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Pinewood Derby is about more than just winning

Feb. 5, 2011 at 10:04 p.m.
Updated Feb. 4, 2011 at 8:05 p.m.

Tiger Cubs, from left, Sebastian Harkey, Kolby Beyer, Dominic Tomanek and Jackson Fluitt react as their Pinewood Derby cars cross the finish line Saturday morning. Fluitt's car was the winner of the round.

William McCaskill smiled proudly as his son, Alex, walked up to the stage to place his Pinewood Derby car on the track.

Alex, 7, and his grandfather spent hours on the car, painted to look like a velociraptor, to get it just right for the race.

"It's really a great experience for him," McCaskill said. "It gives me the chance to spend time with him, and he gets to spend time with his grandfather. It's just a great experience."

After years of being away with the military, McCaskill knows the value of quality time.

In 2006, McCaskill was serving in Iraq when he was hit by a rocket-launched grenade.

"A millimeter lower and I'd have been dead," McCaskill said.

After recovering from his injuries, McCaskill, an Eagle Scout himself, decided it was important to make a point of spending time with his son and teaching him some of the values that helped him get through his ordeal.

He signed him up for Cub Scouts.

Every year, each Cub Scout is given a block of wood, four wheels and four nails and instructed to build a car. They have two weeks to complete the car, and then they race.

This year, about 100 Cub Scouts turned out to compete in the derby.

Everyone at the annual De Leon Pinewood Derby hoped to walk away with a trophy, but the experience is about much more than that, De Leon Pinewood Derby Chairman Scott Cook said.

"Are y'all ready?" Cook asked the crowd of Cub Scouts gathered around the stage, who cheered in response.

The first four pinewood derby cars sped down the runway set up in the foyer of Victoria Mall on Saturday morning and the De Leon Pinewood Derby races had begun.

Cook has been running the derby for the past seven years. Years ago, he entered the derby and won. Holding the worn, pale blue painted car that took him to victory, he still remembers how it felt to win the trophy back in 1977.

"It was the most wonderful feeling. The thing that's great about this is it's something you always remember," Cook said.

The pinewood derby has been a tradition among Cub Scouts for as long as Cook can remember, he said.

"It's really fun," Webelo Cub Keith Wampler, 10, said. "You get to do a lot of cool stuff."

Win or lose, McCaskill and his son said the derby has been great.

Alex agreed.

"It was fun. I liked working with tools and stuff," Alex said.



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