Donuts on wheels

For us, it happens every January. And every January, I forget it’s coming.

It’s the Pinewood Derby.

If you know a Cub Scout, then you’ve probably heard all about it. I once made the mistake of explaining it as “a race with wooden cars” in front of my boys and my husband. I’ll never do that again.

planningApparently, I had forgotten all about the mechanics of building one of these cars from the standard wood block set that each Scout receives. There’s the planning phase, the rough cuts, the sanding, the painting. Then metal bits are embedded into the car to bring its weight up to, but not over, 5 ounces. But you’re still not done. You’ve got to mount the wheels just so and sand the axels just right so the car can fly down the steep track. There’s a million little steps to making one of these cars before you race it in one big event.

But first… the design.

It can’t be too tall or too wide for the track. Other than that, you can do pretty much anything. So what concept did my son C come up with for his derby car?


A big ol’ box of donuts on wheels. He’s a kid after my own heart.

He and my husband S worked on this thing forever. Every time I turned around, I found a new, half-eaten box of donuts on the counter. When I asked S about it, he told me that he had to buy them — “for research.”

(Sidenote: for the past several weeks, my kids would sidle into the kitchen, glancing all around before they’d ask me, “Hey Mom? Is there any ‘research’ left over?” I think my oldest was so sad when the Derby was over because he knew the donuts had left the building.)

They painstakingly worked on the look of the donut box. C made little donuts from modeling clay and painted them to have that just-iced donut look. I love it.

The good news? It didn’t finish last. I’ve said it before — in our house, style trumps speed every single time.

Got a Cub Scout of your own? What’s the best Pinewood Derby car you’ve ever seen?


About thethingaboutjoan

Mom of three who knits a little, bakes a lot, crafts a bit and blogs about it all.
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18 Responses to Donuts on wheels

  1. how many donut boxes did you guys went through? 🙂

  2. Northern Narratives says:

    I think the research part is very important in these type of projects 🙂
    I wonder what they will build next year?

  3. Wow! The model clay doughnuts really had me fooled! That’s an amazing concept! I’m impressed!

  4. Yum yum car.
    The Pinewood Derby is a cool & nice event. My son is a scout & participated in the Derby last year. We had a good time, but are not quite as serious regarding his construction. I blogged about it too.

    • It’s all about the concept for our boys; speed really is secondary. They envision something, they work it out with my husband and that’s pretty much the whole thing for them. As long as they finish … and preferably finish not dead last … the boys have been pretty content with the racing.

      From my point of view, I’m just astonished at the amount of work put into these little cars. It’s something to watch the kids working so hard on them.

  5. timewiththea says:

    i didn’t have sons and my daughters had no interest in being Girl Guides (even though I was one) so I missed out on this experience. Looking forward to hearing about the results!

  6. Katie B says:

    Great concept and perfect execution. Would love to have helped with research on that car. E is working on a loch ness monster car. The designing is done, now it’s on to cutting. His race is the end of February so we have a little bit of time for all the rest of it..

  7. Cul de Sac says:

    How cool!! My kids don’t do that at Scouts 😉 i bet my son would have a blast doing a project like this lol! The donuts looked real enough, and the car is just plain cool looking!! Congrats to your big boy!

    • Thanks, Josée! It’s quite the production on race day — with the weighing in of the cars and running the races and voting on design. But both my boys loved making their cars. Not once have they made a traditional car — you know, one that looks like an actual car. But I think my son C is really onto something with his food cars. Fussing over a wooden car is much more enjoyable after a couple donuts!

  8. alenaslife says:

    Congrats to your derby son. I admit (with some guilt) that I’m grateful my sons are not Scouts. No Pinewood Derby for us, but they sure do love doughnuts.

    • Thanks, Alena. No guilt, though. I’m never sure how anyone can fit in sports and Scouts without compromising somewhere — especially as they get older. Our Cub Scout troop does a lot of events and activities and we only make it to the ones that we can (and then I feel guilty about that!).

      He does like making these derby cars. And now that he’s found the food angle, I’m sure we’ll be in for some candy/pizza/hot dog/chocolate type car next year.

      And I’m with your boys — everything’s better with donuts, don’t you think?

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