to break anything. I get them all in and now I'm rolling it
about 10 feet so I can see if it's rolling straight or not (that's huge in
pinewood derby since the less friction the better). I messed with
them until I thought they were about right and then glued them in
place. Now time for more sleep until 7:30AM.
7:30 comes quickly but now I'm ready to go and Brett is up and so
excited he can hardly stand still. I'm excited for him too and all I
want is for the car to make it down the track without falling a
part. We get up to the church about 8:10 and find out that 9AM means
everything starts at 9AM. I was expecting the racing to begin then
and I know we would need to weigh in the car etc. So anyway, we're
there and get to mingle a little and weigh the car. I new we were a
little light so I took some stick on weights to make up the difference and
so with them in place we were at 4.96oz...and we find out that there are
101 cars signed up to race...YIKES!! My wife and the girls get there
about 9:40 and the first races begin about 10AM. We will have to
wait about 40 cars before Brett's turn as we're #46.
As the races begin we see some do well and some not so well but the
kiddos are all having a blast and I'm so glad we are doing this; I
feel like I'm 7 again. The four-lane track is a Boy Scout
track and is pretty hi-tech in my opinion - starting line and time
was controlled from a remote PC and the finish line had a sensor to stop
the clock when the cars crossed in each lane. Each car would run 4
races (one in each lane) and the winners in each grade would be determined
by lowest accumulated time. So far most cars were running about 4.4
secs with some as a low as 4.3. Then I guess about car 20 or so
there was nice little car that was white and had a TCU logo painted on it. This car was
FAST! It beat all of the cars in its races easily and finished all 4
races in the 4.2's. This one was here to win and I was just hoping
our car would make all four races.
They announce over the PA that it's time for car #46 to race.
Brett goes and gets his car off of the "pit" table and gives it to the guy
setting up the cars and then heads down to the finish line. The
moment has arrived. The race begins and all we see is our
Incredimobile taking the lead down the hill and then accelerate when it
hits the flat part of the track and win the heat by a good margin.
WOW!! Brett is sooo excited (you know hopped up on
nerves and adrenaline excited) he's jumping up and down and yelling.
I couldn't be more happy and proud of him at that moment. Then the
Dad part of me kicks in because I see his excitement and all I'm
imagining was that car flying out of his hand and breaking into little
pieces before it runs another race. So he settles down and moves
back up to the starting line. I then peer over at the times and his
car ran a 4.238 time...putting him in the lead for fastest time of the day
(ahead of car TCU). I looked over at my darling wife and we were
just dumbfounded. The car runs another 2 races and each time is
faster than the next, 4.198 and 4.167 respectively. Then to cap it
off his final race came in at 4.156. Brett is still so hopped
up and excited we just hug him and give a lot of high-fives and we're all
just having so much fun. Brett doesn't know that his car, to this
point, is the fasted of the day with an accumulative time of 16.749.
All the cars finished up and our little car was still the fastest of
the day. Brett still didn't know it until they put up the final
times of the day and he saw him name atop of the list up on the
screen. He was so excited and didn't know what to do with
himself. He was awarded a medal for winning his grade and his smile
from ear to ear.
Man, from a few days of basically no sleep and tons of stress to being
so excited...It was awesome!! Hopefully we are building life long
memories that we will all share and keep with us forever. The Lord
ps. I did my demo and it didn't go as well as it could've but
I'm still employed and had a great weekend with my family.