The Pinewood Derby Race Car

8 Nov

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites



DiVoran and I transferred from Los Angeles, California to Titusville, Florida in 1965, for me to work on the Apollo Moon Landing Program.  At the time, our daughter was three and our son was 18 months old.  We bought our first new house, and spent months furnishing it the best we could (Can you imagine, our lot had no grass and no trees when we bought that first new house),    DiVoran went to work as a hair stylist for a while, and we made some wonderful friends at the local church we joined.


                 The house was gray with no grass or trees when we bought it!


We stayed really busy the first few years, and the stress of the jobs was getting to us.  Friends of ours suggested we join their square-dance club, to help relieve some of the tensions of our daily lives.  Not being much of a dancer, I couldn’t see how hours of high-stepping square-dancing would relieve my tensions.  But I learned that it was really great therapy, and we liked it.  We had some wonderful times dancing with the Titusville Twirlaways square-dance club, at local and state-wide dances over the years.



When our son, Billy, was seven we enrolled him in the local Cub Scout Pack 370 and I became a volunteer Scout Leader.  The Boy Scouts of America program is a great learning and character developmentexperience for young boys, and I enjoyed helping as a leader.  We had lots of skill and development projects, and Billy and I worked together on most of them.



One of our favorite projects was a Pinewood Derby race car.  This involved taking a block of hard-wood, and hand fashioning it (with lots of elbow grease and sandpaper) into a race car.  As I remember it, the Cub Scouts were given a certain amount of time to finish their car and have it ready for racing.  There were certain rules they had to follow, so there would be no cheating. When race day came, we made a day of it and all the parents were cheering for their son’s car to win, as they raced down an inclined track.  After the race, there was a covered dish meal and a good time was had by all.



When Billy was 10, he graduated into the next age group of the Boy Scouts, which was Webelos.  I worked with him to earn the many merit badges he needed to move up each step in the Scouting program.  Funny thing, while I was working with Billy on his merit badges, DiVoran and I were working on collecting our square-dancing badges for various classes and trips we took to dances around the state.



One of the most fun projects I worked on with Billy, while he was in Webelos, was the building and flying of model rockets.  As an engineer, I was challenged to build rockets that would look the best and fly the highest.  Billy got caught up with the challenge, and actually designed his own model rocket from scratch.  The first flight didn’t go too well, but with just one small modification, it flew great. We bought several kits, and spent many hours putting them together and painting them.  Then we had loads of fun flying them at the local school yard.


That’s Billy’s original design on the far left


As a side note, you might be interested to know that those model rockets Billy and I built, when he was in Webelos, have survived to this day.  And Billy’s son, Jacob, enjoyed flying them (when he was younger) at the same school yard, all these many years later.  To me, it’s a testimony to the shared love, respect, learning ability, and character development, to see generation after generation succeed in life with the help of organizations like the Boy Scouts of America.


—–The End—–


Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 61 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.




One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

One Response to “The Pinewood Derby Race Car”

  1. Timelesslady November 9, 2018 at 1:39 pm #

    My husband and I have two sons, both grown now, with children of their own. We loved Pinewood Derby time, where we live, it was usually held mid-winter when not much else was going on. Oh how they worked on those cars. Each one had a name. A few took honorable mention, third prize, but The Missile…that one flew and took first prize.


Thank you for stopping by and reading our posts. Your comments are welcomed.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: