Last Saturday were the local CAM Car Races, think pinewood derby invades Cameroon. I volunteered to run the event because the man who ran it in the past was not going to be in town for the week of the race, so I tried picking his brain as much as I could before he had to leave town, plus we had already told the boys about the race and they were looking forward to building and racing their cars.
Being the below average carpenter I was a little intimated about the prospect of helping everyone use the band saw, jig saw and all the other cutting tools that were in the Maintenance Shop every day after work for a week, but no one lost any fingers. Our boys had fun sanding, and when they started the detailing with the second coat of paint they just wanted to put the wheels on so they could race them. We will have to work on our painting skills for next year race. The official maximum weight of the cars is 142 grams, so the other dads were looking to me to get the cars up to the correct weight. So, we found some old lead bolts and melted them down and poured the melted lead into drilled out holes. I had to use the auto shops oxygen torch to get the lead to melt. We even took apart an old car battery to try and get more lead, but there isn’t much lead in a lead battery.
So the day before the race I set the track up with another dad and we worked for an hour or so to try and get the sensors working that would measure the exact time it took each car to go down the track. I was able to get the lights to work manually but the computer would only recognize one of the 3 sensors. Realizing I wasn’t going to be able to hop over to Radio Shack and buy some new ones we decided we would just have 3 judges decide who won each heat.
The day of the race we had 39 cars that entered to race! Thankfully I had a software package that automatically setup the various heats and after 2 hours of racing we had a room full of parents and kids cheering for the tie breaker for 1st place. I’ve already started thinking about how we can get the track ready for next year.
Jonah won most Oily Car (I guess I sprayed too much WD-40 on the axels) and Joshua won Most Likely to Win.
That brings back memories of Cub Scouts. Glad everyone had a good time. I did not know you were so talented with tools. I’m guessing you take after Grandpa Anderson. (You certainly didn’t get it from me)
Great post! When my oldest son was pinewood derby age we worked together on his first car. I didn’t know yet that most of the Dads build the cars though. At scouts a couple days before the race we brought in our car to be weighed and were amazed at the designs and polished paint jobs. One Dad had build a beautiful “hot rod red” tool box looking thing to store his racing supplies in complete with a car display platform that raised out of the box as the lid opened!
Our “car” with driver and steering wheel that had been removed from an old toy tractor, spray paint, and cheapo decals wasn’t much to look at. Neither of us felt the least bit bad about what we had built. We did it together and both realized without words that our experience together was the main point. I still smile about how much fun it was to do that together. I seem to remember we placed well in the race; but honestly can’t remember that part.
Thank you for writing and sharing your experience.
I’ve already begun looking for how I can update the track for next years race for automatic timing with LED lights connected to my computer. I think my kids would like to add more to their cars next year, I’ll have to see which toys they will be willing to take apart.
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