Tradition of wooden car derby unites old and new Cub Scouts


SMALL WOODEN CARS raced down a new wooden track at Cub Pack 432's Pinewood Derby.

The all-day event included heats for Cub Scouts from first through fifth grades and a "Big Kids Race" for older participants and family members.

The race was held Saturday in the parish hall of Grace Episcopal Church in Elkridge, the church that has sponsored the Cub Pack since its beginning. The pack has held a derby every year since 1949.

Bill Prehn, who served as Cubmaster for the pack for 10 years, has two of the cars that he raced as a child when his father, Herman Prehn, and Al Seipes were the pack's Cubmasters.

Bill Prehn's son, Christopher Prehn, 10, a second-year Webelo, raced a silver car this year. Another son, Gregory Prehn, 13, was a member of the pit crew.

The Cub Scouts received their Official Grand Prix Pinewood Derby Kits from Santa Claus at the pack's Christmas party.

The kit included a block of pine wood 2 3/4 inches wide and 7 inches long, four black plastic wheels, four metal axles to attach the wheels to the car and a set of rules.

The rules are strict: The hand-held cars must weigh no more than 5 ounces. They must be freewheeling and contain no starting devices. Dry graphite is the only lubricant permitted. On derby day, each car must pass an inspection.

Pit crews work on any car that fails inspection. They lighten cars by drilling out a bit of wood or install weights for cars that seem light.

"If it's humanly possible to get the car to run, they do," says Beth Hodge, wife of pack leader Denny Hodge.

Much has been written about strategies for winning the derby -- including suggestions about where to place weights and how to design a car for maximum speed.

Cub Scouts learn about racing and mechanics. They can visit Web sites and watch videos to study possible designs.

Ribbons were awarded to the top finishers on each level of Scouting, and awards were given for the most colorful or most original cars.

This year, David Bateman finished first overall. Ryan Petr finished second and Matt Wheeler finished third.

Matt Russell, 10, created a Scooby Doo car this year. Last year, he designed a vehicle that was a dead ringer for the Titanic.

This year, Pat Elza and her husband, Keith Elza, spearheaded efforts to get a new track.

Keith Elza -- an employee of Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. -- approached a co-worker, Jim Brackett, known for his talent as a woodworker.

The pack supplied materials, and Brackett made the track.

The track measures nearly 40 feet long and has a starting lever and an electronic device to record the order of finish. It accommodates four cars at a time.

"The pack gave our oldest son, Keith, a great foundation," Pat Elza said. "We wanted to make sure that the tradition continues."

Pat Elza is also organizing an auction of used home items to benefit Boy Scout Troop 432. The auction will be held March 27.

If you would like to donate items for the auction, call her at 410-796-4474.

Welcome, neighbor

Tim Lingle, a new Elkridge resident, wants to share his love of plastic model-building with children.

Saturday, he led a one-day workshop in plastic modeling and is conducting a four-session series at the Elkridge library.

The child of missionary parents, Lingle grew up in Japan, where he saw "phenomenal interest" in plastic modeling. He recommends as first-time models a Plymouth Prowler, a Dodge Viper, a F8F Bearcat, an M3 Stuart tank or a T-Rex dinosaur.

Lingle recently moved to the area from a small town near Princeton, N.J., close to where his parents settled after returning from Japan.

Singing and dancing

Howard High School will present "Showcase '99," a variety show featuring teachers and students, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

They will sing and dance to popular songs.

Faculty members Rick Lawrence and Marc Barron will play keyboard and saxophone in the showcase band.

Student performers will include Jeff Corbett and Bryan Frank on guitar; Tony Corbett on percussion; Cecily Culp on keyboard and Tom Harron on bass.

Students Donald Chiarella, Ronald Coursey and Jevne Reid will be hosts for the event.

Tickets are $6 at the door.

Proceeds will support the school's musical, "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," to be performed March 18, 19 and 20.


Forty-nine students at Dunloggin Middle School made straight A's in the fall semester.

The young people were honored at a breakfast Dec. 4.

Each received a coupon for a free dinner from Outback Steakhouse, a business partner of Dunloggin.

Young musicians

Five Dunloggin students were selected to participate in the 1998-1999 Howard County Middle School Gifted and Talented Symphonic Band.

Nicole Arkin and Lindsay Sutton will play French horn; David Green and T. J. Long clarinet; and Chris Nithianandam alto saxophone.

Centennial High School students were recently selected for All-State bands and orchestras.

Jessica Park, Dean Wang, Michael Alpert and Laura Goss were among those selected for the junior orchestra or band.

Selected for senior orchestra or band are: Albert Luo, Andy Yang, Jennifer Williams, Joe Yeh, Meghan McDonald, Kenny Horan, Dana Coelho, Eric Brim, Yvonne Lee and Rachel Alpert.

They will perform in Baltimore on Feb. 21-23.

Perfect mathematicians

Andy Yang, Brian Tsung, Jason Levin, Kevin Krasnausky and Tim Prestel -- members of Centennial High School's math team -- earned a perfect score in the Math Team Competition held in November, a first in the history of the county competition.

Bags of Plenty

Trinity School in Ilchester completed a drive in November to fill Bags of Plenty for the Maryland Food Bank, and to provide toys, puzzles, arts and crafts items and books to PACT -- an organization that helps children with special needs.

Pub Date: 1/11/99

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