eCON District Pushmobile Race
Imagine a car like a pinewood derby car, only bigger. You can sit in it, steer it, and stop it with a brake. You and a friend can take turns pushing and piloting your car down the street or across the finish line. You can even coast it down a hill if there’s one around. It’s called a pushmobile. Its creation predates Cub Scouts but the racing tradition is carried on to this day in units across the nation.
The boy inventor of pushmobiles is unknown but was most likely inspired by seeing his first automobile race. Soon other boys copied his idea and they gathered to race each other in the street. He probably had no idea pushmobiles would soon become a nationwide craze. Clubs began to form and on November 17th, 1906 the first recorded pushmobile race took place in Flushing, Long Island. The Murray Hill Pushmobile Club called the race the Vanderbilt Race Cup. It was named after William K. Vanderbilt who donated ten dollars for the silver winner’s cup. The race was four and three quarter miles long. This was ten times around the town square. Harry Brown and Austin Lawrence shot across the finish line to win the race with a time of 27 minutes and 12 seconds. A hen, a cat, and a dog were injured during the race but that didn’t stop the club from holding the event the following year.
Many towns began having pushmobile races and the winners became celebrities. As the popularity of these races grew mayors, reporters, marching bands, and thousands of spectators could be found on race day. Pushmobile plans appeared in magazines like Popular Mechanics and even Boys Life helping spread the frenzy. Hundreds of Packs, Troops, Districts, and Councils carry on the tradition holding an annual Pushmobile Derby to this day where it remains the most popular event of the year.
The pushmobile also gave birth to the All-American Soap Box Derby. Myron E. Scott, a photographer for the Dayton Daily, saw three boys racing each other down a hillside street one day in 1933. He asked them to tell all their friends to come back for another race in one week. 19 boys showed up to the first Soap Box Derby. Today you will find fifty thousand people at the annual event where racers try to win cash prizes and trophies in their sleek machines.
Scouting and pushmobiles are a natural fit. Boys initiated both and both have stood the test of time. Fun, adventure and character development happen naturally when scouts build pushmobiles. Awards are earned, sportsmanship is learned, and fitness is found as the boys prepare for the big race. Teamwork and craftsmanship are the keys if your car is to win. Hand tools, wheels, and wood spark the fire of imagination as the car starts to take the shape of a real racer. The possibilities are limitless! The time-honored tradition of pushmobile racing is coming back to the eCON District. You and your son can be part of the excitement and ongoing history as one of the greatest boy inventions takes hold in our district.