HomeNews and EventsThis Pinewood Derby is for car guy (and gal) adults

This Pinewood Derby is for car guy (and gal) adults

AACA Convention hosts its second gravity grand prix, and the entries were impressive


Back in 2020, the annual convention of the Antique Automobile Club of America included an inaugural pinewood derby race, staged as a fundraiser for the AACA Library.

The pandemic prevented staging a similar event in 2021, but it provided extra time for participants to prepare for the second Annual Convention Pinewood Derby, which was staged earlier this month in Philadelphia.

Matthew Hocker, AACA librarian, cataloger and volunteer coordinator, reports in the most recent AACA Speedster newsletter that nearly 40 cars participated, and they featured diverse styling, from a “slick Batmobile-esque racer to a carefully carved 1976 Oldsmobile Cutlass.”

“A few folks even entered cars from their childhood,” he added, “including one that was nearly 50 years old!”

The competition was reported to be “fierce” with Rick Holmes taking first place, with John Harvey’s car second and Dennis Christensen’s third.

There also were special awards, with commentary in italics by Hocker:

Most AACA – Walt Koz landed the award for most AACA with his ‘Koz-Mic’ racer. In addition to sporting slick livery for the Cape Canaveral Region, we were equally impressed with the vehicles styling. The overall shape of the vehicle, its color, and swooping curves are reminiscent of the Batmobile from Tim Burtons Batman films.

Best Overall – After holding our first derby, Meredith Jaffe expressed to us how pumped she was to enter our next event, and she said she was going to craft a replica of the Tucker; nothing prepared us for what she brought to the table. Every curve and angle of the Tucker has been faithfully captured, and the central headlight is cleverly represented by a crystal. A dentist by trade, Meredith utilized material used in making dental impressions to hold in place weights within the vehicle.

Most Creative – Like Meredith, Charlotte Dahlenburg was also inspired to build a car after our first derby. Charlotte worked on this purple hotrod with her father-in-law, and the project brought them closer together. The bodywork and painting alone are impressive, right down to the windows which are made to look like light is reflecting off them. However, what really made this car stand out is how Charlotte utilized her cake decorating expertise by crafting a special icing into the cars engine and radiator. Charlotte even used the icing for the fan behind the radiator, making her car one truly sweet ride!

Lemon of the Year – While Joseph Seyberts car won the Lemon of the Year in styling, it certainly was not a lemon in terms of performance. Joseph planned on doing a more elaborate design, but his time was extremely limited due to an unexpected conflict. Rather than throw in the towel, he made lemonade out of lemons by entering his unfinished car with weights for speed and a hilarious set of decals. He named the car Block Naked and brandished the phrase No time 2 get dressed” on the sides. We absolutely loved it!

Plans — and likely pinewood car creations — already are in motion for the next library derby race at the 2023 convention, scheduled for February 9-11 and a location yet to be announced.

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


  1. Actually, it’s origin is in the CUB SCOUTS, as part of the Boy Scouts of America. They supplied 4 wheels and a block of wood… YOU made it by YOURSELF (well… Dad helped!) and raced the other BOYS in your Pack. I guess it grew up, eh?

    • If you search “valve cover racing,” you’ll find stories we’ve done, but none in the last few years. But we agree, it looks like fun.


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