Pinewood Derby Has Scouts and Dads Alike Hooked

Pinewood Derby Has Scouts and Dads Alike Hooked

Cub Scouts go nuts for Pinewood Derby, but as The New York Times reported on Sunday, they aren’t the only ones getting a rush from racing intricate blocks of wood – dads are getting in on the action, too. Fathers of Cub Scouts are taking the Scouting sport to another level.

Whether these dads are collaborating with their sons or branching out on their own, this racing hobby is taking a life of its own. For the serious derby enthusiasts, participants join private leagues, compete for national rankings and even buy or sell specialized tools and components from their own home. Take John Halliburton’s story, for example. Halliburton runs the National Pinewood Derby Racing League (the largest in the country) and also manages Hundreds of cars from across the country are mailed to his league for the chance at derby bragging rights. And while much of these guys have Scouts involved in the races, many dads enjoy the hobby even after their sons advance out of Cub Scouts.

“The dads drive it,” said Halliburton to The New York Times. “A large group of them have kids in Scouts and when the kids get out, they disappear, but there’s a chunk of hobbyists that don’t have kids involved.”

Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 12.43.38 PM

Cub Scouts of Pack 45 watch their Pinewood Derby cars race (photo via Lauren Justice for The New York Times)

Send Your Racer to the Big Leagues

Think your derby car stacks up? You might have some stiff competition.

“Occasionally a Scout dad will get curious and send a car in,” Halliburton said. “Most people think they are unbeatable until they come to a race and then they get slaughtered. Usually that’s the last you see of them, but the competitive ones dig in and learn to build a car.”

Dads like Joel Redfearn believed he had a shot at victory. Yet after he and his Cub Scout poured hours of hard work and creativity into a car only to be creamed, he realized the Pinewood Derby leagues are the real deal. But Redfearn didn’t let the loss get him down. He pressed on and is now one of the top racers in the country. He also frequently organizes races in his community to get Scouting families involved. With the help of Redfearn’s expertise and few minor adjustments, local Cub Scouts are cranking out winning cars left and right. And the boys of Pack 45 can’t get enough of it.

“There are 49 boys in the pack, and for Pinewood Derby, we have almost a 100 percent participation rate,” said Cubmaster Steve Krieg. “It’s a better turnout than going to a Brewers or Admirals game.” 

It’s clear that Pinewood Derby isn’t just for the boys. It’s for the dads, too. And when you put both together, you’ve got yourself a timeless Scouting tradition that dads and sons can enjoy for years to come.

Share The New York Times “Not Your Dad’s Pinewood Derby (at Least in Theory)” with your council and tell us about your Pinewood Derby experiences in the comment section below!

Hayley Cordaro

Hayley Cordaro is a member of the Communications team at Boy Scouts of America. She loves sharing inspiring success stories and uncovering new ways volunteers and employees can make the most of their Scouting experience. If you have story ideas or questions, reach out to us at


reach out

Pinewood Derby Has Scouts and Dads Alike Hooked
Pinewood Derby Has Scouts and Dads Alike Hooked
Pinewood Derby Has Scouts and Dads Alike Hooked