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A need for speed: Cub Scouts get creative trying to build a Pinewood Derby winner

Nate Verbanec, 10, cheers for a car as it races down the track during the Boy Scout Pack 31 annual Pine Wood Derby on Saturday at Home Depot. Below left: Boy Scout Pack 31 and their families challenged several Home Depot employees in the race. Below right:
Nate Verbanec, 10, cheers for a car as it races down the track during the Boy Scout Pack 31 annual Pine Wood Derby on Saturday at Home Depot. Below left: Boy Scout Pack 31 and their families challenged several Home Depot employees in the race. Below right: CDT photo

Gavin Grupe wasn’t shy about showing off a mini race car he created with his mother.

The 9-year-old designed his Pinewood Derby car based on his favorite hobby: playing electric guitar.

It was shaped as a guitar and about the size that could fit in your hand, and was a little less than five ounces. Metal used for the frets and strings acted as weights to help push his car down the ramp the fastest.

He placed third, twice, and second once before the finals of the annual “Are You Faster Than a Cub Scout” Pinewood Derby race Saturday at Home Depot.

It’s an annual event Cub Scout Pack 31 does to put their creativity to the test, serve as friendly competition and help recruit new members to the organization.

Cubmaster Chris English said about 30 Cub Scouts participated in the event.

“There’s a little bit of camaraderie and good times that they have, but it also challenges them,” English said.

The objective was for the participants to race their car down a ramp the fastest with a race car that weighed no more than five ounces.

Trophies were given to the participants with the fastest and slowest times, along with ones for most creative cars.

The troop received their kits just before Christmas and had more than a month to create their cars.

Adam Teel, 9, made his car with his dad, Aaron Teel, which was black with orange highlights and had weights built into it.

English said Cub Scout officials converted the speed of each derby car to how fast they would have gone if they were an actual vehicle.

At its fastest, Adam’s car would have traveled about 199 miles per hour.

The average derby car — after the conversion — would have traveled about 190 mph, English said.

The race was sponsored by Washworld Car Wash in Boalsburg, and hosted by Home Depot.

And this year, the event came with a twist as the troop challenged Home Depot employees to the race.

Store manager Eric Walker said he and 14 other employees met their competition.

“We got a group of employee together and found out just how unprepared we were against these kids,” Walker said. “They got the weight thing down and know what they’re doing.”

For three years, Home Depot has been cutting the cars for the annual event, but was asked to get more involved this year, Walker said.

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