Brick Vault to host community Pinewood Derby races this weekend

MARATHON — Brick Vault Brewery and Barbecue is inviting folks far and wide to come out on Saturday for a Pinewood Derby race on the patio. Participants who still need to register can do so on race day, which will start around noon. The festivities will continue until around 4 p.m., and will cap off with a “no holds barred” race to showcase the most creative non-regulation vehicles. 

The event is the brainchild of head brewer Amy Oxenham, who became interested in the event as a child with family members in Boy Scouts. The Pinewood Derby originally debuted as a Cub Scout event in the 1950s for Scouts too young to compete in traditional soapbox car races. Contestants carve their own vehicles from a small block of wood from a regulation kit and race the cars on a sloped track. 

Marathon’s version of the Pinewood Derby is open to people of all ages and genders, and is intended as a way for the community to get creative. So far, about 40 people have registered for the event. “It’s completely crossing all age boundaries,” Oxenham said. “We’ve had young and older folks working on cars together. Some older folks are racing cars that they have from 20 and 30 years ago.” 

The prizes include gift certificates to Brick Vault, a trophy, and a mushroom growing kit courtesy of Big Bend Fungi’s master mycologist, Cody McCollum. In an effort to make the event family-friendly, McCollum and Oxenham brainstormed ways to make the prizes more creative. “We were trying to figure out good prizes for kids, because we can’t just give them beer,” Oxenham explained. 

About 20 folks registered for the event in June, when Oxenham hosted a workshop that distributed Derby kits and some tricks of the trade. “There were a bunch of families that came in and we did some test runs with a car that we had made,” she explained. “I wanted to be able to give them all of the insight I had gleaned from the research that I had been doing into pine car physics, of the advantages of adjusting certain parameters and how those parameters pay off.” 

Oxenham is hoping to make Marathon’s derby a yearly event — something that the community can rally around. She’s been bowled over so far by local support for the project. “I’ve been a longtime Big Bend resident, but doing this has shown me the level of community we have,” she said. “When we first started advertising it we had a bunch of people come forward wanting to sponsor cars, we had people who came in on the workshop night and bought everybody’s registration fee and car fee.” 

“It’s just gonna be an all around good vibe,” she continued. “Some of the best hearts in the community are participating and supporting the event.” 

The races will be held Saturday, July 16, on the patio at Brick Vault Brewing, 102 W 1st Street in Marathon. Registration starts at noon and the event will continue until around 4 p.m.