Timed races, lifetime memories in Hinsdale
Todd Bucciarelli of HInsdale shows the Tiger Cubs from Pack 10 one of the entries in the pinewood derbyheld Saturday. | Steve Johnston~for Sun-Times Media
Did you know…
Derby Dad: Cubmaster Donald Murphy introduced the first gravity-powered wooden car race to Cub Scout Pack 280C of Manhattan Beach, Calif., in 1953
Top speed: Nearly 20 mph for gravity power, the equivalent of 200 mph for a full-sized vehicle
Production line: Nearly 100 million racers built by Scouts since 1953
All in a row: If all cars were lined up, they would stretch 7,000 miles from Charlotte, N.C. to the North Pole
Regulation dimensions: 2 ¾ inches wide, 7 inches long, weighing 5 ounces
Updated: April 1, 2013 2:02AM
HINSDALE — Pirate ships, Monopoly cars and hot rods competed in Cub Scout Pack 10’s pinewood derby Saturday.
Jack Erickson, 7, painted his car red and blue, the team colors of the Houston Texans, and put the number 99 on it, in honor of J.J. Watt, his favorite football player.
“He . . . is a defensive end and that is one of my favorite positions to play,” Jack said.
Jack said he did not care whether his car won any races. The fun was building the car.
“It‘s like building your own toy. And you can play with it.”
The participants’ effort is evident in what they create from a block of wood, said Todd Bucciarelli, the father of two Scouts, who has helped run the pinewood derby for Pack 10 for the past five years.
“There were quite a few elaborate designs,” Bucciarelli said, after the races held in the basement of Hinsdale’s Memorial Hall Saturday.
The majority of parents don’t take the competition “too seriously,” Bucciarelli said.
“Don’t get me wrong, there are always going to be people competitive about the race,” Bucciarelli said.
But, above all, the pinewood derby is an opportunity for dads and kids to work together on what is a significant accomplishment.
“I have good memories and I have bad memories,” said William Otto of Hinsdale, now an adult. “My dad would show me what I had to do.”
Otto sanded the wood, drilled holes and painted his entry for his first derby.
“My dad said wait for him to put the wheels on. But I was just dying to play with the car, so I put the wheels on myself,” Otto said.
Come race day, the car performed poorly. But he did not give up.
“My last year I won all but the last section. I came in third,” Otto said.
Nico Bucciarelli, 14, said when he was a Cub Scout, he was into reptiles. So one year, he made his car look like a crocodile, and another year it looked like his lizard Irwin.
But his father “would do the weights and the wheels and his secret stuff that he never told anyone,” Nico said.
“The wheels and the balancing of the wheels is the final step,” Todd Bucciarelli said.
There’s a fair amount you can do to affect the car’s speed, Bucciarelli said. The axles, for example, have ridges that should be smoothed out. Every tenth of a second faster is significant, he said.
Trophies are given not only for the five fastest cars in each age group, but also for the most unusual car, most creative, best workmanship and judge’s choice in each rank.
“I want to reward those that put the time and effort in,” Bucciarelli said.