Photos and Story by Trevor Stamp
The cars were off, speeding down the track as spectators tried not to blink, hoping not to miss the winner. These vehicles have no drivers. They are made out of blocks, designed and fitted with wheels by the audience watching: fourth and fifth-graders of the Boys and Girls Club of the Foothills. This is the Pinewood Derby. It’s the project of Nathan McRae, a 15-year-old member of Boy Scout Troop 358 of San Marino.
McRae is going for his Eagle Scout rank, and to reach that honor he needed to complete a community service project. The project required a lot of coordination and planning on the part of McRae. Leading up to the event, he had to reach out for donations to pay for the materials to build the cars and rent the track for race day. He received donations from the Monrovia and Arcadia Rotary clubs, Waste Management, Ganahl Lumber, Posey Medical Supplies and In-n-Out.
Meeting very Friday for three weeks, McRae, with the help of his family and fellow boy scouts, led a group of fourth and fifth graders through the project. They designed their own cars with spray paint, brushes, stickers and whatever else sparked their imagination.
It all culminated in an epic derby on October 16. Issues came up, like a problem with the rented track, wheels falling off the cars and more. But McRae was prepared and learned from the leadership experience. “Leadership takes a lot of planning,” he with a smile.