This past Saturday, I sent out the following Tweet:
As promised, the time has come, the moment of truth is finally here. Were we triumphant in our derby race debut? Or did we literally crash and burn? Did the newcomer tag team duo walk away empty handed and heavy hearted in a Tebowesque manner? Or perhaps we silenced the naysayers, crushed the competion and walked away with the gold! Given my history of luckluster performances in the home improvemnet department, I’m guessing you’ve already placed your bets and are ready to cash in on where this story is headed.
The past few weeks have been littered with Derby Car activities. Designing the car, cutting the car, sanding the car, painting the car, assembling the car. It’s been car car car, you can probably imagine my level of discomfort with all of these tasks. I’m fine and comfortable in my own skin being an unhandy handyman, but now the stakes were raised significantly higher; this time a little boy’s hopes and dreams were riding on my ability to lead him down the right path in the construction of his car. With each passing day Ty’s excite,Eng grew, he had his sights set high, he not only wanted a cool car, but he also wanted a winner. Both of which I knew deep in my heart were unattainable with me steering the reigns.
But as a Dad, all I could do was put my best foot forward and give it my all. So I relied on my education and college degree to give us a fighting chance. You may be thinking that I’m referring to my engineering background, but I’m not; unfortunately, I was too late to register for the Derby Car 101 class in college. Instead, I’m talking about my Googlenomics degree from G.U. I learned about aerodynamic design, weight balance, etc. Google gave me a tool deck necessary to at least show up to the competition with a fighting chance. Unfortunately Ty took that chance, crumbled it up, poured lighter fluid on it, fired up a match, and smiled as he lit our chance on fire and watched it go up in flames! He did this by being relentlessly tethered to his design idea. Irregardless of my lessons handed down to him by me, from Google themselves; he was unwavering in his design idea. That idea: a Indy car/pickup truck hybrid. WHAT??? Can you be any more aerodynamically challenged than that? I was crushed, I saw the little hope that we had snatched from me in the blink of an eye.
But hey, this was Ty’s thing, his competition, so if he wanted a Indy pickup hybrid, then so be it. I wasn’t about to be one of “Those Dads”, I refused. He could have his way, even if it meant throwing the race away. So we went to a woodshop and got his car cut out. I was a little disappointed because we didn’t get to do much. They cutting was handled by the woodshop pros, all Ty got to do was sand the car. In my limited (read: non-existent) derby car experience, I was under the impression that the only thing left for us to do was put the wheels on and paint it. I couldn’t have been more wrong; cutting the car out is only a small part of Derby Car construction, apparently wheel assembly and weight designation is where the big bang comes from.
I Ty was given another lease on life, even with his dysfunctional design, we may have a chance to actually compete!
So once again, I pulled out my Googlenomics degree and got us some info on good techniques. Ty and I worked feverishly together to pull everything together. It was actually really fun teaching him about polishing axles and lubricating wheels. By the end of the night, we had a car that I thought would not only finish the race but even have a chance of beating a car or two.
Then race day came and all of that confidence came crashing down. I took one look at the competition and knew we were in for trouble. A second look at the extremely LONG track and trouble was an understatement. At that point the best that I could hope for was for our car to make it all the way down the track. I also ran into a few of “Those Dads” that I mentioned earlier. It was quite sad, one Dad even scolded his son for requesting to hold HIS car. After that, my outlook took a completely different view. It didn’t matter if Ty’s car had all its wheels fall off, the fact that we built it together and he was in charge of the direction construction took was enough to make me all warm and fuzzy inside.
Well race time was upon us and we all waited patiently for Ty’s car to make its way to the track. Finally it was his turn and I prayed that his car made it to the finish line. The look on the other kids faces when their cars didn’t finish was almost unbearable. The whistle blew, the pins dropped and the cars were on their way. Much to my surprise, Ty’s car was actually competing, keeping up with the other cars while going down the slop. Then the cars hit the straight away and that’s when it happened. That’s when I noticed Ty’s car take a commanding lead, decimating the competition by an entire second!!! I couldn’t believe it, our car took freaking 1st place in the first race. We were so excited! The 2nd and 3rd races yielded 2nd place results. I was totally stunned, we were doing way better than I had anticipated. Then the last race came and we pulled off another first place win. This was unbelievable, our car did excellent and might even win a medal for 2nd place in our Den. Ty was pumped and so was I as we quietly awaited the final results.
The results were in and Den #9 winners were being announced. Ty’s name wasn’t called for 3rd place, he looked disappointed. I knew he had 2nd place on lock, so I wasn’t worried. Ty’s name wasn’t called for 2nd place, now I looked disappointed; we had come so far and competed so hard to walk away empty handed. That’s when 1st place was announced and Ty’s name was heard crystal clear. It was amazing, we took first place in our Den, more than either of us imagined. But that wasn’t the end of it, the Pack (50 cars in total) were about to be announced. Coming in 5th place, a 2 way tie, and one of those cars belonged to Ty. WHHHHAAAATTTT, we took 5th place, 5th freaking place? That means we get a trophy, a freaking trophy!!! Ty and I took his design from the little car who could and turned it into the little car that did!
I think I took the win more personal than Ty did, I may be the first person in history to “pop bottles” in celebration of a derby car victory.