Hues and hurry: Children design colorful cars, hope for top speed - The Daily Reporter

Hues and hurry: Children design colorful cars, hope for top speed – The Daily Reporter

AWANA leaders and parents take a group picture of the Sparks age group of racers during the Feb. 12 AWANA Grand Prix. Children in the program at Brandywine Community Church gathered there to race wooden derby-style cars they had decorated.
Anne Durham Smith | Daily Reporter

GREENFIELD — Some people look at the block of wood and envision a racecar.

Three-year-old Brooklyn White looked at it and envisioned a watermelon.

“She just said, ‘Dad, I want a watermelon,’” Adam White said. So he cut the block at an angle to suggest a slice of watermelon. Brooklyn was satisfied by that and proceeded to paint it a deep, almost lavender, pink. It became a deep-pink blur and bested the rest of the field Feb. 12 in the AWANA Grand Prix at Brandywine Community Church.

“It was her car, her deal,” Adam said. “All I did was cut it in half.”

Children in the weekly AWANA program at the church decorate wooden cars — stock cars, Indy-style cars, trucks or free-form shapes from a wooden block — and race them on a metal inclined track each year in the Grand Prix. This year’s event was postponed from Feb. 5 because of weather. Up for grabs are first-, second- and third-place trophies for speed in age group categories for speed or overall design trophies.

Brooklyn’s car won not only the youngest age group, where she was the only girl competing, but also the overall race at the end when the three age-group winners face off.

“It’s funny,” said Adam, who was there with wife Chelsy watching their children race. “She has two older brothers racing, and she doesn’t think anything about it.”

Brooklyn is in her first year of AWANA, part of the youngest class, the Cubbies. Hudson Flink, however, is in his last year in the oldest AWANA class, T&T (Truth and Training). Since he plays percussion in his school band, he chose a musical theme for his car, painting it white and decorating it with black music notes.

Grand Prix cars need to weigh close to, but not more than, five ounces. That often involves gluing weights to a car; Hudson made sure to place his weights on the base of music notes “so it looked like it was part of the note.”

He can look back on past years of racing the cars, including the time that making weight meant drilling out a heavy wood knot within his car, which that year featured a combination Batman/Flash logo. “It was Swiss cheese” after that, he said.

Then there was the year his paint scheme didn’t go as planned, morphing into something that reminded him of a purplish-bluish slime blob. This time, reaching ideal car weight helped the aesthetic, and he won second place in design: “I accidentally made a smiley face with my weights.”

AWANA Commander Jeff Weiland has said the Grand Prix is a good opportunity for children to spend unplugged time working on a car design, often spending time with their parents as they get it ready for race day. He said it’s not an overtly spiritual event, but it helps children engage with the overall AWANA program, which does have that emphasis. Each week the age groups have a mix of a game, a Bible lesson and time to memorize Bible verses and work through a booklet.

Hudson said after the races, some of the T&T members gather in the corner of the gym for a little demolition derby, since there’s no reracing the same car next year.

Looking back on his years of preparing cars for the race, he said it had been a good experience: “I’ve really enjoyed it.”



Cubbies (3 to 5 years)

First: Brooklyn White

Second: Brigham Miller

Third: J.P. Flink

Sparks (Grades K-2)

First: Ella Wood

Second: Owen Wood

Third: Levi Miller

T&T (Grades 3-6)

First: Sam Davis

Second: Jack Flink

Third: Casey Smith


Grand Champion

Brooklyn White


First: Casey Smith

Second: Owen Pyles

Third: Broden White