Island cub scouts race to the finish in annual pine wood derby

The race to the finish line provided plenty of excitement. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

Island cub scouts went head-to-head Saturday in the annual pine wood derby. The match races pit handmade miniature wooden race cars, one against another, in a test of gravity, lubrication and engineering.

Cub Scout leader Matt Hayden told The Times that the purpose of the event is to have parent and son spend time working together to create a car from a block of wood. Race day generates plenty of excitement.

Scouts get about two weeks to build a car. There are workshops to help kids and parents who might not have the help they need at home. On race day, the car goes through an inspection to verify that it weighs less than 5 ounces and is no longer than seven inches.

“A lot of the time you see dads chipping wood off the car because it weighs too much at inspection,” Mr. Hayden said.

Many racers turn to the Internet for advice. For example, speed secrets include cleaning the inside of the wheels with toothpaste to smooth out any imperfections in the plastic and filing down the axles to remove any burrs. Powdered graphite is used to lube up the wheels before inspection.

The goal is to have the fastest car to run the track, a 30-foot wooden runway where the cars, four at a time, start atop a hill and shoot down a straightaway to the finish line. “All this is recorded on a computer that tells you how fast the cars have gone and how fast it would have gone if it was a real car,” Mr. Hayden said.

Mr. Hayden’s son, Jack, clocked in with a top speed of 195 miles per hour.

Scouts compete by scout rank: tiger, wolf, bear, and webelo. The fastest from each rank race to see who is the district champion. Trophies are handed out for speed. Medals are given in five other categories that include most scout worthy, best workmanship, public pick, judges choice, and most outrageous car.

“The best part for me is to see the kid’s smiling faces when they receive their trophies,” Mr. Hayden said.

The festivities included a Chili contest to raise money for the scouting program. Annmarie Cywinski took top honors.

For more information on the cub scout program, contact Cub Master Matt Hayden at or 774-563-9694.

“You can join anytime,” Mr. Hayden said. “We are a year-round program providing boys with skills to become great men and have fun along the way.”


District champion: Jack Hayden

Tigers: 1. Andy Carr 2. Huck Moore 3. Ryan Fink

Wolves: 1. Jack Hayden 2. Oliver Larkosh 3. Mark Clements.

Bears: 1. J.J. Polleys 2. Henry Kyburg 3. Barret Oliver

Webelos: 1. Jacob Gurney 2. Trent Bilodeau 3. Joey Cywinski.