|L-R: 2009-2nd Place, 2010-2nd Place, 2011-4th Place|
O.k., so really I'm not all that interested in beating the kids, but I will admit that I really want to beat my coworkers and some of them take it pretty seriously. I went for a Hail Mary with a new design this year hoping that it would result in a fast car. However, taking that much wood off that thing resulted in a super light weight. And, if you've ever watched your chocolate cake eating friend kill you on the down hills, you know weight equals speed. In Pine Wood Derby a car cannot exceed 5 oz. so I'd need to find a way to fill this thing with lead. I managed to have it coming in at 5 oz. on the nose. I was pumped! The only thing left was to put the wheels on, the most important stage of the build. This is when it all started to go horribly wrong. A mishap with some ill advised Gorilla Glue had the 2011 model a complete mess. I was forced to pull a set of wheels off one day before the race and add another set. The removing and adding of wheels caused two cracks in the frame - not good. Needless to say the wheels were not running true. There was no more time, I had to run what I brung.
Race Day: I put up a mediocre time in the time trials and was seeded 14th out of some 55 cars. Not bad, but not great. I wasn't worried, I've always been a strong finisher. However, there were two cars in the group, two cars that I helped a couple of youth build that were running extremely fast. In fact, one of these cars ended up getting the number one seed. They would prove tough to beat. I ended up going head to head with my coworker/friend and edged him out to move on to ultimately the quarter finals. Elated and confident I thought about how I'd manage the overall win. It wouldn't be right if I actually did win it all, sending a lot of little kids home to tell their parents about the jerk staff who put 12 hours into his car just to beat the children. No worries, it wasn't meant to be.
Soon, a match up to go to the finals formed between the two kids I helped with their cars. I call them J.M. and Airton. J.M. is a guy I work directly with and I'd been listening to him talk obsessively about his car (which he misplaced for two weeks) for about a month. Airton is a younger boy who I've taken under my wing so to speak. One of these two would move to the finals, meaning one of them would be crushed. Airton took the loss hard, fighting back tears, he sat on the side line staring straight ahead while J.M. accepted the cheers and screams from the other 50 plus faithful.
Then, the unthinkable, I would have to face off with Airton for a 3rd place race. But, there was a problem! Some staff removed Airton's weights from his car thinking he was done for the day. There was no time to attach his weights, he'd have to run without them meaning he'd surely lose. They lined our cars up in the starting gate and my white machine shot out front and destroyed Airton's car. As we lined up for the second run (best of three) I noticed a dejected Airton sobbing by the finish line, with huge crocodile tears running down his cheeks. I knew what I had to do. They released the gate for the second run and I held my finger on the back of my car while Airton's machine broke free and was heading down the track. I held it, and held it, then finally released when I knew there wasn't enough track to catch him. I fained complaints to the starter and had him check the track. Airton won the second heat and the roof came off the place as over 50 students began to chant "AIRTON, AIRTON, AIRTON". He'd forced a 3rd run for a chance at 3rd place. Again, I held my car back in the starter's gate, but made this run a bit closer. I was edged out at the line taking 4th, while my boy's tears dried and were replaced by an ear to ear grin for the rest of the day. I high fived him before he headed off to the winner's circle for awards and pictures.
One of my best race days.