As usual, click any photo to bring up a larger version.
Call it what you will: Cub Cars, Pinewood Derby, or Kub Kars. Whichever you choose, every spring it's racing time!
All the cars our family has built over the years.
Yes, you counted right, there are twenty-two.
It seems like Pinewood Derby is the more well known name, especially among my US friends. However, the boys club at our church has always referred to this as "kubkars", and so that is what I will do here.
For those people who might not know... racing small wooden kit cars is an annual event at kids clubs all over North America (I have no idea if it extends beyond those borders). Kids are given kits consisting of a block of wood, some wheels, and some axles (nails or screws). They are supposed to work with their parent and make a car. There are size, weight, and material restrictions. The cars are then raced down a wooden track, propelled solely by gravity. If you want to know more, head on over to Wikipedia or Google...
This year's set of cars from our family.
From L-R: Zooming Fish Thing, Minecraft, Popsicle, and Black Triangle Thing.
For years, the boys club at our church (cadets), has challenged the girls club (GEMS) to build kubkars, so on race night the hall is packed with screaming kids as well as their parents and grandparents in attendance. Some might call it a battle of the sexes... and at that age, you're right. It's boys against the girls, winner take all.
There are several websites out there devoted to helping you build the fastest car possible. There are companies that will sell you kits, instruction manuals, special weights, and designs "guaranteed" to win. I'm not going to go that far here.
My wife and I have four kids, so over the years that adds up to a lot of cars. This year I gathered them all together to take some photos. That idea grew a bit into this web page, which is partly a photo album of years of racing, along with just a few building tips.
The track is set up in the atrium. Arrive early if you want a good seat, as this is about to be surrounded by screaming kids.
Our track was built for three cars, however we only race two at a time, as our software (ancient DOS-based) is based on triple-elimination. So we run two cars at a time, and the winner advances, and the loser has two more chances before they're bumped.
Different group use different methods and software. Some events are strictly based on time. Some groups don't even have electronic scoring and just judge the winner by eye. I wouldn't want that job, as there were many close finishes.
The next few shots are a bit blurry, my apologies. I was shooting without a flash, as the use of a flash can prematurely set off the electric eyes that are at the finish line.
The software also calculates and displays a "miles per hour" of the winning car. I placed that in quotes as I doubt it's accuracy, given that it was posting speeds of 248-260mph!!! Let's just say that each race is only about 2-3 second long.
My daughter is not really into cars, so her cars have always followed a food theme. So here are five years of food. In reverse order, from L-R: Popsicle, Ice Cream Sundae, Pizza, Ice Cream Sandwich, and Watermelon. (complete with real seeds, though not actual watermelon seeds.)
My oldest son, now a Jr Counsellor, has seven years behind him. Not sure how many more ahead. There is no real theme here, just having fun.
And here are the six cars of #2 son. Of particular note, I think, is the one with flames, as well as the one that is itself a race track with cars racing down it.
Now, #3 Son is only in his second year, so I cruelly did not make up a feature photo of his two cars. In the banner at the top, look for The Tank and the Minecraft Man to see his cars.
In fact, contrary to this photo, I recommend that you paint the car before you finalize the weight. I was surprised at how much weight was added by 2 coats of primer and 3 coats of paint.
The Yellow car in the photo was one of our earliest efforts. I tried putting some round steel ball bearings in those holes, with some hot glue. Not good. They did not stick well at all -- those ball bearings are far too highly polished.
On the right the two cars are shown upside-down. Various sizes and weights of washers are epoxied into holes on the bottom of the car.
The wire is all you need, but what you want is to also add a bit of tape to the wire. You need that to ensure that your car properly trips the electric eye at the finish as soon as the front of the car crosses the line. Without the bit of tape, the eye might miss the wire. (So that is a bit of insurance.)
And that pretty much brings us to the end of this photo essay.