Annual Pinewood Derby held at mall

STEUBENVILLE – “Racers, are you ready?” “Yes” came a shout from the other end of the track during Saturday’s annual Pinewood Derby at the Fort Steuben Mall.

Several cars would zip down the metal track while anxious Cub Scouts would wait to see if they would advance to the next round of competition.

That went on for about nine hours as the field of 132 racers were slowly whittled down during the triple-elimination competition. Parents sat around the track watching the competition, while the Cub Scouts scurried about in a methodical dance of waiting for the next round.

Cub Scouts in grades one through five from the Two Chiefs District traveled from throughout the Upper Ohio Valley for the event.

Races on Friday were for Boy Scouts who once competed in the event, as well as parents or family members of the Scouts.

Joe Kovaleski of the Two Chiefs District and the Pinewood Derby race chairman, won the hot rod class. Meshelle Seminsky of Follansbee, a parent in Cub Scout Pack 334, won the stock class.

Kovaleski said the Pinewood Derby teaches the Cub Scouts a lot of lessons.

“It teaches them how to win. It teaches them how to lose. Losing isn’t everything. They can always come back next year,” he said.

“It is a parent-son project. They learn basic woodworking skills” he said.

“It gives them the support to work on the cars themselves,” said Lori Clark of Toronto, mother of J.C. Clark of Pack 47, Empire.

Dan Gamble of Wintersville, a Two Chiefs District race official, and Robert Knight, an assistant scout master with Troop 20, shared the responsibility of yelling, “Racers are you ready,” before pulling the lever that released the cars down the track. If the Scouts didn’t yell back “Yes” loud enough, they would repeat the question.

Knight said he had to take a break for a period Saturday afternoon to save his voice.

Gamble said he has participated in the Pinewood Derby races for the past 20 years. He also worked at the table where cars were inspected or repaired.

Knight fondly remembers his mother Sandy, now deceased, working with him as a young Scout in building his Pinewood Derby cars.

“It teaches the Scouts to try their best. You tell them they did their best after the race. If they lost, you wish them better luck next year.”

Trintan Lawson of Pack 39, New Cumberland was the winner Saturday. The remaining top six finishers in order were: Aiden Minch-Hick, Pack 415, Wintersville; Andrew Coursin, Pack 737, Wellsburg; Michael Sich, Pack 401, Steubenville; Ethan Robey, Pack 334, Weirton; and Tristan Lawson of Pack 39, New Cumberland.

Each of the six winners were presented trophies and gift cards courtesy of the Fort Steuben Mall.

“It was a good day. We had very few problems,” Kovaleski said.

A set of rules is passed out to the Scouts and parents, stating the car has to be constructed from a Scout kit.

Kovaleski said there is always entries where tires or axles are purchased elsewhere.

He said overweight cars had to be adjusted prior to racing.

“We try to make it as even a playing field as possible for the boys,” he said.

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