Speed leads the way at Newcastle Pinewood Derby

January 31, 2013

By Christina Corrales-Toy

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Turtles are not among the fastest animals on the planet. The cute, shell-bearing reptile is not likely to win a foot race, unless the opponent was a mischievous hare.

Yet at Newcastle Cub Scout Pack 738’s 2013 Pinewood Derby, a tortoise-themed car made some noise with its lightning-quick moves.

By Christina Corrales-ToyAudience members eagerly watch as derby cars race down the track at Newcastle Cub Scout Pack 738’s 2013 Pinewood Derby.

By Christina Corrales-Toy
Audience members eagerly watch as derby cars race down the track at Newcastle Cub Scout Pack 738’s 2013 Pinewood Derby.

Arkin Rao’s reptile-inspired derby car was one of the faster cars at this year’s Jan. 11 event at Newcastle Elementary School. While it did not take first place, the car, named “The Not Car,” won for it’s sheer creativity.

The idea for the unique car came from a simple Internet search, Arkin said.

“My dad was searching up Pinewood Derby and then we saw a turtle and then my brother said, ‘Let’s make a turtle,’” he said.

The name for the car came from the idea that a turtle can’t reach anywhere near the speed of a car, hence, “The Not Car,” Arkin said.

“The Not Car” was just one of many cleverly themed cars at the derby. There was a car fashioned to look like a block of cheese, a Pokémon-inspired car and several cars made to resemble military tanks.

The derby’s winner, however, went for a simpler theme, with just a plain color, but it paid off as Christopher Chow’s “Furious” dusted the competition.

Last year’s Pinewood Derby champion, Will Slaton, took second place with his car, “Radium,” while Jacob Robblee came in third with his car, “The Blew Up.”

Awards were also given out recognizing standout cars in five categories at the Newcastle derby: Best Scout Theme, Most Patriotic, Most Futuristic, Most Unique and Funniest Car.

It was event chairman James Likes’ third year organizing the derby. Before he volunteered to run the event three years ago, he had never even participated in a Pinewood Derby.

“I wasn’t in scouts as a kid, so it was fun figuring all this stuff out, but now I think I’ve gotten it all down,” he said.

The first Pinewood Derby was held in 1953 by Cub Scout Pack 280C, of Manhattan Beach, Calif. Since then, more than 90 million Pinewood Derby model car kits have been sold across the country, and more than 1 million boys and parents team up each year to participate in the annual contest.

“It’s really a child-parent activity,” Likes said. “It helps kids to really just start a project from beginning to end, learn how to use power tools, teaches them how to win or lose and cheer on their friends whether they are winning or losing. It just teaches them a lot of good things.”

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