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Carving out a winner

Local YMCA holds Pinewood Derby at Saugus High School

Posted: January 27, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: January 27, 2014 2:00 a.m.

Kids watch as several wood cars race on the tracks as the YMCA's Pinewood Derby at the Saugus High School on Sunday. Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea for The Signal.

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They roared with excitement at the race track Sunday as scores of young drivers competed for trophies. 

But, inside the winner’s circle at the annual Pinewood Derby, the trophies proved heavier and larger than the race cars.

On Sunday morning, more than three dozen kids gathered inside the Saugus High School gymnasium for the annual Pinewood Derby competition sponsored by the Santa Clarita YMCA.

“It’s always good anytime you get the kids out here with their dads or moms,” said YMCA Program Director Terry Dixon.

Competitors all wore tan-colored vests decorated with badges that included one of a single arrow. They were all members of the Adventure Guides — formerly Indian Guides which was formerly known as Indian Princesses.

Sunday’s event was hosted by the local Shoshone troop and led by Chris Edwards.

“We all pick an event to host roughly around the same time every year and we chose this one,” he said, pausing to log the race times of the latest race on an overhead monitor.

The local troop designed a diamond-shaped vest badge for the event to be handed out to competitors.

Kids competed for the top title in one of half a dozen racing competitions set up according to elementary grade school levels. They each designed a car carved from a single block of wood not expected to exceed 6 ounces in weight.

Each race saw six cars plunge down a steep incline and zip across 30 feet of track stretched out inside the gym.
Five-year-old Ruby Estrada won the Kindergarten race category for a pink and glitter-decorated pinewood car called, Hello Kitty.

“The design was actually her’s,” said her proud father, Frank. “She wanted to do a Hello Kitty design. Key is the weight.”

Scotty Miller, 10, built a banana-sized orange Dodge Charger decorated with a tiny Confederate flag — instantly familiar to anyone who remembers the muscle car featured in the 70’s TV show “The Dukes of Hazard.”

Although it weighed 7.2 ounces and, subsequently, was not allowed to race, it became an instant hit among competing youngsters as a “show car.”

“Show him the horn,” Miller’s father said, prompting Scotty Miller to press a wee button on the car’s trunk which played a short tune.

Valencia pediatrician “Dr. Mike” Schoenwetter showed up for the competition without his 7-year-old Adventure Guides daughter, Cami, but with her uniquely-designed “One Direction” pinewood car.

“She was sad she had to stay home but she had been throwing up,” he said.

First place winners included: Ruby Estrada, Kindergaren; Jack Dowler, 1st Grade; Summer Davis, 2nd Grade; Jeff Rankin, 3rd Grade and Dean Rigdon, Open Division.

Summer Davis won the first place trophy for the overall Derby finals.
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