Man About Menifee: Time for Those Downhill Racers

By David Baker

If you stop 100 men on the street and ask them about their fondest or most memorable event from their childhood, you are bound to get a litany of answers.

Some played sports, while others played music. Some were popular and went to all the parties, while some of us... well ... some of us had an intricate knowledge of the Dewey Decimal System and spent a lot of time at the Card Catalog. (For the under 25 crowd, that was what we used before we had Google - for more info follow this link to watch a whimsical yet informative video).

Yet, there are some nearly universal experiences as well: Our first paycheck, the first time we drove a car or shaved with a real razor. One experience I was surprised to find was fairly common was the Pinewood Derby. It is such a universal experience that in 2005, they even made a Hollywood movie about it.

When Cub Scout Pack 374 began in the fall of 2010, one of the first things we did was a fundraiser in the community to raise money so we could go on trips, buy the awards we were going to earn, and have a Pinewood Derby. As we were selling fundraiser items outside of Albertson's, people would stop and talk to us. The moment we would mention the Derby, all men ages 25 to 95 would stop and stare off in the distance, get a goofy smile on their faces, and say, "The Pinewood Derby. I remember that."

A few seconds later, they would come back to the present, look at the boys and reach for their wallets. Many of them even said, "I don't want to buy anything, but here's a few bucks, kid. Have fun with the Derby." It was really touching.

Our first Pinewood Derby was in the Spring of 2011. We borrowed a three-lane track from a Pack in Hemet and held it at La Ladera Park. The boys had a blast, although I did over-do things with the racing schedule. I found a neat online tool and set it for maximum randomization, which meant each boy raced each of the other boys at least three times. That was a bit much for the parents.

The one we had the next year was a little better, but with more boys and the same small track we borrowed, it was still a little longer than most parents anticipated.

This year, a Scout Leader our Cubmaster Chris works with donated two only slightly used tracks -- one with three lanes and one with four -- that we are using. To top it off, our race is being sponsored by Gosch Auto Group and held at the Gosch Toyota Showroom in Hemet. It is turning into quite the event and I know the boys will have a blast.

So if you happen to be in the area next Saturday, March 23, between 3-6 p.m., come re-live some of those memories at 450 Carriage Circle in Hemet. There will be food, fun, and above all, fond memories for the next generation of men from Menifee.

David Baker, our Man About Menifee, writes about his adventures in and around town every Friday in this space. You may leave comments here for him or email him at


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