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Cub Scouts race in Pinewood Derby

Karl Horeis

Tiger Cubs, Cub Scouts, Webelos and Boy Scouts gathered at the Bethlehem Lutheran School gym Friday night for their annual Pinewood Derby car race.

Out of the 32 eligible scouts in Pack 341, 26 registered carved wooden cars in the race. The scouts of Boy Scout Troop 341 served as race attendants.

This year the race was organized around a computer-generated format designed by scout leaders from a pack in Virginia. The plan allows every car to race every other car and for every car to race in every track.

“It’s supposed to be the fairest way to do it,” said race chairman John Copoulos. His son Zach, 15, is in Troop 341 while his younger son, Dion, 9, is a member of Cub Scout Pack 341.

The cars, poised at the top of a curved, 50-foot metal track, were released with a lever and rolled down to the end with the force of gravity.

Each car, most of them carved from official Cub Scout kits, was allowed a maximum weight of 5 ounces or 142 grams.

One scout who decided not to use the official scout kit for his car was Wesley Dietlein, 11, from Den Nine. He designed his car after his parents’ ’57 Porsche Speedster to win the “Totally Awesome ” style award.

“We cut a plank in two and glued it together,” he said. “Then we had to drill in where the wheels go.”

Wesley, an Arrow of Light graduate who will cross over to the Boy Scouts next month, even had the blue prints for an actual ’57 Porsche Speedster.

“We have full-scale model in the garage,” said his father, Bill Dietlein, who said his son would look closely at it to get the shape right.

“We had to do a lot of hand sanding for the contours,” said Wesley.

Tiger Cub Matthew Linvill, 6, created what he called a “wildlife car.” He painted it silver and adorned it with stickers of eagles and bears.

“I put these weights on here like a chair for the driver,” he said, pointing to lead weights that brought the wood body up to regulation weight.

R.J. Thompson, 10, is a second-year “Webelo,” which is an acronym for “We’ll be Loyal Scouts.” He was inspired to design his race car, long thin and painted gold, by the movie “Top Secret.”

“It’s called the gold dragon car,” said the Fremont Elementary School student. “The design is like an arrow.”

The panel of three style judges gave R.J. the “Most Imaginative” award.