The Pinewood derby is a racing event for Cub Scouts in the Boy Scouts of America. Cub Scouts, with the help of parents, build their own cars from wood, usually from kits containing a block of pine, plastic wheels and metal axles. With the popularity of the pinewood derby, other organizations have developed similar events and a small industry has developed to provide tracks, timers, scales and other products. The pinewood derby was selected as part of "America's 100 Best" in 2006 as "a celebrated rite of spring" by Reader's Digest. Similar Cub Scouting events include the raingutter regatta with boats and the space derby using rubber band powered rockets.
The first pinewood derby was held on May 15, 1953, in Manhattan Beach, California by Pack 280c, organized by Cubmaster Don Murphy. Murphy's son was too young to participate in the popular Soap Box Derby races, so he came up with the idea of racing miniature wood cars. The cars had the same gravity-powered concept as the full-size Soap Box Derby cars, but were much smaller and easier to build. After Don Murphy's first race in 1953 the Los Angeles County Department of Recreation copied the pinewood derby with Murphy's permission.
In the 1980s, the design of the block was changed from a cutout block, consistent with a 1940's style front-engined Indy 500 car, to a solid block. The tires were also changed from narrow, hard plastic, to wider "slicks".
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