When I was a Cub Scout I looked forward to the Pinewood Derby. Dad and I spent hours in the basement workshop carving the car out of a block of wood and making sure the wheels were round and the graphite and weights were in the right spots. I came in third in the pack and got to go to districts … a little nostalgia here … and I’m not alone. Over the past 30 years or so, nostalgia has quickly become a national pass time.
Keeping with this trend an activity that was long thought unable to be re-experienced is coming to the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix … the Pinewood Derby … but this time it’s for adults. This exercise in basic physics will kick off the Grand Prix on May 28 from 1-6 p.m. The new adult-oriented activity is sponsored by Fifth Third bank and also carries full support and enthusiasm of the Boy Scouts of America Michigan Crossroads Council.
This Pinewood Derby is a team sport. Participants will get the exact same kit scouts have used the Pinewood Derby’s inception in 1953, and there’s no leeway for adults. Anyone who wants to take part in the event is limited by the same rules and specifications in weight, length, width and building materials that any scout would be bound by. (Remember no oil in the axles and running it through a wind tunnel to check aerodynamics is, well, just gauche.).
Once completed, the vehicles race in downhill heats in the raceways pit lanes. The three fastest times and the best design will be given awards. All participants will then be welcomed into the Grand Prix Club chalet for a reception.
With Metro Detroit’s long list of people connected with the auto industry, both technical and creative, this will be a very interesting race. Many of the men and women participating will come from suppliers, design firms and strong engineering schools, which is sure to do both the unique tradition of the Pinewood Derby and the Motor City’s own racing history proud.
“We are very excited to host the very first Fifth Third Corporate Pinewood Grand Prix on Belle Isle,” said Charles Burns, Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix general manager. “This event is a great way to wave the green flag on race week activities and we look forward to working with Fifth Third Bank and the Boy Scouts of America Michigan Crossroads Council to create a unique and memorable experience.”
A portion of all proceeds will go to Boy Scout program’s throughout the region.
“Since 1953, millions of Cub Scouts and their families have participated in Pinewood Derby races. The Pinewood Derby is now a premier annual event of the Cub Scouts. More than 50 million kids and their parents have built and participated in Pinewood Derby races,” said Gary Gilger, chief development officer, Michigan Crossroads Council. “This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Pinewood Derby. The adult Pinewood Derby competition that is taking place is a fundraiser for the Michigan Crossroads Council, Boy Scouts of America. We are excited about this partnership with Fifth Third Bank and the ability to bring this tradition to the Detroit Grand Prix week celebration.”
“As a sponsor of the Chevrolet Belle Isle Detroit Grand Prix I could not be more pleased than to have the Fifth Third Corporate Pinewood Grand Prix serve as the kickoff event to Grand Prix Week in the Motor City,” said Jack Riley, senior vice president, marketing, Fifth Third Bank. “This fundraiser is the springboard for Fifth Third’s sponsorship of the Boys Scouts of America Michigan Crossroads Council.”
The Fifth Third Corporate Pinewood Grand Prix will do many things. It will challenge and utilize our region’s engineering and design specific skill sets. It will create concept cars at a much lower cost than those you see at the auto shows. It will allow more people to take part in the Grand Prix. And, best of all and my favorite, it will allow people to be kids again and relive a very special time. It might even start a new tradition for the Motor City… motorless racing. So drivers, carve your engines!
For more information on the Fifth Third Corporate Pinewood Grand Prix and to register for the race, please visit www.michiganscouting.org.
Detroit Pinewood Derby Track