Valley Journal
Valley Journal

This Week’s e-Edition

Current Events

Latest Headlines

What's New?

Send us your news items.

NOTE: All submissions are subject to our Submission Guidelines.

Announcement Forms

Use these forms to send us announcements.

Birth Announcement

Speedsters top 200 mph in Pinewood Derby races

Hey savvy news reader! Thanks for choosing local. You are now reading
1 of 3 free articles.

Subscribe now to stay in the know!

Already a subscriber? Login now

Hot rods streaked through the normally quiet east side of town in Ronan last Wednesday night ... and a few of them were seen over in Plains on Saturday.

Though they weren't pealing rubber or revving up loud engines, Ronan and Charlo Cub Scout Packs 40 and 56 put together their best racers for last Wednesday night's Pinewood Derby. Wooden racers ranged from designs of simple rectangular blocks of wood to intricate carvings of shapes that hinted of Indy 500 cars.

But all of the cars sported the same basics of wooden body, two axles with simple black wheels, and some weights to bring them up to the same weight — 5 ounces. Weights ranged from lead slabs to quarters for good luck, while paint gave the bodies the final touch of personality, including a lucky number or the car's name.

The two Packs hosted the event at Ronan's LDS Church in a large room that was split down the middle by an elevated aluminum track, starting at about four feet off the floor and ending on the carpet at the other end of the 40-foot room. Throngs of speed-hungry fans lined both sides of the track, watching with amazement as heat after heat of speeding cars flew down the track at breakneck speeds.

Cars raced down the three-lane track with electronic times logged in scaled speeds of miles per hour. Several heats were run, so the speeds were averaged together to determine the top placers. 

The top five placers for Pack 56 included champion Sutton Perry, whose car "Birdie" set a track record and averaged 215.4 mph. Second went to Devon Siech, 213.6 mph; third went to Bridger Foust, 211.4 mph; and fourth went to Landers Smith, 210.2 mph.

The top five placers for Pack 40 included champion Michael Koehler, 209.8 mph; second was Billy Palmer, 209.2 mph; third was David Castillo, 208.0 mph; and fourth was Tristan Thingelstad, 207.3 mph.

Other local Pack derbies were held in St. Ignatius and Polson, and the top four cars from each pack moved on to the Silvertip District Pinewood Derby in Plains on Saturday, March 27. 

"It was the best of the best," Silvertip District Cub Scout Round Table Commissioner Bea Eder explained. "Racing was tight and exciting. The boys showed great sportsmanship."

District trophies were provided by Don Aadsen Ford of Ronan and were awarded to the top four racers, including:

• 1st Place: Matthew Druffel, "The Green Mean Machine," Pack 100, St. Ignatius.

• 2nd Place: Sutton Perry, "Birdie," Pack 56, Ronan.

• 3rd Place: Devon Siech, "Metal Beast," Pack 56, Ronan.

• 4th Place: Daniel Leas, "Red Wolf," Pack 47, Polson.

Runners up were:
• 5th Place: Michael Koehler, "Red Racer," Pack 40, Ronan.
• 6th Place: Nathan Feliska, "Blue Bullet," Pack 46, Plains.
All the boys received participation medals provided by Rehbein Ford (Plains).
The Plains Pack has a similar track and computerization that Ronan has used in the last several years. The Plains' Lions Club provided all the technical support for the starters, finishing, and the statistics for the races. 
With the tracks being computerized, the average scaled speed of the cars can be exactly calculated. Druffel's car clocked in at 176.4 mph while Perry's car clocked at 176.3 mph. Siech's speed was 175.8 mph and Leas' speed was 173.0 mph. 
Technology has improved since the first Pinewood Derby held in 1953.
"Years ago, two people sat at the finish line and concentrated on the finish line trying to see which car crossed the finish line first and ties were common," Eder noted. "Today, with the computers and timers set to measure 1/100th of a second, ties still happen, but are rare."
This year's Montana Council Pinewood Derby, the state level competition, will be held May 1 in Billings. Because of the distance, many of the Cub Scouts won't be able to attend but two of this year's winners will compete, including Druffel and Siech.

Sponsored by: