Pinewood Prep

The late Steve “Mr. Pinewood Derby” Taylor (left) places Pinewood Derby cars on the track under the watchful eye of a young Cub Scout. The Cub Scout with the fastest car at this year’s Harry Miller District Pinewood Derby will be the first winner of the Steve “Mr. Pinewood Derby” Taylor trophy. Local Scouters plan to keep Taylor’s memory alive by awarding a trophy to the fastest car in the district each year.

For Cub Scouts in Ada and across the country, it is Pinewood Derby season. And nowhere are Cub Scouts more excited to be building cars with their folks than in Ada. Local Cub Scouts have let their imaginations soar as they opened up that box containing their Pinewood Derby kit. Just a simple block of wood with some grooves in the bottom that will soon hold the four nails on which they will carefully place the four wheels that came in that box. Add some paint and the included decals and, “Look out, world. We are ready for the race!”

How could the folks at that first Pinewood Derby held back on May 15, 1953, by Cub Scout Pack 280C of Manhattan Beach, Calif., ever have dreamed what they were starting?Who would have thought that 60 years later — and, according to the Boy Scouts of America’s supply division, more than 100 million cars later — the derby would be an American tradition, with over 1 million participants a year? 

Each local Cub Scout pack will have their own Pinewood Derby sometime before the Harry Miller District Pinewood Derby on Saturday, March 1, at 1 p.m. Saturday. This year’s district Pinewood Derby will be held in the McBride Gym in the Bill Cole University Center on the campus of East Central University. 

The Scouts in each age division who finish first through fourth in their pack’s derby will go on to race at the district Pinewood Derby. The top three finishers in each division there will go on to race at the council Pinewood Derby. At the district Pinewood Derby, the fastest three cars in each age group will hold a special tournament to see who wins the first Steve “Mr. Pinewood Derby” Taylor trophy for having the fastest car in the district. 

Steve Taylor passed away last fall, but local Scouters wanted to keep his memory alive by naming a trophy after him. Steve helped out in a lot of ways over the years his sons, Sam and Jake, have been Cub Scouts. But, according to local Scouters, what he loved more than anything else and will always be known for was helping with Pinewood Derbies.

What a great example of the Scout Law he was and particularly the first eight parts — trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful — as he helped Cub Scouts get ready for the Pinewood Derby. They came to his house with parents in tow to work on cars. He loaned out his tools. He welcomed phone calls and emails. He spent hours working with Cub Scouts and their single moms (and sometimes dads!) who had never used tools or didn’t own tools but wanted to be able to build a car with their sons. Steve was all too happy to make that happen. 

He was always happy to help out at any pack, district or council derby. He would arrive with his big box of tools, spare parts, weights, scales and more, as well as a big smile on his face. He wanted every derby, big or small, to be the best it could be for every Cub Scout there. 

When Steve talked, everyone listened because he was an expert in the Pinewood Derby field. He had a track at his home, and his hobby was building cars. And when they were ready, he carefully packaged them up and mailed them to Atlanta, where a group raced the cars sent in from all over the USA and the world down their track. One of Steve’s cars set and — as far as anyone in Ada knows — still holds the track record. Yes, from the hundreds, if not thousands, of cars sent in over the years by engineers, scientists, graduate students and hobbyists from around the globe, the best time ever recorded was by a car built by Steve. He loved to build the cars, but he also knew each car he built would make him better at helping local Cub Scouts with their cars. 

Many will also remember what a great example of dignity, strength and courage he was as he battled against the illness that put him on the lung transplant list. And they will remember how he faced the setbacks and red tape he encountered as he, more than once, came so close to getting the transplant he needed, only to be told no.

Steve never looked for sympathy or pity or special treatment. Never did he try to draw attention to himself or his plight. For the last couple of years, he brought his breathing equipment with him to the races. Few of the Scouts even noticed the tube under his nose or the equipment at his side that helped him breathe. But they, and their parents, will no doubt notice that he is not there this year to help them or cheer them on. 

Yes, Steve’s all-too- short life was a great race. And so it is only fitting that local Cub Scouts have a great race of their own. A race for the Steve “Mr. Pinewood Derby” Taylor trophy. 


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