The Pinewood Derby is an event that your sons will participate in if they become cub scouts.
You'll sign your kids up for cub scouts even though you frown on the BSA's stance on homosexual leaders because you're desperate for someone, anyone, to teach your kids good manners and besides you're a Unitarian so the kids meet plenty of gay couples at fellowship.
So you sign up for cub scouts and it's pretty fun. There are parades, pledges, secret handshakes, and field trips, and your kids look pretty smart in those uniforms.
And then it's February and your kids come home from scouts with a block of wood and tell you that you're suppose to help them make it into a car, and not just any car, a car that will win the derby.
So you nod and look excited and give the box to your husband and think "yes!" finally a project were dads get judged with the same unfairness with which moms get judged: Halloween costumes, clever goodie bags at the birthday party, the most desirable dessert at the pot luck, your kids appearance. No one ever thinks a kid is dirty and has messy hair because their dad is a slacker.
On the other hand, The Pinewood Derby is all about the dads.
The Dad's who were once cub scouts themselves have the first advantage because they've already seen which car designs are the sleekest. Then there's the weight and where to put the weight, and how to incorporate your son's Star Wars theme, or "make mine an alligator like Billy's dad did last year," (curses to Billy's dad).
And finally knowing how much room to leave between the wheels and the ground so the car doesn't get stuck in the track.
The dads for the most part take their jobs seriously. While moms will stand aside at the pot luck and pretend they don't care if no one eats their green bean casserole, dads pay attention. They stand at the end of the track and take notes and confer with the other dads.
The derby dads have to be ready to problem solve on a moment's notice. This is another category that's usually dominated by moms. Who's got a kleenex, extra bottled water, a sweatshirt, or clean undies? The moms right?
At the derby the dads stand ready, usually armed with pocket knives that look like they came from the prop closet of Survivor.
I once saw a dad chisel down his son's car when it was over 5oz at weigh in. He whittled it symmetrically too, it wasn't just a last minute hack.
Another dad used his pocket knife to dig out a weight to bring his son's car under the weight limit and a third dad tried but alas failed to hollow out the bottom of his son's car so it would stop catching on the track. There was crying.
Like monsters on the edges of ancient maps - the sign above the church basement where the derby is to be held should read, "here there be crying."
I think the reason the Pinewood Derby is held in the basement of a church is so as to give the dads a more direct route with their prayers (Please God don't let my kid come in last), and also to remind people that there are worse things than having your kid be the one whose axel comes off his car midway down the track.
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