Painesville –The Pinewood Derby was set to go at the Central YMCA on Feb. 25. The 17 cars were checked in. Anticipation was in the air as the participants, their families and friends enjoyed last minute refreshments, including pizza, chips and beverages before heading into the gymnasium for the big races. This was serious business, but a lot of fun, too.
A wooden track about four feet high at one end and sloping down to a finish line awaited the participants. Elisa Hennies, YMCA youth development director, said two Y members built the two-lane track in 1988 and donated it.
Entries were in two categories, 6-8-year olds and 9-15-year olds, plus an open category for anyone.
Ron and Luba Hennies were line judges
Each contestant received a kit including a 5 ounce block of wood, wheels and axels. They could carve their design, sand the blocks and add to it, as long as the car weight did no go over 5.5 ounces.
Ron Hennies,official checker, made sure rules were followed.
In the gym, the energy level headed skyward and the races were on.
The participants included 14 boys and three girls.
Blake Sampson, age 7, entered his car in the 6-8 class. Emmie, his two-year-old sister, was intrigued as she watched her dad Raymond coach her brother while working on his car. “Me, too,” she said. Her dad showed her how things were done, including painting her own car, and she did it. She then entered her car in the open class.
David Palchin joined with his daughter Lily, age 6. Dad cut out the car and made a replica so Lily could see what he did. Lily said she used three different sheets of sandpaper and painted her car purple with sleek black racing stripes.
Dad David said he had competed in a Pinewood Derby when he was a kid at Willo-Hill Baptist Church.
After more than an hour of heats, all accompanied by avid cheering sections, cars raced down the course, two at a time. Some performed perfectly, others didn’t quite make the finish line and a few jumped the track, typical of the agony of sports.
Winners were declared. RJ Hickey, 6, emerged as champion in the 6-8 class and Avery Hoffman, 13, topped the 9-15 year-old class. No winner was declared in the open class.
After the races, winners received trophies and participants chose special award winners. Braydon Beers received the Most Iinnovative Design award, Most Realistic went to Marschall Beers, Lily Palchin received the Spirit of Pinewood award and Kids’ Choice winner was RJ Hickey.
Photo by Gail Stuehr
RJ Hickey, 6, received first place in the 6-8 year-old class and the coveted kids’ choice award at the Pinewood Derby held at the Central Lake County YMCA Feb. 25. See story and additional photos inside.