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Event Recap | Warped Wing Trotwood Derby

Event Recap | Warped Wing Trotwood Derby

One of the highlights of each year when I was between the ages of 10 and 12 was the annual AWANA Pinewood Derby (AWANA was like Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts for church kids—I had a weird childhood). I would give my dad an impossible car design on paper, he would do an impressive job of cutting that design from a three dimensional block of wood, and then on a Saturday morning in February—car in hand and hopes high—we would head to the track to get our asses squarely kicked. We never won anything and never came close, but it was a lot of fun.

Warped Wing Brewing Company in Dayton, Ohio, announced a few months ago they would be hosting the first annual Trotwood Derby, a pinewood derby for grown-ups themed around their nostalgic Trotwood Lager, and I immediately began designing my car. Those derbies long ago taught me artistic precision doesn’t really run in the Nilsen veins, so I decided to plan for speed. My daughter and I managed to finish sixth for speed out of 76 cars at her Girl Scout Derby a couple years back, so I thought I had a decent chance. I watched nerdy Youtube videos about Pinewood design strategies and built the fastest chunk of wheeled wood I could manage. I cut out elements of the Trotwood Lager can, slapped them on the car, and prepared for race day.

After a weigh-in session on Friday, July 28, racers met at the brewery taproom Sunday, July 30, at noon to see how our cars would do. Car designs ran the gamut from purpose-built speedsters to show-minded flights of fancy. Two of the latter—the Happy Camper and the Trotwood Roller, submitted by an equally whimsically bedecked couple—did not successfully make it down the track, but they were the only cars to actually be made from Trotwood Lager cans. Clever car names like Kenny Lager and Flyin’ Rye (named after one of Warped Wing’s flagship brews) abounded. My own car name? Trotsky.

Warped Wing brewmaster John Haggerty prepares cars for a race. On the far left is Tyler Homan’s Kenny Lager, the eventual overall winner. The author’s car Trotsky is on the far right. Photo courtesy of David Nilsen.

In all, twenty-one cars showed up to race. Four rounds of races yielded average elapsed times for each car, and at the end of those four rounds, the top four cars advanced to a winner-take-all grudge match. Trotsky won several heats, but ultimately finished fifth (one spot outside the final race) with an average time of 2.507 seconds.

After the results were in, prizes were given out for first, second, and third place in speed, and design prizes were awarded for Funkiest Design and Best Use of Theme. Every racer received a Trotwood Lager pint glass. Trotsky didn’t win anything, but the afternoon was fun, and my wife and I sat at Warped Wing’s large open bay door overlooking downtown (the best seat in the city, I swear) sipping “Trotty” and Liquid Picnic, Warped Wing’s excellent new pale ale brewed with saison yeast. As I drained my beer, I was already thinking about my design for next year. My best idea? Convince my ten-year-old daughter to enter with me so we can design two cars instead of one!

Two of the more whimsical car designs. Photo courtesy of David Nilsen.

Warped Wing’s Trotwood Derby 2017 results

1st – Tyler Homan – Kenny Lager
2nd – Drew Hogenkamp – Big Donut
3rd – Thomas Cope – Greenie Wheenie

Funkiest Design Award
Troy Ketchen – 1.21 Gigawatts

Best Use of Theme Award
Brent Beck – Warped

The derby wouldn’t have been complete without a pint of Trotwood Lager. Photo courtesy of David Nilsen.

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