JESSICA HORTON Staff Writer

The smell of fresh popcorn and cheers from the boys and their parents filled the air at Chamberlin Elementary School cafeteria Sunday afternoon as the first pinebox cars raced down the track. By the time the races were over, even the biggest skeptic was smiling and cheering.

The leaders of every Boy Scout Troop showed the boys how to build a pinebox car within regulation. The cars were painted to represent many different things from cars with Texas A&M, Texas Longhorns, and the Dallas Cowboys, to cars that looked like crocodiles, campsites, and candy. There was even a pinebox car that looked like a cell phone, and others that looked like the Texas and American flags. They were judged on creativity before the races began. Children were given awards for most creative and most patriotic, among others. Then the pinebox cars were weighed and measured to ensure that everyone stayed within the regulated weight.

Every pinebox car got at least three runs during the individual heats that were divided into groups based on what troop the boys were in. There were five heats that consisted of the Tigers, Wolves, Bears, Web I, and Web II. Two racers would zip down the track at a time amid shouts and cheers from the onlookers that pressed in on both sides. If a car lost three times it was out, and the winners went on to the overall finals.

At the end of the track, the troop leaders actually had an electronic eye that helped them determine the winners, and it was a good thing because several times the races were just too close to be called by the naked eye.

Between the Web II heats and the final heats, the leaders of the troops raced pinebox cars that they had built, and there was quite a bit of competition between a few of the troop leaders. One leader even had the officials rerun a race.

During the troop leadersí races, it was also announced that the NorEastern Regional Pinebox Derby would be held in Stephenville on Feb. 25 at the Recreation Center. The 1st - 4th place winners in each of the age groups at the NorEastern Regional Derby will get to go on to Abilene to compete against the best pinebox racers in the area.

When the dust from the finals had cleared, Andy Heflinís taco shaped car had come in first, with Cody Johnson in second and Andre Taeuber in third place.