Pinewood Derby: On track


The Ag Hall in West Tisbury was packed with excited racers and onlookers Saturday morning as the annual Martha’s Vineyard Pinewood Derby got underway.

Hosted by the Island Cub Scouts, this year’s race was a big success, according to Cubmaster Molly Scarbrough. “The race started at 10 am — the night before, we set up the track and had the kids come and bring their cars to register them,” Scarbrough told The Times in a phone conversation. She said the Cub Scouts try out their cars on a sample track to make sure they fit correctly, their wheels are stable, and everything else is shipshape. Each car is also weighed on a precise scale, as the cars can’t weigh more than five ounces. If a car is below the required weight, or if there is something wrong with the car, Scarbrough and others help the kids fix them so they are race-ready. “Almost every single kid who came had to add weight. Sometimes their scales are different at home, but we have the material right there so they can fix it and make it all official,” Scarbrough explained.

Once kids hand in their registration fee, the cars are set aside, and nobody is allowed to touch them until the race the following day. At the Ag Hall on Saturday morning, 11 scouts out of the total 17 Cub Scouts participated in the race. There were also four siblings who were allowed to race their cars. “Next year, we decided we would allow parents to race cars if they want to, so that’ll be a lot of fun,” Scarbrough said.

The racetrack for the Pinewood Derby has four lanes in it — each scout gets one race down each lane, then those four times are recorded and divided by four to find their average best time. The heats of the race are organized by cub den. The Lion’s Den (kindergarten) had two scouts participating; the Tiger’s Den (first grade) had five scouts participating; the Wolf’s Den (second grade) had three participants; and the Webelo Den (third grade) had three scout representatives in the race.

Scarbrough explained that the winner of each den race goes on to the championship. Out of the four champions, Jay Scarbrough of the Lion’s Den, Ana Sola of the Tiger’s Den, Fae Beaulieu of the Wolf’s Den, and Connor McCracken of the Webelo Den, Ana Sola emerged victorious. Ana took home the first-place trophy with a race time of 3.734 seconds, which Scarbrough said means her car was traveling at 132.36 miles per hour. Ana was the first female Cub Scout to win the Pinewood Derby on the Vineyard.

Scarbrough said she wants to give brownie points to one of the Cub Scout dads who took over the operation of the racetrack this year. Chuck Noonan, through his business, GreenOffice MV, purchased and donated software that automated the race recordings and cataloged them. “It’s all done on the computer, and it made everything so much easier, instead of having to take down all the kids’ times manually and use a manual timer,” Scarbrough said.

Scarbrough said the Martha’s Vineyard Cub Scouts accept boys and girls ages 5 to 11. Kids can participate in the year-round program at any time. Coming up, the scouts are looking at special events for the Memorial Day parade, Rocket Day, fishing adventures, campouts, and more. “It’s going to be a really fun season,” Scarbrough said.

For Scarbrough, her favorite part of the Pinewood Derby is handing out trophies to the kids. “Just seeing their proud faces and watching them all support each other: It’s really heartwarming. Sometimes there are some tears, but everyone is always really compassionate and kind. It teaches good sportsmanship, and it teaches kids to support each other even during competition,” Scarbrough said.

Anyone interested in Cub Scouts can contact Molly Scarbrough at, or research the scouts at



  1. It is great that now the MV CS give all the participants an equal chance to test their cars on the actual race track prior to the race. Before those with access to the track had an unfair advantage.

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