Friday, March 7, 2014

A Day at the Races

This entry to my blog is written by Jeff (my wonderful husband).

This past Saturday we ran our Shape-N-Race event (aka pinewood derby) for the Christian Service Brigade at Denton Bible Church. In CSB Shape-N-Race, we have 7 divisions, with three award categories and one overall trophy for each division.  Each division represents one of the age groups in Brigade plus one for the sisters of the boys and one for the dads.  The divisions are Tadpoles (pre-K - K), Treeclimbers (1st - 2nd), Builders (3rd - 4th), Sentinels (5th - 6th), Battalion (7th and up), Powder Puff (girls division), and Open Class (Dads and other family members).  The award categories include design, craftsmanship, and speed.  Design ranks cars based on the overall concept, looking for uniqueness and ingenuity.  Craftsmanship grades the car on how thoroughly the design is executed, looking for good construction, fit, and finish. Speed is determined by the track.  Our family entrants to the race had a very successful run Saturday with trophy finishes in all three divisions entered.

First we had Kent in the Builders division, who raced an orange and blue car dubbed 'the Bronco. His car took second place in the design category, first in the craftsmanship category, and first in speed. I should point out that the design was entirely thought up, sketched, and marked by Kent. I did the cutting, as I am not yet comfortable with him using the power tools. He sanded, painted, polished everything, and I helped him install the axles, since it is a bit tricky to get them set straight. At check in, he decided he wanted to add some more graphite to his wheels so I showed him how, and went about other things. He added graphite on his own and checked his car in. I am telling you all of this just to say how proud I am that Kent put the effort in to producing a winning entry. Yeah the paint job was a bit sloppy, and the car could have been sanded more, but the car was at least 90% his work, and he won the overall trophy definitively.  I had no expectations for that outcome and am still amazed.
The second surprise of the day was Felicity's entry. She just wanted a pink car, so I showed her some different designs and this was what she picked. Her class is allowed to weigh up to 32 ounces, but her car was around 8 ounces (if I remember correctly). She ended up first place in the design category, and first place in speed. Two blue ribbons were enough to win the trophy. Again, not the expected result...partly because she was competing against her sisters:

Katy is the resident artist in our household, so she came up with the idea of a duck car all on her own. She basically told me how she wanted to put it together, and I helped build it. She did all of the painting on her own including color choices. Her car ended up earning a third place ribbon for speed. I guess that duck had quite the doggy paddle skills, especially since it was the lightest car we entered.

I expected Kaomi's VW Van to be fastest, because it was the heaviest of the girls cars at just under one pound. It's obviously not only about weight, because her car wasn't the fastest.  She knew right from the start what she wanted to make, and we did have fun shaping and painting the car together.  She did get a third place ribbon for craftsmanship and she also placed fourth in speed, but there’s no ribbon for that.

Clarky had a football car. I suggested the idea, but since it was football season at the time, he really liked the idea at the time.  Since I was working with poplar hardwood, it was fairly challenging to make the football shape.  I had to borrow a belt sander from my dad in order to get it done.  Clark helped with some of the painting and Su did the rest.  It turned out well enough to earn Clark second place ribbons for both design and craftsmanship.

Lastly, I had been thinking of making a replica of our family van for an entry into the open class race for myself.  A few weeks ago, I found myself basically finished with all the other cars and I had a really nice Texas Saturday with temperatures in the upper 60s.  Since I didn’t need to work on the other cars, i decided to rough out my van concept.  I had it done and even detail shaping done that afternoon, so i was even able to finish the van in the next couple weeks before the race.  I carefully painted it to match the full size version as much as possible, and added weight to get it to 22 ounces.  My van was awarded first place for craftsmanship.  I have a friend that always enters a school bus in the race and every year, so my goal was to beat his bus.  Unfortunately, his 32 ounce bus was still just fast enough to edge me out, so I ended up getting second place in speed.  It was really close though, with the bus winning most heats by less than two-tenths of a second.  My first and second place finishes were just enough to edge Clarky’s football out for the overall win and the trophy.

So, we entered a total of 6 cars, and we walked away with eleven ribbons, and three division trophies.  Not ever going to be able to top this one!

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