The pinewood derby is one of the most popular and successful family activities in Cub Scouting, according to Pack 61 assistant Cubmaster Lee Smith.

About 100 people attended the Jan. 23 pinewood derby races held by St. Francisville Cub Scout Pack 61 at Bains Elementary School.

Pinewood derby cars are small wooden models that Scouts make with help from their families. The cars are powered by gravity and run down an aluminum track toward an electronic finish line, Smith said, with every boy designing his own “grand prix” car to enter into the race.

“The pinewood derby is a time-honored tradition for Cub Scouts that dates back to 1953,” Smith said.

Pack 61’s race included 43 cars. “We wanted to make the event as fun as possible for the boys and their families, so we tried to create an environment that you might experience at a real race,” Smith said. “The environment becomes electric and loud when the races begin. It’s a wonderful time.”

Each Scout starts with a 7-inch wooden car that they design and craft with help from adult relative.

“The pinewood derby is a great family event. The boys get the opportunity to work with their dads, moms, grandparents or other adults in designing and building their own cars,” said Paul Theriot, Pack 61 committee chairman. “In addition to being such a fun event, the boys are learning life lessons as well as physical science concepts without ever realizing they’re learning.”

Theriot said each family that competes in a derby follows a set of simple, easy rules.

“The winners earn prizes, and every boy is recognized for taking part,” Theriot said.

Cub Scouts hold several types of derbies — the pinewood derby, raingutter regatta, space derby and Cubmobile derby.

Overall winners from Pack 61 were Dylan Corlew, first place; Tyler Rourke, second place; and Landon Rourke, third place.