Pinewood Derby Drama

The Pinewood Derby. Every Cub Scout’s dream. Every father’s worst nightmare.

To let you know Bode’s pedigree: As a kid, Jamie won first place locally and his brother Chris competed against hundreds of cars to win regionals. The Pinewood Derby is serious business for the Johnson clan

This year, my boys were in it for the win. They researched YouTube videos for the best strategies and implemented a risky three-wheeled design with purposely bent axles and a rail-riding strategy.

There were four lanes so each car raced once in each lane.  I joked to our friends I wouldn’t tell them which car was ours unless we won. 

He triumphed in the first heat.

And his second.

He dominated the third.

And won the fourth heat for a clean sweep.

We assumed he’d win best overall average because he beat every car (including the overall winner) but in the end, he took second place–the difference between first and second place was a mere 0.03 seconds.

That night before bedtime for scriptures and prayers, I read a touching story from the Friend, the Church’s children’s publication. It was about a father obsessed with winning the Pinewood Derby. They were on track to go to the winner’s bracket when his 8-year-old son pulled him aside and told him he was supposed to go head-to-head with a boy with disabilities who hadn’t won any heats.

“Dad, we need to do something to my car to make sure Steve wins.”

The dad was humbled by his son’s gesture so ruined the alignment on the car. Steve was thrilled to win the race and there were two winners that day.

After reading the story, there was a long pause. Was my sweet, thoughtful boy as touched as I was about this kid who gave up the chance to be in the winner’s circle so another could win?

Bode finally responded, “Oh, let’s not do that.”

He’s more like his father than I thought.

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