Experienced Boy Scouts Tregan LeFave and James Bonar stood at the front of the electronic track to line the cars up for the annual Pinewood Derby races at Thayer Central Sunday.
Bonar was marking cars for their respective lanes and LeFave placed them on the track while the cub scouts who had crafted the cars stood anxiously waiting for the races to begin.
“It’s a process from the beginning,” Sarah Baden, fifth grade Webelos II mom said as she explained how the boys design their cars for speed, Best in Show or Most Unique. “We’ve had dragons, mice, food. We even had a Christmas Tree car.”
The Christmas Tree car, created by one of Scoutmaster Shannon LeFave’s sons about 10 years ago, sat in a LeFave collection box of cars, specifically for testing the track and timing.
Baden said the Pinewood Derby is a place for old and new cars.
“If anyone has their own cars and wants to dust them off, they can try them on the track,” she said. “The derby brings back a lot of memories for our parents and grandparents.” In addition to the grade divisions, there was an open division for members of the scouts’ families.
The numbers for cub scouts are up this year.
“We have awesome groups of boys and we’re still a boys only pack. For Thayer County, we decided to stay boys only. Our numbers are good,” Baden said.
Staying chartered involves time because a lot of adults are needed, but Baden is thankful for the parent and grandparent volunteers.
While Baden described how the boys are encouraged to do their best despite their cars’ finishes, volunteer leaders, like derby committee chair Chuck Fink and LeFave helped where they were summoned, and Hebron Lions’ Club member Dennis Dye sat in the stands.
He and Fink judged the cars before the races. The Lions are the partner organization for the pack that sits in the Cornhusker Council Prairie Winds district.
Dye was around when Doug Modlin revived scouts after membership had dwindled.
“The cub scouts had died out, and with Doug’s leadership, we started a cub scout troop. We had seven scouts that first year,” Dye said. “It grew every year.” Both Dye and Modlin are dads of Eagle Scouts.
Baden watched as boys in the first grade den stepped up to the track after emcee Dan Engle announced the race.
“Some of the boys are racing for the first time because they didn’t get to last year,” she said. “We weren’t able to have it last year because of Covid.”
Skipping a year didn’t stop the scouts. They put a lot of work into their cars.
“It’s a challenge,” fifth grade Webelo Dean Baden said. “Aerodynamics can help with speed.”
Johnnie Zucker, also a fifth grade Webelo, bent the axles on his car a bit.
“And I lifted up the front left one for less friction and more speed,” Zucker said.
“At this age, Do Your Best is out motto, nice and simple,” Baden said. “If your car comes in last place, what matters is did you do your best.”