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Pinewood vehicles race in annual derby

CAMPTON HILLS - For more than an hour, the wooden cars raced down the tracks.

Some were carved into wedges, some shaved virtually flat, others resembled hot rods, drag racers or the Batmobile, or even a dugout canoe. And all were humorously decorated, with a handful carrying the likeness of characters from the Angry Birds video game, and many more painted with flames, skulls and logos of favored professional sports teams.

And as the various vehicles zipped down the tracks, six at a time, the results were greeted by various whoops of delight, tears of defeat, or neutral stares and shrugs of indifference, as the vehicles' creators and their friends took in the action.

Saturday, Cub Scouts Pack 165 held its annual Pinewood Derby. About four dozen vehicles were entered in the competition, held this year at the First Congregational Church on LaFox Road in Campton HIlls.

Each vehicle was designed, carved, decorated and submitted by a parent-child duo from Ferson Creek Elementary School on Bolcum Road, where Pack 165 is based.

Carolyn Schwartz, an assistant cub master with Pack 165, said the event is annually one of the most anticipated events on the calendar for the scouts and their parents, alike.

"It's definitely one of the highlights of the year," Schwartz said.

She said two of her three sons participate as Cub Scouts in the group, and they put significant work into their racing vehicles, which they customize from kits given them about a month before the derby.

"My son, who is now seven, he'd be out in the garage everyday after school, sanding that thing," Schwartz said. "I had to tell him to stop, or he'd not have a car left to enter," she added with a laugh.

Keith Schmid, of St. Charles, a den master with Pack 165, said the derby gives the scout and his parents a task to perform together.

He said he works with his children - a son, Evan, and a daughter, Dana, who participates in the sibling races, for non-Cub Scout car designers - on the cars, cutting the wood to get them started.

But from there - the design, the sanding, the painting - the rest is done by the children, and it shows in the personalized, completed project.

Schmid said his son entered a car decorated as an ice cream cone, while his daughter entered a vehicle shaped like the top half of a ring.

"You can design just for speed, or for fun," Schmid said. "We're much more about fun."


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