Montana Holds 24th Annual Pinewood Derby

March 08, 2020 | Youth | Hugo Mendez

Pathfinder and Adventurer clubs from throughout Montana traveled to Missoula and met at the Mountain View Elementary gym on Sunday morning, Jan. 26, 2020, for the 24th annual Montana Conference Pinewood Derby. Arriving as early as 8 a.m. to register, weigh and fine-tune their race cars, they were blessed by the devotional and prayer offered by Dusty Clark Von Riese from the Kalispell Church. At 10 a.m., the lights were turned down and the races began.

The Pinewood Derby, which is sponsored by the Montana Conference, has become one of the largest events of the year for Montana’s youth. This year’s event was attended by more than 130 people who watched the 60 young racers compete in two age categories: ages 10 to 16 in the Pathfinder division and ages 0 to 9 in the Adventurers division.

Each contestant participated in 14 rounds of racing against three other racers and earned points according to the order of finish for each round. The results saw Abigail Lefebvre win first place in the Adventurer division and Jim Hanson take first place for Pathfinders. Awards were also presented in each division for outstanding craftsmanship, paint finish, originality and paint design.

The event would not have been possible without the dedicated help of many volunteers. Some volunteers have served at every derby, including Larry Williams, race steward, from Missoula; Janice Hanson, grand marshall, and Greg Hanson, scorer, both from Plains; Roy Steingas, starter; and Mark Crider, A-V engineer of Missoula. Tony Lloyd and KaDene Evans served as announcers, keeping the spectators informed and the participants organized. Many more volunteers helped with various other duties and registration, including five students from Mount Ellis Academy in Bozeman. The pit crew worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make sure every car ran smoothly throughout the day.

When asked about the requirements to enter the Derby, Larry Williams replied “Any kid who walks in with a car and a smiling face can enter the race.” There are no registration fees.

Twenty-four years ago during the first derby, a young girl, Sarey (Beard) Robinson, was one of the winners. This year, Robinson was able to sit in the grandstand and enjoy watching as her two children, Sunny (seventh grader) and Sianna (fourth grader) competed as part of the Mission Mountain Timberwolves Pathfinder club in Ronan, perhaps the first ever second-generation Montana Conference Pinewood Derby contestants.

After all the fun for participants and fans, many are eagerly looking forward to the 25th annual Pinewood Derby, tentatively scheduled for Jan. 31, 2021.