I'm the Cubmaster for Cub Scout Pack 710 - been doing it for 2 years now and will likely do it for one more until Jacob moves on to Boy Scouts. My favorite event each year is the pinewood derby.
This year we held a workshop at Sherwood High School, hosted by the most excellent technical education teacher John Neibergall. The high school has an outstanding shop for woodworking, metal work, and computer-aided design. John is very involved with scouts in the area and had some Boy Scouts from a local troop there to help coach the Cubs.
John makes some cuts for Nick, Jacob, and Matthew at the wood shop.
One of my goals in running the derby is to keep it somewhat competitive but to allow the kids to race as much as possible. We impound the cars after final weigh-in and assign each car a unique number. I use the outstanding spreadsheet from Chris Sutton to divide the kids into groups and automatically generate heats. This allows each car to race 5 or 6 times across different lanes to help neutralize any lane advantages.
The freshly painted track setup in front of the PA and projection system.
I project the spreadsheet for all to see and we keep the action going non-stop. One challenge in previous years was judging placement in each race. I would assign four adults to watch the finish line, each one assigned to a lane. This was problematic at times, especially when we had photo finishes. This year we decided to purchase a Microwizard K2 LED timer and it worked like a charm. It has a tolerance down to 1/1000 of a second and we still had a tie during one of our races.
Our shiny new timer.