Need for speed: P’Slope Cub Scout named second-fastest NYC racer at world pinewood derby championship

Brooklyn Paper
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This kid’s going places — fast.

A Park Slope Cub Scout bested dozens of would-be champs to win the title of second-fastest racer in New York City at the World Championship Pinewood Derby on June 24, and while the speedster is only 9-years-old, his success was all about experience, according to his one-man pit crew.

“This was our fourth year doing it together and each year we were able to add a little more speed to the car,” said Alan Redfern, the grandfather of Nory Pena, a Webelos-rank scout.

This was the first time that Pena, whose Troop 412 is based out of St. Savior Catholic Academy on Eighth Avenue, qualified for the world championship race — which has been held since 2015 and, despite its title, did not include any international competitors this year.

The scout achieved an average scale speed — a measure of how fast his seven-inch car would be moving were it full-size — of 226.12 miles-per-hour over eight trials to earn his second-place prize.

Pena and his grandpa, a craftsman and woodworker, work together to create the scout’s wooden race car each year. They begin the process by drafting designs at Christmastime before moving on to construct the vehicle over Pena’s February school break and finish with fine-tuning in the days before the competition.

The annual project is a way for the duo — who are separated by the 350-plus miles between Brooklyn and Rochester, NY, where Redfern lives — to stay close despite the distance between them, according to the scout’s mother.

“This has been their main connector,” said Allison Sands.

And while Redfern took the reigns when it came to whittling wooden blocks into Pena’s derby racers in the past, the elder said that nowadays the student is the master when it comes to car construction.

“For the first few years I did a lot of the power tool work, but, as he’s gotten older, he does more and more of the work and I’m just there as an extra set of hands,” Redfern said.

Pena, who received a massive trophy for his second–place win, said that the only person more thrilled than he was to hear his name announced among the winners’ was his grandfather.

“My mom got so excited and I was, too,” said Pena. “But my grandpa was probably the most excited.”

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Updated 5:57 pm, July 9, 2018
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