Pinewood Derby takes veterans back in time – a time to be a kid for a day

IVINS —  Veterans, families, staff and friends were taken back in time Saturday to relive the excitement of a Pinewood Derby race at the Southern Utah Veterans Home in Ivins.

Family members participated in Veterans and their families participated in the Pinewood Derby Extravaganza held at the Southern Utah Veterans Home, Ivins, Utah, April 30, 2016|Photo by Austin Peck, St. George News
Veterans and their family members participated in the Pinewood Derby Extravaganza held at the Southern Utah Veterans Home, Ivins, Utah, April 30, 2016|Photo by Austin Peck, St. George News

Participants raced 35 cars built by the staff and residents down a custom built track and completed the race at a digital finish line, installed to ensure accurate results.

It was the 3rd annual Pinewood Derby Extravaganza at the Southern Utah Veterans Home, and this race was serious.

Boy Scouts from Troop 0509 were on hand to present the colors, lead the flag salute and shuttle the cars back and forth from the display table to the track for the races.

The event originally was planned as a way to take the veterans back to a time when they were involved in scouting as fathers or grandfathers and were making their own cars to race, Vielane Van Noy, director of community relations and recreation, said.

The race was such a success the first year that it has continued to be an annual event. While it has evolved and changed since it premiered in 2014, its popularity and participation remains significant, she said.

Race winners presented trophies and certificates at the Pinewood Derby Extravaganza, Southern Utah Veterans Home, Ivins, Utah, April 30, 2016|Photo by Austin Peck, St. George News
Race winners were presented trophies and certificates at the Pinewood Derby Extravaganza, Southern Utah Veterans Home, Ivins, Utah, April 30, 2016|Photo by Austin Peck, St. George News

The derby cars were delivered and donated by Kent Cook, owner of Cars by Kent, a man passionate about building derby cars since he built his first one in 1984 with the help of a friend. That car took first place, and from there Cook would spend the next 30 years perfecting his craft. Building derby cars with his four sons afforded many opportunities to learn the tricks of the trade, he said.

“Several residents still had their derby cars from last year,” Cook said. “So I delivered 64 of them, but only about 35 were needed.”

Cook became involved in the event after receiving a call from Van Noy several years ago, he said. Once he started, he was hooked, and has been building derby cars for the race ever since.

Handcrafted cars donated by Kent Cook and painted by residents and family members entered the Pinewood Derby Extravaganza held at the Southern Utah Veterans Home, Ivins, Utah, April 30, 2016|Photo by Austin Peck, St. George News
Handcrafted cars donated by Kent Cook and painted by residents and family members were entered in the Pinewood Derby Extravaganza held at the Southern Utah Veterans Home, Ivins, Utah, April 30, 2016|Photo by Austin Peck, St. George News

“Building these cars for the veterans is something I enjoy,” Cook said.

The derby cars arrive pre-cut and weighted, and are ready to be painted after sanding. From there the wheels and axles are attached and fixed to the cars with the help of Boy Scout Troop 0509, whose members assisted the participants prior to the race, Van Noy said.

The Pinewood Derby is more than watching colorful wooden cars racing down a track, it is a way to bring people together.  The families of both the residents and staff attended and participated in the day’s festivities. This year the race was open to the public, which extended that involvement out into the community.

“The race is a way to get everyone together,” Van Noy said. “The staff, residents and all of their families.”

The Pinewood Derby Race finds its origins in 1953, when Don Murphy, Cub Master for Pack 280C, began developing the concept as an activity he could participate in with his 10-year-old son. The first track – a two lane, 31-foot race track, complete with a battery powered finish gate – set the stage for derby racing for the next 63 years.

About the Southern Utah Veterans Home

The Southern Utah Veterans Home provides accommodation and long-term care to veterans and their spouses. Located at 160 N. 200 East, Ivins, Utah, the organization’s mission statement says: “We are a community providing quality of life and quality of care with dignity and honor to Veterans and families.”

Austin Peck, with St. George News, contributed to this story.

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.

Email: cblowers@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!

Posted in Events, Life, Local, NewsTagged , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply