Best Pinewood Derby Car – Image via voiceofscouting.org
Best Pinewood Derby Car – Christie Finch is not a huge fan of the way Pinewood Derby cars are rated in their backpacks and districts.
So he found a better way. This new approach includes young people, rewarding Cub Scouts who work hard to design their cars with their parents or guardians, and build excitement and fun on the day of the race.
This all started when Finch and another Cub Scout volunteer, Casey Crausauz, saw something similar about all the cars that won Best in Show: They were very clearly designed and painted by Cub Scout alone – without the help of mom or dad.
In other words, if a car looks “too good,” then Cub Scout must have received help from his parents, which means the car was disqualified from the design award.
Of course, our Scouters know parent-child interaction is the whole point of Pinewood Derby. But this method of assessment ignores that fact.
“We feel it’s unfair to disqualify a car that looks at the assumption that a child can not do it alone,” Finch said. “We believe that if you see something wrong in the world, you help make a change, not just complain!”
These volunteers from Pack 148 from Lebanon, Tenn., Did not complain. They have to work.
How to Award Best in Show Award this pack is rated
Here are the new and improved methods:
The Best in Show Award criteria are shipped with the rest of the Pinewood Derby rule, which means the family has plenty of time to make the car look good.
Two adult leaders are elected to serve as judges. They rate every car except those made by their own children. For the cars, other judges are randomly assigned. You can also have a third celebrity judge – a local newsreader or mayor, perhaps.
Cars are judged when they are checked. In this way, any damage that occurs during the race is not a problem.
The jury gave each scorecard a scorcheet that Finch made. (See PDF here.) The car gets between 1 and 5 points in each of these four categories:
Originality: The design of a simple racing car may not have a value as high as a pencil or a shark car.
Work: Is there a rough cut or a smooth edge sanded? Are there any accessories that are added to the car that is well thought out and installed neatly?
Technique: Are cars hand-painted, air-brushed or wrapped? Is there a bubble under the wrap or drip of paint left to dry? Do Cub Scout and its adult partners come out and use new or interesting techniques?
Judge Choices: This category allows judges to share points for whatever reason they choose, whether it’s a favorite character or theme or even how to get out of Cub Scout when checking his car.
The judge is reminded not to rate cars against each other. Each car is judged on its own merits.
The jury counted four cars with the highest score, and recorded them on a piece of paper. Relationships are broken using the category of Preferred Judges.
Speed race is held.
In the Finch package and district, race winners are not eligible for the Best Performance Award. After the first, the second and third places are determined in the speed race, the fast cars are eliminated from Best in Show contention. That’s why four cars are identified for Best in Show – just in case if the three most handsome cars are the fastest ones as well.
Each Best in Show car package becomes a finalist for the best district in the Event Awards.
How the Best in Show Award district is selected
Each winning package is placed in its own voting storefront. (Crausauz and Finch designed and painted the boxes, and their husbands built and trimmed the ladies to buy plexiglass tops from Hobby Lobby to complete the look.)
Every Cub Scout and his siblings are given a voting token. When Cub Scout takes a token, its hand is stamped to track who has taken it.
The Cub Scouts put their tokens in the box slots holding their favorite cars. “Kids really like this method,” Finch said. “They are eager to get tokens to choose and love to be part of the process.”
Cars with most tokens are named Best in Show in the district.
Notes and modifications
This method works for all derbies, not just Pinewood Derby. Try for Raingutter Regatta and Space Derby as well.
The Finch method uses an adult judge to select the winner of the package and the Scout to select the winner of the district. In larger packages, you can use adult judges to select the finalists and let the Scout winners select the big winners.
Finch says: “When choosing a judge for the day, the most important part is choosing a person who understands that they judge each car based on criteria on voting, not against each other and without considering the assumption of who built the car.
Does your package use a custom appraisal system? Tell us about it in the comments.