Boys’ Life magazine’s article about the Pinewood derby, published in October 1954 (Click to enlarge).
Fifty-five years have passed since Don Murphy, then Cubmaster of Pack 280C in Manhattan Beach, Calif., created an alternative to the Soap Box Derby for his young Scouts.
Murphy passed away this month at the age of 90, but his invention — the Pinewood Derby — lives on.
In 1953, the full-size Soap Box Derby was wildly popular with young people. Unfortunately, Murphy’s Cub Scouts were too young to participate. His idea of carving wooden blocks into smaller racing cars became a hit.
The first Pinewood Derby race was held at the Manhattan Beach Scout House that year, and word of the event quickly spread around the Los Angeles area, the country and eventually the world. More than 90 million Pinewood Derby car kits have been sold since.
Murphy’s favorite thing about the Derby was giving fathers and sons a chance to spend time together working on a project.