2 F’ville Cub Scouts race NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon

Jeff Gordon watches with a group of excited Cub Scouts Friday as their Pinewood Derby cars race down the track at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. Front row, from left: Adam Knell, Sam Esterline, Christian Bostic, Brandon Oenick. Back row from left: Caleb Moss, Will Harper, Jared Oenick, Kristopher Assing, Alex Pecoraro. Photo/Special.

In Pinewood Derby cars, that is.

For most Cub Scouts, the closest thing to experiencing the thrill of NASCAR short of attending a race is the chance to build and race their own Pinewood Derby cars in one of scouting’s most time-honored traditions. This weekend, as NASCAR visits Atlanta Motor Speedway, one lucky group of Atlanta-area Cub Scouts had the opportunity to do both.

Friday, March 5, as part of Atlanta Motor Speedway’s annual Scout Day at the Races, eight Cub Scouts from the Boy Scouts of America’s Flint River Council met, talked shop, and raced their Pinewood Derby cars with four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon.

Gordon last year received scouting’s prestigious Silver Buffalo Award in recognition of his contributions to a national scout recruitment program and his personal humanitarian efforts. Gordon’s meeting with the Cub Scouts is scheduled to be aired as part of Fox Sports prerace coverage of the Kobalt Tools 500, beginning at 12 p.m. ET on Sunday, March 7.

“It was a lot of fun for me to spend time with the scouts and see how much energy and creativity they’ve put into building their race cars,” Gordon said. “I appreciate the work that scouting does to create good citizens and future leaders. I salute the BSA as it begins its next century of service.”

On Saturday and Sunday, prior to the Camping World Truck Series and Sprint Cup Series races, Boy Scouts will present the colors during prerace flag-raising ceremonies. Any scout in uniform will be admitted free to Saturday’s events.

“Scouting and NASCAR, at their very heart, are about bringing families together and having fun. Many of our fans first attended a race as scouts, and now they bring their children to the races,” said Ed Clark, president and general manager of Atlanta Motor Speedway. “I was a scout and am currently a scouting volunteer. This organization has had a profound influence on my life.”

The eight Cub Scouts who met with Gordon are:

• Kristopher Assing, 7, is a first-grader from Stockbridge, Ga. In addition to scouting, he is active in soccer, basketball, and kung fu. He was second in speed at his Pinewood Derby.

• Christian Bostic, 6, is a first-grader from Griffin, Ga. Christian was a scout before he even joined, tagging along on his brother’s camping trips. He got his first tent for Christmas.

• Samuel Esterline, 9, is a fourth-grader from Fayetteville, Ga. Samuel’s car, which he designed and built himself, won overall best design and was second place in speed. A huge NASCAR fan, Samuel modeled his car after Gordon s No. 24 car.

• Will Harper, 8, is a second-grader from Newnan, Ga. His grandfather, who built his own Pinewood Derby car 30 years ago, helped Will build a car that won first in speed.

• Adam Knell, 9, is a fourth-grader from McDonough, Ga., who loves playing soccer. Adam is happy his mom, Army Lt. Col. Niave Knell, got to watch him race his Pinewood Derby car the day before she was deployed to Iraq.

• Caleb Moss, 9, is a fourth-grader from McDonough, Ga. He loves Boy Scouts, basketball, karate, and racing. He is a reading buddy, helping first-graders at his school learn to read.

• Jared Oenick, 11, is a fifth-grader from Newnan, Ga. Jared had a kidney transplant two-and-a-half years ago. Two years ago, he lost his mother to cancer. In spite of these challenges, Jared was a top-50 math student in the state last year. He took first at his Pinewood Derby.

• Alex Pecoraro, 9, is a fourth-grader from Fayetteville, Ga. Alex was in foster care from age 2 until he was adopted by the Pecoraro family at age 7. He plans to follow in the footsteps of his two older brothers and become an Eagle Scout.

“Over the decades, the Pinewood Derby has become a rite of passage for young scouts all across the country,” said Chuck Brasfeild, Scout executive of the Flint River Council. “Sharing the experience with a legendary race car driver like Jeff Gordon is a dream come true for these kids and exciting for Scouts around the country.”

March 6 also marks the nationwide start of the BSA’s Race to 2010, part of the BSA’s 100th Anniversary geocaching program. Pinewood Derby cars representing every BSA council in the country will race across America through the high-tech treasure-hunting game.

As the cars move from cache to cache, Scouts and Scouters can track their cars progress online as they head toward the finish line: the 2010 National Scout Jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia. The cars that travel the farthest and pass through the most hands will receive prizes, including memorabilia signed by Gordon.

Geocaching is just one of the ways the BSA is extending the celebration far beyond a day on the calendar. In all, eight major national 100th Anniversary engagement programs have been designed to reintroduce scouting to the next generation of young leaders and reconnect millions of alumni with the organization.

Since the Pinewood Derby’s inception in 1953, it has grown to become the most popular activity in the Cub Scout program. Over the years, Cub Scouts have built close to 100 million Pinewood Derby racers. If every Pinewood Derby car made in one year took one run down the track, the combined distance would be to the moon and back.

pcreinke
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Pinewood Derby

The Pinewood Derby was one of the highpoints of my scouting experience...both as a scout and the parent of a scout and the experience continues well beyond our official psrticipation.

To give back, for what I received from that experience…I wrote and just released a book about the Derby called "Pinewood-Winning by the Rules" ISBN 978-1-60911-153-3. It shows that the “BIG race” can be won by sticking to the rules…Isn’t that what scouting is all about?

My son was district champ for 3 years in a row and he did that by following every rule and doing his best. It is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Borders websites…also through my website www.PinnacleCarRacing.com

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