1953. Manhattan Beach, California. Don Murphy organized the first Pinewood Derby on record; for his son who was too young to compete in the bigger league Soap-box Derby. A spring tradition was born as tracks sprung up through-out the nation’s gymnasiums and kids and their folks carved, painted and prayed their cars would beat the pants off that other kid and his dad who refused to help organize the last camp-out when it rained and somebody forgot the ground covers for the tents.
Our factory racer from 1980. Super-low, longest hood in its class.. driver over the rear axle. For all of the advanced styling and engineering of my first Pinewood contender it failed to place in speed.. OR design; Losing to some kid who epoxied a wrench to the basic block of wood (“Mr. Good Wrench”) and destroyed the field with his painfully simplistic scheme.
Replete with Wyoming license plate and, both, Porsche AND Ferrari insignia; A first-ever joint effort between the two super-powers.
So sure were we the car was five ounces- we sealed and painted the weights into the body making for a slippery aero-undercarriage; A queue taken from a 1959 Citroen DS 19.
Back to contest the title in 1981 with a less-nonsense, cab-rearward sedan (a tail-dragger! see below) My second attempt that spring would bag a trophy for Best Design. Lessons learned from the previous season would pay off in craft and finish- not necessarily in technical upgrades.
Simple forms complemented with a clean graphics package; Porsche the solo sponsor this go-round.
Part-lines removed, sanding the wheels smooth for minimal friction contact patch with the track.
Undercarriage aerodynamics abandoned for race-day access to additional weight stowage. Note spot of glue just forward of weight stowage: I don’t know what that is. It’s probably (for whatever reason) why the car wasn’t fast. Also note the hour-glass plan view. Many a day spent with a rasp and fifty grit eating away at that block.
1982: The year it’d all come together. A super-slippery shape paired with the cleaned-up undercarriage/ integrated five-ounce weight; a form so advanced it would predate The Mercedes CLS class by almost 30 years.
Signature-worthy, the hour-glass plan view carried over from the last season. A large diameter weight placed behind the rear axle; no tests were done to explain why.
1st in Design, 2nd in Speed.
Three Seasons and I’m out! I had bigger and better things to do than placate gravity.. Blade Runner and Tron had just released: It was to be a fine summer.