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Derby day in Saugus

JJ and Linda Zirpolo watch as Linda's pinewood derby car flies down the track. (Spenser Hasak)

LYNN — After assembling their wooden race cars since Christmas, the members of Boy Scout Pack 62 gathered for their annual Pinewood Derby at the Cliftondale Congregational Church to attempt to leave the competition in their dust.

“This is one of the largest turnouts we’ve had in a long time,” Den Leader John Zirpolo said. “The kids love it.”

For John and his son J.J., the Pinewood Derby is a family affair. The 9-year-old webelo scout had trouble deciding who to cheer for in the open race with his father, mother, and grandfather all having cars in the race, but he managed.

“It’s so exciting,” J.J. said.

He named his own racer “lambro” which resembled a blue Lamborghini, proudly displayed in the wooden slots of the garage near the starting line.

Boy Scout Jake D’Eon, 11, served as the garage master, keeping tabs on all the race cars and handing them off to be placed on the metal race track extending through the center of the room.

D’Eon is a fan of the popular 1970s and ’80s television show M*A*S*H, which showed in his racer which resembled a military ambulance painted a dark green.

“That show’s the best, it’s awesome,” he said.

Soon, the real race began, the four racing lanes being filled with cars of all different colors and shapes, all crafted by the scouts.

Nicholas Amoroso, 8, was one of the first racers to be put to the test, but sadly his car “Hot Rod” hit a bit of a bump in the road.

Near the end of the race the weights on the bottom of his car dragged and slowed the car down.

However Nicholas wasn’t fazed and with a little help, fixed the problem and got his racer back in the running.

“I’m gonna win,” he said.

Overall, the Pinewood Derby brought to life what Zirpolo says is the driving force of the scouts.

“A lot of people think about the scouts and picture it’s all camping and outdoors,” he said. “We do that stuff, but this is what it’s all about. Bringing the community together and learning lessons for the rest of your life.”

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