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It is pinewood derby season in the Illinois Valley and more than 100 local Cub Scouts came out Saturday to compete in the annual Loweneu District races.
“It’s all about teamwork. It’s all about family involvement,” said Brad Falatko, a unit serving executive for Loweneu District, which includes La Salle, Bureau and Putnam counties.
In many recent years past, Scouts and family members crowded into the garden section at Wal-Mart in Peru to watch as handmade pinewood derby cars raced down a nearly-40-year-old wooden track, but this year the track was aluminum with a more modern electronic system to register each car’s time.
The track was donated to the district about a year ago by Technisand in Troy Grove, Falatko said.
“It’s a brand new track, so it’s free for all the packs in the area to use,” he said.
Racing on the aluminum track requires special planning. Norman Harris, scout master of Princeton’s troop 63, was operating the starting gate on the track for the second year. He said a car’s weight distribution plays an important role on the metal track and some Scouts had added weight too far in the rear of their racer. “It needs to be balanced,” he said.
As always, Scouts’ cars was customized with designs ranging from Super Mario and sports teams’ logos to images of zombies and, in one case, Korean pop star Psy. Falatko said about 10 of the roughly 26 packs in the district competed this year. Many packs will hold their derbies over the next few weeks.