District races take Pinewood Derby to the next level

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Robert Cocola’s Panda Pounder usually races first to test track. It’s one the Scouts love to try and beat. Robert Cocola’s Panda Pounder usually races first to test track. It’s one the Scouts love to try and beat.

EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP – While the Pinewood Derby remains a popular staple of Cub Scouting, not all area packs wheel out their best cars to the district event.

The Jersey Shore Council’s District 5 and 6 event is scheduled for Saturday, March 9 at the Atlantic Christian School on Zion Road in Egg Harbor Township.

“The main objective for the Pinewood Derby I would say is getting the Cubs to work with a parent to build the car,” said Robert Cocola, who heads up the district-level event. “My objective is to have fun racing cars. It’s a 41-year obsession with me – Tiger through Eagle.”

It’s a learning process for Cubs, he said.

“I push for the Cubs to get involved,” Cocola said. “Obviously adults cut the cars out. I like it when kids design and decorate them.”

He said the Cub Scouts get to use a number of skills for what most consider the highlight of each year. And competing at the district level raises the bar.

“It’s the big event,” Cocola said. “It’s more than their den or their pack. It’s to show them there are more packs out there doing the same thing. They’re only a small piece of it; part of something bigger.”

The district contest is open to the top five racers of each rank in each pack, according to Cocola. That’s 25 Cubs per pack.

“Trophies will be awarded to the top six racers of each rank,” Cocola said. “These racers will go on to the council races in May.”

Registration must be made and paid in advance prior to the event, he said. The price is $70 per pack. But contact him, Coppola said. Deals can be made for Scouts entering on their own.

“It’s $70 for 25 entries,” he said. “If three or four kids are entering from a pack, we’re not going to charge them $70. It will be a fair price for the group.”

Some cubmasters do not support the district races, he said, and don’t inform parents about them.

“Some of this dates back many years,” Cocola said. “And sometimes people just don’t agree with each other.”

All he wants, Cocola said, is to give all Cub Scouts the chance to advance. If the top five in a given rank don’t enter, the district racing slot becomes open to others finishing lower.

“I would like to put the word out to everyone, letting them know that the event is happening and they just need to contact me. I can work with them to get the pack entered or enter just the Scouts who want to participate.”

Each pack is asked to bring a door prize, he said.

Northfield Kiwanis has signed on as a sponsor and will present trophies for most original and best design for each district.

“They will also do the judging,” Cocola said. “I’m glad we don’t have to get involved with that.”

Districts 5 and 6 cover most of Atlantic County – from Hammonton to Atlantic City and from Galloway to Somers Point.

District 5 check-in starts at 9 a.m. with races starting at 11. District 6 check-in starts at 11:30 a.m. with races starting at 1:30 p.m.

For details see www.jerseyshore-bssa.org or Pinewood Derby JSC D5/6 on Facebook.

Call Cocola at (973) 600-0992.

A host of cars staged and waiting to race. A host of cars staged and waiting to race.


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