Little wheels keep on turning

The tradition of the Pinewood Derby alive and well in Craig


When asked the question, 7-year-old Colby Beckett's attention shifts away from his buddies, his eyes narrow and the short simple words of his answer come out cool and confident.

Do you think you'll win?


"Yeah, I'm going to win," said Colby, while holding his small chariot of victory. "My dad helped me with it. It's really cool."

The object Colby refers to is a pine warhorse decorated in black and red camouflage dubbed "Upside Down Driver."

Today, Colby and 30 to 40 other kids, ranging from 6 to 10 years old, will take part in a tradition among sons and fathers dating back to 1953.

The Pinewood Derby.

The official name for today's Craig event is the Cub Scout Pack No. 166 Pinewood Derby, which begins at 10 a.m. at the Centennial Mall. The event, which could feature anywhere from 60 to 80 races, is free and open to the public.

Like all the Speed Racers in today's contest, Colby didn't start out with much in building his car: A wooden block, four wheels and four nails. All told, a car kit costs about $5 and can be purchased on the Internet.

However, the sum of these cars isn't their parts, rather it is the builders' imagination.

A pre-race weigh-in of the cars Thursday at the American Legion Post on County Road 7 revealed just how eclectic of features the kid car-builders put into their derby entries.

There's midnight blue, canary yellow, Beckett's camo red and black, and Tiger Stripe paint jobs.

There are some with drivers mounted and some that will be piloted by gravity alone.

There are different shapes, different angles and different weights.

Outside of a few basic rules and requirements -- cars must not weigh more than 5 ounces and be no longer than 7 inches -- the car's creation is left largely to the competitors. Well, them and a little help from Dad.

"The goal, what you're trying to do, is have the kids do it themselves with supervision only," said Randy Looper, a Cub Scout leader and one of the derby's organizers. "You might have to have two or three car (kits) to start out."

He said the Pinewood Derby has maintained popularity throughout the years because it gives kids a fun activity and a chance to learn basic tool skills.

"This is one of those things that makes Cub Scouting fun," Looper said.

The Pinewood Derby originated in 1953 in Manhattan Beach, Calif. Popularity spread quickly, and within a year, the event was adopted for use by all Cub Scout packs.

The event's founder, Don Murphy, said he came up with the idea as a "wholesome, constructive activity that would foster a closer father-son relationship and promote craftsmanship and good sportsmanship through competition."

And, based on the comments from two people involved in the Craig derby, mission accomplished.

Colby said one of most fun aspects of building his car was spending time with and having help from his dad, Foster. Painting the car was pretty fun, too, he said.

"One spray filled the whole car up with paint," Colby said.

Cindy Looper, Randy's wife and a Scout leader and derby organizer, reminded a group of Scouts at the Thursday weigh-in that the derby is more than winning and losing.

"That's what it's all about -- having fun and learning things," Looper said to the kids. "Did you have fun? Yeah, (so) you've already won, haven't you?"

If you go

What: Craig Cub Scout Pack No. 166 Pinewood Derby

When: 10 a.m. today

Where: Centennial Mall

  • The event is free and open to the public. Races begin at 10 a.m. and should conclude about 2 p.m.

Joshua Roberts can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or

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