We don't really know if Donald Murphy realized what a great idea he had hit upon in 1953.
Murphy was the Cubmaster of Cub Pack 280C in Manhattan Beach, Calif., and was looking for a wholesome, constructive activity that would foster a closer father-son relationship and promote craftsmanship and good sportsmanship through competition.
The idea he came up with became a reality on May 15, 1953, when 55 Cub Scouts participated in the first Pinewood Derby.
Murphy's concept has grown to now include more than 1 million Scouts and their parents each year. Included in those participants are the members of Two Chiefs District, who will hold their annual Pinewood Derby Saturday at the Fort Steuben Mall.
Action will run from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. today when adult volunteers and Boy Scouts run races to test the track. The real competition will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday, when Cub Scouts in first through fifth grades put their creations on the track.
Each car faces a series of inspections for length, width, height clearance and weight that would rival tech inspections conducted before any NASCAR, IRL or Formula One race. If the cars don't measure up, they are sent for modifications before undergoing the process again.
Cars that will compete Saturday are engineering and artistic marvels. The shapes will differ dramatically, but the designer of each car will have taken aerodynamics and other engineering concepts into account.
The paint schemes and decals, meanwhile, will offer a glimpse into the personality of the person who has built each car.
Behind all of the engineering, woodworking skills and artistic expression, however, will be what the derby is all about - it's the chance for a boy to enjoy quality time and receive help and guidance from a caring adult. Those are lessons that will always be remembered.
More than 200 participants are expected for Saturday's event. They will come from all parts of our area, from New Manchester and Weirton, from Steubenville and Martins Ferry, from Cadiz and Flushing.
At the end of the day, six winners will be determined, and trophies, gift certificates and ribbons will be presented. That's an important part of the competition.
Even more important, though, will be the activities that will have led up to Saturday's events, from the carving of a block of wood into a car to the time spent with a caring adult, the Pinewood Derby remains an activity that teaches Cub Scouts skills they will be able to use all of their lives.