Letter from the Writer/Director
Dear Movie Goers!
My first Pinewood Derby more than twenty years ago was a startling, hilarious revelation. When the time came to race the five ounce, seven inch long wooden cars – the Cub Scouts were off at the other end of the recreation center playing basketball while their dads crowded and huddled around the thirty two foot regulation derby track with crazed looks, clenched teeth and white knuckles. The tension in the room was screw tight. Suddenly, when the starting gate lifted and the cars began to roll, I witnessed responsible adults (who, moments earlier, pretended to be at the event only out of parental duty) transform into a bunch of overly competitive nitwits.
When I crawled into bed that night and reflected on the events of the evening I said to myself “This is the stuff movies are made of!” I have always intended to make this film but have been sidetracked making thirteen other full length films and documentaries. Late in the year 2002, my son, Steele, came to me and said “You should write a movie about The Pinewood Derby!”
The timing was right. I contacted The Boy Scouts of America and told them what I wanted to do and asked for written permission to use their registered trademark – “Pinewood Derby.” They generously gave it to me. I began scripting the story and shared it with others – the verdict was unanimous – everyone related to the story and felt the script would make a great movie. Once the wheels started turning, everything seemed to fall into place. We feel very fortunate to have cast Greg Germann and Lauren Holly as leads in the film with an appearance by Pat “The Karate Kid” Morita.
I hope you will all enjoy the film.
Writer & Director
Executive Producer's Comments
In the past few years, several films have succeeded in showcasing an institutionalized event in an entertaining motion picture. Our story is rooted in the tradition of the Pinewood Derby, with all of its funny nuances and thrilling memories. Originally created in 1953 as a Scouting tradition, over 100 million pinewood cars have since been handmade and raced expanding this competition into a crowd favorite among school, church and community venues all over the world.
This movie was made for everyone to see. While it is certainly a must-see for any Pinewood Derby enthusiast, the film plays broadly and speaks to the common (and surprisingly comical) conflict of a parent’s pride and the learning curves our kids go through. Where do you draw the line when teaching, coaching, helping and cheering for your children? “I’m doing all this for my kid!” – sound familiar?
Ever since my very first read-through of the “Down and Derby” script, I was convinced this film needed to be made and distributed as widely as the movie channels would support. Throughout the various stages of production, both the filmmaking experience and the quality of this picture consistently exceeded my expectations. I credit our very talented cast and the professional crew who performed exceptionally well and embraced the spirit of independent filmmaking.
At a time when parents clamor for high quality family-friendly entertainment, this film delivers. Families will laugh at themselves and at each other. Most importantly, they will be laughing together. It has been a pleasure for me to work closely with the entire Hendershot family and watch them in action. As a family who makes family movies for other families to see, they truly epitomize family filmmaking.
Thanks for your interest in learning more about “Down and Derby”. I hope you will give the movie a “thumbs-up” and recommend it to your family, friends and neighbors!