Washington Spring Fair pt. 2

The Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts had a pinewood car derby demonstration set up inside at the Spring Fair in Puyallup. I Talked at length with Ethan (above), Ed and Aaron about pinewood derby cars (more on that below). The custom track was made of aluminum and had room for four cars. Ed was describing the difficulties in getting the track just right regarding the slope, smoothness and alignment in order for the cars to 1) go fast and 2) stay on the track.

A pinewood derby car needs to fall into a tight set of regulations in order to be approved to race in the Cub Scouts. In case you were curious:

  • Overall width of the car – 2 3/4″
  • Overall length of the car – 7″
  • Weight – 5 ounces maximum weight.
  • Width between wheels – 1 3/4″
  • Bottom clearance between car and track – 3/8″

In the first photograph, Ethan was explaining why “Smoker” (his favorite car) was the fastest car on the track. The polished wheels and the graphite / “pencil lead” lubrication inside the axle, as well as the weight distribution of the car gave it the edge over the others. Ed went on to explain that during the official Cub Scout pinewood derby races, they have a sensor on the track that will register up to a thousandth of a second. This is on par with the olympics in terms of accuracy.

Left to Right: Ethan, Ed and Aaron.

I think this is a good thing for kids, as well as for the adults that never became engineers. When I was about 13 years old I was in a science class in school. We were assigned to build a bridge made of pasta, and an egg launcher that would launch an egg and land it without it breaking. Throughout the length of this class, I realized pretty quickly that my dad cared more about the assigned projects than I did. In fact, he designed the pasta bridge by drawing it out on graph paper with overall dimensions as well as dimensions of the inner joints of the bridge. It took a few weeks to build, but when I brought that bridge to school, I broke the record for amount of weight held by a bridge made of spaghetti. The school ran out of weight once we hit 237 pounds – bridge unbroken.

This is the second post in a series about the Washington Spring Fair.


  • Ryder Collins

    I am a photographer living in Seattle Washington that is in love with photographing those fleeting surprise moments. I have always been a people watcher, and when I picked up a camera for the first time my natural inclination was to go out on the street and photograph people. I've always been attracted to photographing the emotions of people and the oftentimes absurd nature of the human experience. At this point I am becoming most interested in visual storytelling through documentary style photography. My current work involves documenting the people of Seattle - how they live, find excitement and resiliency in this city that feels equal parts anxiety and hope.

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