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Pinewood Derby goes virtual
‘A new way to do something that’s always been so traditional’
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Racers from Pack 101 are pictured, Tayton Privett, Samuel Queen and Westin Klemm. Local scout troops are looking forward to watching their cars be raced on video this year. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Boy Scouts of America decided to hold a virtual Pinewood Derby event.

MONROE — What many would agree is one of the Boy Scouts of America’s most popular and traditional events will look very different this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Instead of groups of scouts from troops from Illinois and Wisconsin congregating to race their cars in person in Pecatonica, Illinois, this year, they’ll be watching those creative cars being raced by adults online. The event will be filmed at the Rockford, Illinois, airport hanger and then it will be edited and released for viewing. All races will be broadcasted on the BAC Facebook page on July 18.

It’s Andy Myshkowec’s first year as the Pinewood Derby Race Chairman, and he said when the area council decided to continue the event in a virtual format, they embraced the change and took some comfort knowing the event would still happen.

Races and judging will be similar as in previous years, only this time adults will be racing the vehicles. Judging for categories will be different and will be counted with “likes” on specific cars when the video is posted. There will be about 20 adult volunteers helping handle the cars and to help make the event go well. 

Ame Ellis Shenberger, Monroe, collected cars for Boy Scout Pack 114 in Monroe and volunteers on the Pinewood Derby Committee. Her sixth-grade son, Joseph, has been in Boy Scouts since first grade and this was his fifth — and final — derby car because of his age. 

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Some of the cars that are off to Illinois to be raced for the virtual Pinewood Derby this year. The car on right, shaped like a pencil, was created by Ame Ellis Shenberger’s son, Joseph, who is participating in his fifth and final Pinewood Derby event for the scouts.

He’s taken some awards home in the past, for best design one year, she said.

Although learning that the event would be held virtually was originally a disappointment, that turned to excitement for Joseph when he realized there were some positives to having the event held virtually. 

“It’s a new way to learn and to do something that’s always been so traditional,” Ellis Shenberger said.

Her son’s car this year mimics a pencil, which developed during its creation, and has the Cub Scout motto: “Do your best” written on it. 

Some rules changed this year as well, and the council welcomed more age groups, any scout rank and even some who aren’t scouts to participate. Ellis Shenberger feels that allowing more people to get involved and the additional age groups is a positive thing.

“It’s a new way to reach out and it gives others the opportunity too,” she said.

Right now, there are nearly 400 cars ready to be raced on a six-lane track to make things go quickly. In a more typical year, that number reaches close to 1,000. 

A computer will figure numbers for the top four racers who will eventually hold a race off with each other. All cars compete for speed and design. 

Specific locations to leave cars were set before hand and they were then delivered to Illinois where the event will be held.

When finished, all cars will be returned to original creators.

Registration and all the rules can be found on the Blackhawk iHub page at link: Contact race Chairman, Andrew Myshkowec, with any questions at or 847-417-9875.