NORTH ANSON — It all got started in January with a kit containing four little wheels, four axles and a block of pine wood.

What emerged was a slick, miniature Pinewood Derby car complete with red and yellow flames painted on a black surface.

It’s very fast, said 8-year-old Trevor Russell, who is headed to the 2017 World Championship Pinewood Derby on Saturday in Times Square, in New York City.

He qualified in his division after winning the local Pinewood Derby competition in March and then the regional test in April in Oakland.

“I’m happy,” Trevor said. “I’m excited.”

Trevor worked with his foster parents, Gil and Caroline Prevost, at their home and studios in North Anson village, first carving and painting the 5-ounce race car, then tinkering with the wheels to achieve maximum speed. The project is sponsored by the Boy Scouts of America. Trevor entered through his local Cub Scout Pack 482 in North Anson.

He is competing in the Wolf Scout category with other boys about his age.

Competition in the World Championship Pinewood Derby is open to all 2017 Cub Scout Pinewood Derby finalists. Finalists are Cub Scouts who finished in either first, second or third place in their respective rank — Tiger, Wolf, Bear, Webelos I, Webelos II — within their local district or council championship race, according to the race website.

The competition “promotes sportsmanship, craftsmanship and competition,” according to the derby kit.

The shape and design of the derby car is up to the participants, Gil Prevost said. He said they used a coping saw to carve out the body of the car, which can be no longer than 7 inches in length and no wider than 2.75 inches.

“We carved the block of wood with a saw,” Trevor said, speaking through a fat lip he got during baseball practice.

Prevost said he began research on the Pinewood Derby on the internet and found a video on YouTube that said: “The Pinewood Derby is designed for the dads to teach their sons, so they could teach their sons.”

“It’s kind of like a father and son type of thing, but it’s usually the dads that do the large part of the work,” he said.

Trevor said he learned about friction and the role that resistance can have on potential speed. He demonstrated that theory using his hands to portray two pieces of cardboard facing in different directions.

Gil Prevost said the concept also illustrated aerodynamics: how the air affects solid objects moving through it, objects such as a derby car. He said they tipped the car’s wheels and bent the axles so that only three wheels actually touch the race surface, which is totally legal in their Prostock Division, he said.

“There’s a lot of physics involved,” he said. “We’re cutting down on friction. Riding on three wheels cuts down quite a bit of friction.”

Prevost said the weight and the balance of the car also is important to getting good speed and a winning entry.

Prevost, 67, said he and his father made Pinewood Derby cars when he was a kid growing up in Antioch, California. The derby itself was founded by Don Murphy, a Cub Scout master in 1953 in Manhattan Beach, California. Murphy wanted to create a new father and son activity he could do with his 10-year-old son who was too young to race in the Soap Box Derby, according to a history of the Pinewood Derby.

The family will travel to New York City on Friday for an early morning competition Saturday and a night in a hotel. Trevor said he isn’t nervous at all.

“I’m the one that’s nervous,” Gil Prevost said.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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