Pinewood Derby race to honor late editor, son
by Jack Deming
Mar 21, 2013 | 3684 views | 1 1 comments | 26 26 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Johnny Lazelle shows off his Pinewood Derby race car.
Johnny Lazelle shows off his Pinewood Derby race car.
WILMINGTON- Members of Cub Scout Pack 461 and Boy Scout Troop 461 have been hard at work, chipping, sanding, and painting, and they’re not making birdhouses for looming springtime either. These Scouts and Cubs are building pinewood derby racers for the first Mary & Matthew Law Pack 461 Pinewood Derby, this Saturday at 9:30 am, at Deerfield Valley Elementary School.

Members of Pack 461 are divided into four dens, Wolfs, Bears, Tigers, and Webelows, and along with five members of the Boy Scout troop, a total of 25 boys are constructing their racers to compete on a 35-foot wooden track being built in the school gym.

“There hasn’t been a pinewood derby in a long time,” said John Lazelle, assistant den leader for the Bear and Wolf dens. “We’re excited to get this going again, because it’s been over 10 years. The kids are excited, and so is the general public, and even though we haven’t publicized much, we’re getting a lot of support.”

The event is held as a memorial to Mary Law and her 8-year-old son Matthew, who were killed in a car crash on Route 9 in Chesterfield, NH, on New Year’s Day 1987. Mary was editor of the Valley News at the time, and Matthew was a student at Deerfield Valley Elementary School. Both were active in the Cub Scout pack in the mid 1980s, and a trust was set up in their honor. Lazelle says the local Cub Scouts regularly benefit from that trust’s funds.

“We tried to think of a way to keep their names involved with the Cub Scouts, so we decided to put this together, and we hope it will continue for years to come.”

Three racers will compete at a time, each getting two runs. The racer with the fastest combined times will advance to the next round. Each den will have one winner, with an overall winner for the fastest car. There will also be a special category for siblings, classmates, and friends, as well as an adult competition.

Lazelle says he has seen a few racers being worked on and notes that the kids are putting a lot of work into them, including his own son, who is building a truck out of his block of pine. Each racer must meet certain specifications: a maximum width of 2 ¾ inches, a maximum length of 7 inches, a maximum weight not over 5 ounces, and a minimum width between the wheels of 1 3/4 inches. The minimum bottom clearance must also be 3/8 inch so the racer does not rub on the track guide.

Contact Lazelle at (802) 464-7487or by email at for more information or to obtain a derby car kit.
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Chris Donnelly
March 21, 2013

Great to hear about the Derby but it has been only four years since the last Derby. My son went onto the next competition in Windsor and won setting all the VT track records. Glad to see it back as it sure is a great time.

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