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Park Rapids Pinewood Derby, a long standing tradition

The Park Rapids Cub Scouts Pack 58 held their annual Pinewood Derby on Saturday, from left, Zackary Brewer (6th), Gannon Wilkins (3rd), Jacob Lof (1st), Damian Arellano (2nd) and Aiden May (6th) were the Grand Finale Champions. Not pictured was Noah Cempa (4th). (Nicole Vik/ Enterprise)

The question "Who has the fastest car in the room?" was met with a lot of confidence as each Scout raised their hand high in the air at the Park Rapids Cub Scout's Pinewood Derby held at the Century School on Saturday morning.

Some of them were right, as speeds reached upwards of 199.9 mph to scale as the derby cars raced down the track, which Pack 58 Cubmaster Dustin Lof estimated was about 34 feet in length.

"We've really built up the event. We make a big deal out of it," Lof said about keeping the boys engaged.

Prior to the race, Lof gathered the Scouts to ask them to explain the rules of the race and to make sure the boys were fully informed how the derby worked.

Tom Weston got involved as a Scout leader nearly 30 years ago when his own sons were Cub Scouts, he himself never was a Scout.

"I haven't had a son in Scouts for years," Weston said. "But I've continued as a Scout leader."

Weston hosts a "build night" for the boys at his home where the Scouts are given the opportunity to cut out the wooden cars and sand them as well as pre-weigh them.

"A lot of families may not have the tools or the resources I do, so I'll continue to do that," Weston said. "The kids come and it's a lot of fun. This time we were swamped. We don't typically have as many and we were packed wall to wall."

On race day, the leaders have a maintenance table set up for the Scouts and their families to do any last-minute fine-tuning before the cars are weighed in and placed on the rack, awaiting their turn down the track. After that, they are no longer allowed to touch them until after the final race.

Local Scouts have been racing in the Pinewood Derby for many years. None of the leaders could say for sure how long, but Scout leader Dave Hanson stated he remembers participating in the Pinewood Derby in the 70s with his pack in Park Rapids.

"This pack has been in continuous charter for 69 years," Weston said.

Unfortunately for many kids, Scouting seems to take a backseat to other activities, according to Weston.

"That's always a problem. Kids will sign up and then the rest of the world gets in their way," he said. "Being a Scout is not strongly supported and so much of the time Scouting is considered uncool."

According to Weston, when the Scouts join initially they have to pay membership dues, but after that there are enough fundraising opportunities that potentially the boy never has to pay anything again.

Each Scout has their individual Scout account that they are able to use to pay for anything Scout related, including their yearly dues which are automatically taken out of the account. Weston said, if the boys do just a little bit of work fundraising, they should not have to pay anything out of pocket again.

"We have three primary fundraisers that we do," he explained. "We can't take routine financial donations; it's against our rules. The only place we can get it from is a sponsored organization which is the Rotary, so they budget us $500 each year."

"We have enough funds right now that we fund half of a camp fee up to $50 for every Scout.

About the only substantial thing that we pay for is we pay for some leader fees," Weston said. "There are yearly dues and travel costs, some training which is paid. It's really miniscule in comparison to the amount of work that's done."

While they cannot accept cash donations, Park Rapids Pack 58 is grateful to the community sponsors that helped make the derby possible, which included Coborn's, NAPA Auto Parts in Park Rapids, Wolff and Simon Real Estate, AutoZone in Park Rapids, Auto Value Park Rapids, Hugo's Family Marketplace and Pepsi Nei Bottling.

The purpose of the derby is not only to teach the boys about craftmanship and taking pride in their work, but also learning the value of proper sportsmanship

This year, Bear Cub Jesse Snow was awarded the Traveling Sportsman Trophy for his exemplary display of sportsmanship.

The winners at the Park Rapids Pinewood Derby were as follows:

• Tigers: first place, Noah Cempa; second place, Aksel Knapp; third place, Dominic Brissett and fourth place, Alexander Sanchez.

• Wolves: first place, Zackary Brewer; second place, Aiden May; third place, Frederick Arellano; fourth place, Gavin Hanson; fifth place, Sawyer Harvey; sixth place, Landon Stumbo and seventh place, Maxwell Harju.

• Bears: first place, Jesse Snow.

• Webelos I: first place, Damian Arellano; second place, Gannon Wilkins; third place, Ethan Tate and fourth place, Brennan Snow.

• Webelos II: first place, Jacob Lof; second place, Brayden Kohrs; third place, Matthew Neubauer; fourth place, Franklin Condiff and fifth place, Jack Moses.

• Grand Finale: first place, Jacob Lof; second place, Damian Arellano; third place, Gannon Wilkins; fourth place, Noah Cempa; fifth place, Zackary Brewer and sixth place, Aiden May.