In Cub Scouts' Derby, The Cars Are The Stars

March 17, 1995|By TaNoah V. Sterling | TaNoah V. Sterling,Sun Staff Writer

Tommy Taylor has more than 60 kids out to beat him.

The 10-year-old Pasadena Cub Scout from Fort Smallwood Elementary School has won first place for two years in the Scouts' annual Pinewood Derby race. This weekend, he'll have to defend his title.

"I want to beat him bad," said Richard Cress Jr., another 10-year-old Scout. "I want to get first place."

The competition for Cub Scout Pack 785 begins 9 a.m. tomorrow at the Venice on the Bay Community Center on Arundel Road. Students will weigh in their cars and await the 11 a.m. race.

Competition is expected to last two to three hours. Grand prize winners will get 10-inch, 9-inch and 7-inch trophies for their victories. About 65 Cub Scouts, ages 5 to 10, and their parents are expect to attend.

"This is a really big thing for the kids," said Richard Cress Sr., an assistant pack leader. He said the youths get excited about showing off and racing the mini-cars they have made.

The Pinewood Derby is an annual event around the country. Scouts carve race cars out of soft wood supplied in a car kit and paint them.

The starting line of the 24-foot track is about 4 feet off the floor and slopes down to ground level at the finish line. It is equipped with an electronic timer and a raised wooden guide -- about half an inch high and 1 1/2 inches wide -- that runs down the center of each of the three lanes to keep the cars on track.

The small cars can zoom down the track in less than five seconds. Tommy Taylor said 2.65 seconds was the best time for his black car last year.

The tiny racers are permitted to weigh no more than 5 ounces, and the Scouts cannot use customized parts to gain an edge.

"You want to get it to like 4.99 ounces, because the closer it is to 5, the better chance they got of winning," Mr. Cress said, adding that the boys sometimes take their cars to post offices for weighing before the contest.

Before tomorrow's official weigh-in, the Scouts are allowed to attach extra weights to the cars if they are light. But once the weight is recorded by race officials, the boys are not permitted to touch their cars until race time.

The Scouts will compete against members of their own age group, with the Tiger Cubs, who are 5- and 6-year-olds, racing first.

Each car is raced on each of the three lanes, and the scores from the three races are averaged to determine the first-, second- and third-place winners from each age group. The winners will receive bar pins to wear on their uniforms.

Once everyone has raced, the first-place winners from each age group will compete for the grand prize trophies.

Although Richard Cress Jr. said this year's model is "the best car I ever made," Tommy Taylor is still confident that his car will take top honors.

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