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April 8, 2014

Indiana State Museum holds Pinewood Derby

Blue III, better known as Trip; Indianapolis Indians Mascot Rowdie; the Easter Bunny; and staff from Indianapolis’ newest hockey team, Indy Fuel, raced their cars at Pinewood Derby last week at the Indiana State Museum.

Trip, who has taken over as Butler’s live mascot, and the others raced their pinewood cars on the tallest, longest and fastest pinewood derby track in Indianapolis. The four-lane, 125-foot Pinewood Derby track spans two stories.

The Pinewood Derby originated as a Boy Scout event and after the Indiana State Museum started working with the Boy Scouts of America, specifically the Crossroads of America Council, they ramped the competition up.

“Seven years ago the museum held an exhibition called the ‘Science of Speed’ and we thought it would be great to work on a pinewood derby,” Manager of public programs and the museum’s scout liaison Carrie Miller said. “From there, it grew to two stories and 125 feet. We sought out the council on how to do this, and from there it became a collaboration with the rules and regulations for race day and they help us facilitate it as far as inspection and judges.”

Ryan Keys, council activities director for the Crossroads of America Council, said the museum originally wanted to try for the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest track.

“We went through the process and a month before the event they said it’s not an international event, so they couldn’t judge it,” he said. “But we have this marvelous track with all kinds of celebrity racers … we had 600 people last year. It’s fun for all people, and it’s great for STEM (science, technology, engineering, math)-related activities … and that’s the kind of things kids need to learn.”

The museum is open for racing five days a week for fun runs and on Saturday the championship race takes place. For the fun runs, there is no inspection, no judging of the cars; visitors just come and race their cars down the track and have a good time. The museum even provides racers with a car if they don’t already have one.

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