The Pinewood Derby originated in 1953 by Don Murphy. He wanted to create a wholesome, constructive activity that would foster a closer father-son relationship and promote craftsmanship and good sportsmanship through competition for his Cub Scouts.

Pequot Lakes Cub Scout Pack 102 has had a long-standing tradition of hosting an annual Pinewood Derby. This year, the pack gave each Scout a derby car kit at Christmastime. As family structure has evolved, so has the "building partner." Some Scouts are still able to build with a father; however, many build with a mom, grandfather, uncle or another caring adult.

The Pinewood Derby was held Friday, Jan. 22, at the Pequot Lakes American Legion (the pack's charter partner). With COVID-19 restrictions allowing for restaurants to reopen, the pack invited families to attend as the Legion had plenty of room for each family to take a table and social distance from one another.

Henry and Jacob Falenschek watch as the derby cars whiz by at the January 22 Pinewood Derby at the Pequot Lakes American Legion. Submitted Photo
Henry and Jacob Falenschek watch as the derby cars whiz by at the January 22 Pinewood Derby at the Pequot Lakes American Legion. Submitted PhotoSubmitted Photo

Many families chose to make it a family night out by having dinner at the Legion before or during the race. Former Cub Master Jake Cameron volunteered to run the track. Current Cub Master Erin Traxler thanks all the building partners and families for supporting their Scout so he could participate in this annual event.

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Twelve Scouts took part in the derby, and Calvin Traxler was the grand champion with a car clocking in at 2.4 seconds.

This year's race had stiff competition with racers putting their hearts and minds to the test.

Erik Hoag, age 7, Tiger Scout

Erik built his car, Black Terror, with his dad, Ryan. Together they came up with a plan after researching on the internet. They also used last year's building experience to help them know what to do and what not to do.

Erik picked black for his car color because black is scary. Erik chose to make his car skinnier and modified the amount of weight on the car from last year. Erik was both excited and nervous on race day. Erik was the grand champion of the Pinewood Derby last year and came in third of his Tigers Den heat this year.

His mom, Sarah Tiegs, said participating in this event shows him patience, sportsmanship and that he can build something with his hands. Important lessons are learned, including you don't have to be first; it is about having fun and the experience. And there is always next year.

Anthony Nelson has a box where he keeps all his pinewood derby cars. Submitted Photo
Anthony Nelson has a box where he keeps all his pinewood derby cars. Submitted PhotoSubmitted Photo

Duke Aichele-Niskanen, age 7, Tiger Scout

Duke built his car with his mom and dad. This was his second year participating in the Pinewood Derby. He chose to change the shape of his car from last year. He chose a patriot theme for his car because the USA is our home.

Duke was happy to participate, although he was worried watching his car come down the track. Next year he plans to make his car lighter. Duke attends Eagle View via distance learning and enjoyed seeing his friends and having fun. Duke came in third of the Tigers Den heat.

Shannon Niskanen, Duke's mom, shared that the Pinewood Derby is a good chance for the kids to learn about sportsmanship. It was a way to show Duke that even though he didn't win, he could still have fun participating in something with his peers.

It's always fun to have a project to work on as a family. It was neat to experience Duke brainstorm ideas and bring them to life. He also got to learn about safety and persistence while building his car.

Elijah Kerns, age 9, Bear Scout

Eli worked hard with his dad this year to build his car. They researched online together for his design. Eli's dad is a construction worker so he was able to help Eli with the shape, and the color was made from mixing three different blue colors together. Eli decorated his car with stickers, a hand drawn puppy and decided to cut a hole all the way through it.

At race time, Elijah was nervous because the shark car was in front of him, but then his car passed it. He enjoyed taking first place of the Bears Den heat. Eli already has a plan for next year learning from this year's car. He plans to skip the hole since it was hard to sand. He would like to make a red car with blue flames, and he looks forward to getting to build his car with his dad.

Elijah's mother, Rachel Cain, said, "I encouraged my Scout to join the other boys in learning teamwork, craftsmanship and participation. Our family learned the patience it takes to build a car, encouragement for not only our Scout but the other boys as well. Finally, I would like to say good job to all of the Scouts who participated; it was fun to see you cheer each other on."

Henry and Jacob Falenschek. Submitted Photo
Henry and Jacob Falenschek. Submitted PhotoSubmitted Photo

Henry Falenschek, age 8, Bear Scout

Jacob Falenschek, age 6, Tiger Scout

Henry built his car with his dad. He got his design from NASCAR. His favorite part of the Pinewood Derby was getting to race against his fellow Bear Scout, Eli. Henry plans to adjust his plan for next year to build his car so it is not as wobbly as it was this year.

Jacob also built his car with his dad and created his design from other derby cars they saw online. This was Jacob's first year participating and he thought it was awesome, especially after winning his heat of Tiger Scout cars.

Alison Falenschek, their mom, said it is a fun learning experience for the boys and they love watching the races. The boys got to spend time bonding with their dad while building the cars. They like the lessons that Pinewood Derby allows the children to learn. They learn practical things like planning a design and safely using tools. It also allows the boys to practice good sportsmanship and to be proud of their hard work.

Anthony Nelson, age 10, Webelos

Anthony built his car with his dad using a mix of online research and personal inspiration. This is his third derby car and he keeps his cars in a box. This year he tried a different shape and he felt excited watching his car on the track. He feels he needs to work on the shape and weight placement in the future.

He said, "Pinewood Derby is awesome! And I love the Scouts."

Anthony's dad, Tony Nelson, said the derby is a fun experience for Anthony because it's an opportunity to create memories.