Sunday, January 27, 2008

A Grand Ending

Yesterday was the big AWANA Grand Prix (pinewood derby) race for the kids. This was my second year as commissioner and another great learning experience. We had 50 cars in three divisions (10 in Open, 24 in Sparks, and 16 in TnT). Here are some construction pics of my own kids' cars.
The boy wanted an Indy car - Andretti Green to be specific. I cut out the rough shape, he sanded and painted it black with white detailing. It eventually had a balsa wing on the back. He won 1st place in Design.
The problem we encountered was weight. Without adding anything it came in at 2.5 ounces, half the allowed amount. So I drilled through the center and ratcheted in a lag bolt making the silver head appear to be the engine. But that still wasn't enough. So we added a plate to the bottom but the screws that held it on were 1/10 of an ounce too much. Of course I was busy with registration so another dad helped him hot glue the plate on, but after one race it started dragging on the track.
The princess had a really creative design but unfortunately the judges didn't see it that way. I cut down the original block of pine and glued a piece of firewood on top. She applied a walnut stain and hot glued feather butterflies on top. It really did look like butterflies riding on a stick with wheels! She was disappointed to not bring home any trophy. Her car came in right at 5.0 ounces with no modifications. I probably could have worked more on the wheels to tweak out more speed but again, time was against me.
We used a Perfect-N system with each car running once on each lane. Points are awarded for finish order and the top eight from each division went on to a single elimination finals round. The turnout was great but with several people showing up early we didn't get a good chance to review with the volunteer staff their roles. That caused some confusion early on. And as usual my computer setup decided not to work, but all the data files were on flash drive so we jumped onto the Commander's laptop system. Lot's to mull over and consider modifying for next year.