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By Laura Drinan
Hometown Weekly Reporter
Deeply rooted in Cub Scout tradition is the annual pinewood derby. It’s a half-day at Kraft Hall dedicated to racing miniature gravity-fueled wooden cars, designed and built by the Cub Scouts and their parents.
“This is a huge Cub Scout tradition,” said DJ Johnston, one of the den leaders. “We do this every year and they have a good time.”
While the tradition has a history of over 60 years, this year’s pinewood derby, which took place on January 27, was history in the making. For the first time in Dover history, the Girl Scouts joined their Cub Scout counterparts at the races, competing with their own cars.
“We’re breaking new grounds here in Dover today,” said Darci Rogers, one of the Girl Scouts coordinators. “This has never happened in the past, ever. I’m glad that we’re offering the girls more opportunities in science and engineering.”
The morning races included four rounds, one for each grade level (fourth and fifth grade combined their participants) and over a dozen heats per round. The straightaway track with a tall slope at the beginning was painted with a blue, a red, a yellow, and a green stripe designating the four lanes.
To make it a fair competition, each child’s car must race at least once in each lane, and the car’s speed and time is recorded and averaged with the other heats in which it competes.
Once the first and second grade Scouts finished their races, Kraft Hall filled up with third grade students and their parents. The third graders, who appropriately gave theirs cars names like “Girl Scout Mobile” and “PATRIOTS!!!”, crowned Nate Whalen and his car, “Black Bullet,” champion of their round. Whalen’s car averaged 202.3 miles per hour on the track.
Fourth grade Girl Scout Bella Boussy and her car named “Poka Power” earned first place in the combined fourth and fifth grade round, with her car averaging 202.2 miles per hour.
With the Girl Scouts joining the pinewood derby, this year’s race had the largest turnout yet. The co-ed racing also helped to strengthen the relationships between the boys and girls as they enjoyed a bout of friendly competition, making the annual pinewood derby a community-building event, too.
After a thrilling and successful day for the Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts, Dover can only hope that they have begun a new tradition to bring the Scouts together.