It’s “go-time” for a pack of 40 Wylie Cub Scouts as they celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Boy Scout’s Pinewood Derby – a beloved Scouting activity that not only builds great cars and memories but also skills that last a lifetime.
Russell Parramore, who grew-up scouting in the Big Country and has helped organize the event, said coming to the Pinewood Derby in Abilene is a cherished memory for him.
“I remember racing at the Mall of Abilene back in the early 80’s,” says Parramore. “Just coming to Abilene was a big deal and the excitement of racing with all the other cars and Scouts was huge. I remember it being really loud with cheering when your car won.”
According to Parramore, scouts start working on their cars over the holiday break, but some use the week before the derby to pull one together. The cars can be as creative as they like but must comply with certain guidelines to be eligible to race.
“Our family tries to start the car discussion during the break, production usually ends up as a two-week out job. We take it easy, first work on a design, then shape the wood,” he said. “After that we prep the axles and wheels and then paint and final construction,” he said. “Some groups work on theirs together — it all depends on the family.”
Parramore, who earned his Eagle Scout rank and has three sons who are Scouts said the Pinewood Derby is an activity that builds skills and allows for the scouts to be creative and have fun.
“I think at this age this event builds on imagination most of all. The imagination of a great looking car, a fast car that might win, and a family plan which attempts to bring the car design to a final project,” he said. “Of course, some kids learn how to use a saw, drill, and sandpaper; and…patience and time spent equals a better car. I emphasize that with my boys that the more you sand, the faster the finish will be. If you really go the extra mile, the discussion on physics and engineering comes into the picture.”
Parramore says sometimes the cars can look a little more like “dad-engineering” than the work of a 6-year-old, but that the event is all about having fun.
Once the Wylie Pack completes their races today (1/27) , they will host another race at 2 p.m. for scouts all over the Big Country. The racetrack is located at the Mall of Abilene near the El Chico Restaurant, Mezamiz Coffee House, and Hendrick entrances.
Parramore encourages the community to come cheer on the little racers and support Scouting in the Big Country – a program that he believes develops kids into strong members of the community.
“I enjoy the principles of Scouting and mentoring the character and skills youth learn in Scouts. I have seen these kids in action during a car accident, providing first aid, leading youth programs at church, and in their school. This is still very much a year-long, youth leadership program.”
By Kristen Johnson