Consider the Pinewood Derby vehicle.
It might appear to be nothing more than a simple block of carved wood, designed solely to participate in races for unpowered and unmanned miniature race cars.
If you take a closer look, though, you’ll likely find that the creations designed and built by Cub Scouts are engineering and artistic marvels. The shapes and contours might vary widely, but the builder of each car will have taken aerodynamics and other engineering concepts into account. All of that is important, because each car will be put through a series of inspections for length, height and weight that rival the rigorous technical inspections faced by competitors in NASCAR, Indy Car and Formula One.
Paint schemes, decals and other decorations, meanwhile, will offer a glimpse into the true personality of each participant.
That work will be on display Friday and Saturday at the Fort Steuben Mall when the Boy Scouts of America Two Trails District of the Ohio River Valley Council holds its annual Pinewood Derby. Friday’s action starts at 6 p.m. with a series of family races for Scouts older than 11 years of age, Scouters and family members of Scouts in the district.
The actual derby is set to begin at 9 a.m. Saturday in the mall’s Center Court, when officials hope that 150 Cub Scouts, boys and girls of ages ranging between kindergarten and 11, will begin their day-long competition. Each of the participants will be members of one of the packs that are part of the district, which includes Jefferson, Harrison and Belmont counties in Ohio and Brooke and Hancock counties in West Virginia.
Organizers, including longtime volunteer Joe Kovaleski, say this year’s event will mark a return to normal — the 2021 competition was held at Friendship Park to help ensure social distancing was possible.
At the end of the day, top finishers will be recognized and awards presented. What happens behind all of the skills on display Saturday might be even more important — each of the participants will have enjoyed quality time and received guidance from a caring adult along the way.
And when you get past all the pageantry of colors and designs, that basic concept of investing time to teach skills, craftsmanship and sportsmanship remains important.
Those are lessons that last right along with the memories of Pinewood Derby competition and serve throughout a lifetime.