Worcester, Massachusetts—And they’re off! Click-clank-crash! were the sounds heard as homemade cars sped down the racetrack. As we know, 2020 was the year of doing things differently. Instead of canceling this annual event due to gathering restrictions, the race organizers decided to take the New England Pinewood Derby online, with invitations extended to other congregations to join in the fun. This way the joy of the annual event could be shared with anyone who wanted to participate.
People of all ages built their model cars and shipped them to New England to be raced. A total of 57 cars were received by the race organizers from all over the United States, including California, Massachusetts, Oregon, Wisconsin and other states. One car even made the journey from El Salvador!
On the day of the race, more than 200 spectators watched live online as the cars raced down the 36-foot-long track four at a time, waiting to see who would be the victor. Three announcers listed the cars being raced each round, their speed and which cars placed. Results were visually confirmed by those watching at home thanks to instant replays.
For more than three hours, the small crew of 10 people kept the races going with occasional commercial breaks featuring content from the contestants, including videos and picture slideshows of participants and their cars. Other breaks from the race included live interviews with the Rangel family and the VanAusdle family and a step-by-step instructional tutorial of how to make a Pinewood Derby car by the pastor of the New England congregations, Andy Diemer.
The first part of the race finished with 18 cars moving to the next round. The semi-final round ended with four cars moving to the finals. The winners of the 2020 New England Pinewood Derby were as follows: in third place Dan Preston “the faster pastor,” in second place Elizabeth and in first place Malachi. The audience also used a separate website to vote for the cars they felt were Best in Show, Most Fun, Most Sporty and Most Colorful. Plans for the 2021 Pinewood Derby race are already underway.