Bill Chapin is president of the Automotive Hall of Fame and will contribute regularly. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Pinewood Derby comes to AHOF
Posted: February 27, 2013
Coming up in April 2013, we plan to host The Great Lakes Field Service Council Pinewood Derby Grand Championship here at the museum. This great father-son tradition has its roots in the Boy Scouts of America. The Pinewood Derby originated in 1953 and was the brainchild of Scoutmaster Don Murphy of Cub Scout Pack 280C. Don saw that his son wanted to partake in the Soapbox Derby, but was too young at the time. Wanting nothing more than to please his son, he invented a "miniature" version of the soapbox derby. Only now the younger Cub Scouts could participate in a racing style competition. The smaller scale of cars meant that the younger Scouts could now make the cars completely by themselves. Don pitched his idea to the Management Club of North American Aviation, where they accepted it and sponsored it.
Cub Scout committee members who were skilled in woodworking and electricity, began constructing the first ever Pinewood Derby race track. The track was made of wood, 31 feet long with two lanes. The finish line was rigged to a doorbell that would ring, signaling that the race was over. Light bulbs were also attached to the finish line and would light up as soon as the winner crossed it.
On May 15th, 1953, the Scout house at Manhattan Beach was full to the brim with eager parents andCub Scouts ready to race their custom derby cars. Cub Master Murphy decided to break up the scouts into 3 different classes based on age. Class A was for 10 year olds, Class B for 9 year olds and Class C for 8 year olds. After that the Pinewood Derby was born and has become what it is today with over 50 million boys, girls and their parents partaking in the competition every year.
We plan to honor Don Murphy's innovation here at the Museum. After the event, we will be displaying an actual Pinewood Derby race track right here in the atrium. We will also have last year's winners here on display for all patrons. Please stop by and learn all about the Pinewood Derby here at the museum now! We have the 2012 winners on display too.
Special Thanks to the Boy Scouts of America for allowing The Great Lakes Field Service Council Pinewood Derby Grand Championship to take place here.
Information taken from: Pinewood Derby History, Copyright (c) 1999-2012 Pinewood Pro, http://www.pinewoodpro.com