pinewood derby . . . girl style!

The same week of the Wasatch Back, I also hosted a daddy/daughter pinewood derby & barbecue for my Activity Day girls and their dads in celebration of Father's Day. We were able to borrow an old track from our brother-in-law's friend for free, which made the whole thing doable (read: affordable). When I was a kid, I always envied my brother and his winning pinewood derby cars. I wanted to build one myself. Assuming all 8 or 9 year old girls feel the same way, I commenced preparing for the activity.

One month before the derby I put together derby kits for the girls to take home. I bought a bulk pack of pinewood derby cars, wheels, and axles. Then I sewed cute bags for each set and attached the printed instructions by sewing them onto the bags. I'm guessing something this cute might not go over very well in the scouting world, but the girls seemed pretty excited about them. Here is the basket of pinewood derby cars before I distributed them:

My initial plan was to hold the derby out in the driveway and have the barbecue out there alongside the track. However, it was pretty warm that week, so I opted to set up the track in our family room and dining room. Then on all the windows I hung pinewood derby banners. Some of the girls helped make and decorate a poster for the event.

And the crowning decoration was the derby flags that each of the girls made. I gave each girl two fabric pennant flags to decorate...one for the pinewood derby and one as a note to their dads for fathers day. They all returned them to me ahead of time, and I sewed them to a ribbon to make a giant banner. It turned out great, and I was so pleased with the lovely notes and lists of things the girls love about their dads. For some reason, we don't have any close-up pictures of these flags, so I have cut in close from the larger photo of them, which gives you the general idea:

Also, for each girl when she arrived, I had made a pinewood derby contestant badge to wear. I just printed these out, had them hard laminated, then punched a hole in each one and tied a ribbon through to create a pseudo-lanyard. It was cute to have the girls all wearing their badges during the derby, and I hope it added to the festivity.

And, in lieu of gifts, I printed out certificates for all the winning categories. I had some gold stickers left over from a school project, so I used those on the certificates. It added a little pizazz. I don't have photos of those really, either. Except at the end I will have some photos of the girls with their certificates. But just a slip of paper isn't much of a prize...bragging rights, sure. But not much of a prize. So I made "trophies" out of cans of root beer and cream soda. One for each dad and one for each girl. They looked like this:
I just played on the A&W logo to make these, using the letters in the word "awesome." I felt better sending everyone home with something.

Now, on to the big event. First of all, we had a barbecue. Each girl had an assignment to bring something, and we provided the hot dogs and kabobs. I will say that in preparation for this event, we needed to obtain a barbecue grill because ours caught fire last year, rendering it unsafe to use again without a fire marshal present. Fortunately, I was able to convince B to sell the old car in front of our house (the one we've been moving and storing, etc. for 7 years without driving it) for enough to purchase a grill. I call it a win-win, and not only that...we'll be able to actually shovel our driveway this winter without trying to manage around that car!

But I digress. So, the barbecue was splendid. Eating, visiting, the usual when it comes to a church group gathering. During this time our bishop came over and judged the cars for us, which was super nice of him to do. Having him there was lots of fun. Thanks for coming Bishop Nichols:
We took a picture of each girl with her dad (or her friends or mom if her dad couldn't make it to the derby) and their car at the beginning of the activity. Here is the group:

Aren't they a cute bunch? And here are the cars...I have to say that I wasn't sure what to expect. I know that the cub scouts go a little crazy when it comes to the pinewood derby. We had the advantage of being able to do whatever we wanted, so there were no regulations regarding weight, design, etc. The only stipulation was that it begin with the original block of wood and wheels. Nothing more. I have to say that what they came up with left me utterly impressed. And our Primary President...hers is the car with the extravagant shoe atop. Wow! Needless to say, it didn't race down the track, but she receives full marks for decoration!

My daughter's car is the flat one in the middle with the Mendi designs on it. She designed the shape of the car, chose the color, and determined how she wanted it decorated. My husband cut the car, affixed the wheels, added the weight on the bottom. I sanded it and drew the designs (though Mags chose which designs she wanted me to use). All in all, a family affair. I tried to make a car of my own as well and got as far as the sanding, painting, and wheels. But no decorations, so I didn't enter it in the contest...maybe I'll just hold on to it for next year!

At the end of the derby, all the girls were excited to receive their certificates. We had races for the fastest and slowest cars, which were both exciting contests. Additionally, we had a number of categories not associated with speed: best paint job, most colorful car, most realistic car, most original car, best workmanship, funniest car, coolest design, most unusual car, slowest car, fastest car, second fasted car, third fastest car, crowd favorite.

Everybody won something, but more importantly, I think everyone had a good time. I was exhausted by the end of it all...which I find is normal for most things worth doing.

I know you must be thinking that the purpose of this blog has turned to documenting Activity Days and nothing else. That I have abandoned its original purpose...to become more of myself, do more with the ideas in my head, develop some ingenuity and become something, well...more. Do not fear...I have not lost track of the original goal. And doing well at my my church job is among my goals for improvement and refinement. But there are some authentically Amy projects in the pipe. I promise. Stay tuned!


  1. Flip! I so love this. You always have the best ideas for parties and activities, and this one is no exception. I will so have to store it in my memory bank for the future. Thanks for sharing!

  2. that design is AMAZING!!! Man...you're an artist! I loved it. such a fun idea! love all your cute preparations! you always amaze me with your skillz!

  3. Sounds like you guys had a lot of fun. :) hope you are in charge when Lilly goes to AD. ; )

  4. I love the Hershey bar car - I'm going to steal that idea! Totally amazing like everything you do.

  5. I'd LOVE to get ahold of your girly certificates. Can you email your template to me at ljlesueur@hotmail.com? We're preparing the same activity for our girls, and your blog has put some good ideas out there. Thanks for sharing!

  6. I feel exhausted just reading what you did. I love the table with the fish.

  7. soo cute! any chance you have a copy of the templates for the papers that were wrapped around the A&W and crème soda pop cans? if so I would love a copy emailed to me as we are having a derby this month and it would be way cute

  8. can you email me your invition necklaces templates? Thank you! karenlscott77@gmail.com

  9. can you email me your invition necklaces templates? Thank you! karenlscott77@gmail.com

  10. So cute! I can't wait to do this. You have such good ideas and I enjoy your blog. Can you send me the lanyard template and also the A&W template when you get a chance? kimberleerolfe@yahoo.com Thank you! Also where did you buy the cars in bulk?