Utah Architects Become Pinewood Derby Racers

2016 Cars

Craft, Collaboration, and Competition at the Curtis Miner Architecture Annual Derby

It’s no secret that architects in general love and appreciate design and craft. It’s in their DNA! It’s the love of these skills that provided the stimulus for Curtis Miner Architecture’s (CMA) most popular company event: The CMA Derby. Based on the Boy Scout Pinewood Derby, the CMA Derby was introduced in 2016. The Utah architecture and interiors firm recently held its 2nd annual event.

Pinewood Derby for Utah Architects

Project Manager Scott Bingham initiated the event after participating in the Pinewood Derby with his sons. “I always wanted to create a real car, an adult version of the Pinewood Derby,” says Scott. He mentioned the idea to Office Manager Sara Durocher, who loved the suggestion and provided some much-needed traction. While Sara organized the activity, Scott focused next on the judging categories: Design, Craft, and Speed.

CMA provided the car kits and guidelines, participants designed and constructed their racers – some individually, some in collaboration. Contestants are allowed to enter more than one car. They may also re-use cars from other races, with modifications: the traditional 5-ounce weight requirement is increased to 6 ounces for CMA’s race.

2017 entries include Nightrider (No. 9) and Slacker (on the left), a simple block of wood with wheels

The Craft and Design categories are judged by secret ballot of all contestants. For the Speed category, contestants compete in brackets, and the finishes are recorded. And those photo finishes are essential – this year, it took that photo finish to determine the winner. There was less than an inch between the three cars that finished first! Check out this video from 2016 when one car actually jumped the track.

And the Winner Is…

SPEED – Utah Architect and Principal Jay Taggart’s “Speed in Seven Steps”



“There was a YouTube on how to make your car win if you follow these 7 steps,” explains Jay, “It took less than 2 hours, and it worked! Comparatively, it’s not attractive. I got a lot of flak about the look of the wheels. But science won over art.”

DESIGN – Utah Interior Design Specialist Christina Perry’s “Beaver on Logs”


CRAFT – Utah-based Visualization Specialist Ian Anderson’s “Fish”



Fun and More Fun

There’s something in this event for everyone, and one thing each participant seems to agree on is that it’s a lot of fun. For many staff, CMA is extended family. The Derby is a great way to get together with coworkers; to move beyond the day-to-day and the deadlines. And there is definitely a bit of friendly competition. “No tears are shed,” jokes Jay, “there is some motivation for people to win next year.”

Kyle Mendoza’s “The Quarterback Derek Carr”

Sara’s vision for the future? A building-wide competition, with the track and event held in the lobby. So if your fingers are itching for some adult Pinewood Derby fun, maybe it’s time to move offices to 233 S Pleasant Grove Blvd!