Cub Scouts prepare for pinewood derby in New Castle |

Cub Scouts prepare for pinewood derby in New Castle

Lincoln Rushlow, 8, sets up pinewood derby cars during a trial run in New Castle on Tuesday.
Ray K. Erku / Post Independent

Victor Patchett unleashed his pinewood derby car — Lego Runner 2.0 — by pulling a small lever at the side of a metal track assembled inside a residential garage in New Castle.

The small vehicle with a Lego man in the driver’s seat whizzed down the track’s decline before leveling out and reaching the finish line.

For Patchett, 9, preparing for an upcoming pinewood derby at the New Castle Community Center at 10:30 a.m. Saturday means one thing.

“I get to win trophies,” he exclaimed.

Local Pack 221 spent Tuesday night inside former scoutmaster John Harcourt’s home conducting trial runs. Parents fresh from work brought in their gleeful scouts as they tested out their rudimentary cars to see what tweaks they should make before the big race.

Victor Patchett prepares to pull a lever that unleashes pinewood derby cars in New Castle on Tuesday.
Ray K. Erku / Post Independent

Scoutmaster and New Castle police officer Caleb Jones was more than an hour into his shift when he came to race pinewood cars fully uniformed with his 3-year-old daughter Sienna and 7-year-old son Landon.

“We’re having a ball,” he said. “I love the kids. I had a great time when I was in scouts, and when I found out my son was old enough, I wanted to get him involved.”

To win Saturday’s pinewood derby race, scouts have to follow a number of rules, Jones said. Vehicles cannot weigh more than 5 ounces, and they cannot be longer than 7 inches.

Jones said the kids get to work with tools, come up with designs for their cars and quickly make repairs when necessary.

“That’s the whole point of this practice run,” he said. “It’s to show them, this works, this doesn’t.”

Boy Scouts of America was founded in 1910 and the first pinewood derby was hosted in Manhattan Beach, California in 1953.

Since then, parents have used this race of miniature wooden automobiles to bond with their kids and help them learn.

Victor Patchett's pinewood derby car, Lego Runner 2.0.
Ray K. Erku / Post Independent

Andrew Patchett — Victor’s father — said they’ve been zipping and racing pinewood cars since Victor was in kindergarten. Over the past three years, he said his son continues to refine his knowledge of engineering.

“It takes a lot of patience,” he said. “They like to design it. And then we work together, we cut it up to get the design, then we sit there and sand it down. But a lot of it is attention to detail on the axles.”

Patchett, 39, works in IT as a help desk engineer. With Victor’s continued efforts in scouts, he said he hopes one day his son becomes an engineer.

“He loves Legos,” Patchett said of Victor. “He’s got all sorts of STEM things that instigate him to build things.”

Scoutmaster Caleb Jones places a pinewood derby car on the track in New Castle on Tuesday.
Ray K. Erku / Post Independent

There are 37 scouts from Local Pack 221 participating in Saturday’s derby. Broken up by age group, each group has first-, second- and third-place winners.

Each winner then faces each other for the pack championship.

But accolades aside, there’s something more important about this entire experience.

“Being able to be a part of something together with my son,” Patchett said. “But with Boy Scouts, it’s also all about the family. Family is always welcome.”


What: Cub Scouts Pinewood derby race

Where: New Castle Community Center, 423 W. Main St.

When: 10:30 a.m. Saturday

How much: Free

Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or

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