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Fox Run Hosts 1st Annual Pinewood Derby

March 8, 2019

More than 60 miniature cars participate in inaugural race at Novi retirement community

Novi, Mich. – Fox Run, a continuing care retirement community developed and managed by Erickson Living, recently hosted its inaugural Pinewood Derby race.

Inspired by the classic Cub Scouts racing event for unpowered, unmanned miniature cars, a group of residents from Fox Run's Hobby Shop led by Ollie Marcotte, Bill Gayde and Craig Rockafellow, with support from the Community Resources team, spent more than a year preparing for race day, building the track, recruiting racers and marketing the event.

In the end, more than 60 cars were registered to race. Before they could hit the track, the cars were subject to inspection, weigh-in and certification. Derby participants in the Limited group followed traditional Cub Scout rules, while an Unlimited group had the opportunity to race separately with non-standard cars.

A festive mood

After weigh-ins, the crowd of residents, staff and guests gathered in Fox Run's Derby Room for the Presentation of Colors led by Chet Tarczynski, a prayer offered by Ken Burgess and the singing of the National Anthem by Michael Clayton, all Fox Run community members. Attendees also enjoyed a model jet flyover using a string and pulley system high above their heads. Rob Miller, Fox Run's Director of Dining, had the honor of announcing the most famous words in racing, "Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines!"

Each car raced four times, once on each of the four tracks, which were built by the Hobby Shop team in Fox Run's on-site woodshop, one of many amenities available for Fox Run residents to pursue their hobbies and creative passions as part of a vibrant retirement lifestyle. The speed for each car was recorded as the average of the four races. 

During the race, fans enjoyed a festive atmosphere while snacking on fresh hot popcorn, movie theater boxed candy, and traditional "Indy 500" hot dogs, crafted in the Indy Tradition by Fox Run's professional chefs, and served alongside soft drinks, and more than 16 varieties of beer.

Waving the checkered flag

At the conclusion of racing, trophies were presented by Fox Run resident Marlene "Lady Derby" Visconti to first, second and third place winners for residents, staff, and Hobby Shop members. In addition, awards were presented to the Most Creative Racer, Best Constructed Car and the Grand Prize Speed Winner.

Fox Run's Executive Director Mike McCormick took home first place for staff while Craig Rockafellow took away top honors for the Hobby Shop. All of the trophies, handcrafted by resident and Hobby Shop member Bill Gayde, doubled as a stand to display the winner's derby car.

The trophy for first place resident and Grand Prize Speed was presented to Walter McCoskey, who raced a car originally built in 1972 when he was the leader of his son's Cub Scout Group. "Both my son and I had really fine-tuned cars that year, and we both took first place in our respective races," he remembered fondly.

In addition to his trophy, McCoskey was also presented with two home tickets to a Detroit Tigers this summer and a glass of milk—a famous tradition for winners of the Indianapolis 500 started by Hall of Fame driver Louis Meyer in 1933.

Resident Marj Taylor earned Most Creative for her car, Birdie; and Peggy Mather, Fox Run's Community Resources Manager, was recognized for Best Craftsmanship.

Making memories

The first Fox Run Derby was a huge success, offering residents a chance to reminisce about their own Cub Scout days while creating new memories with friends at Fox Run. The community is already looking forward to next year's race.

"The first annual Fox Run Derby was a great event that brought back memories for me and many residents," said Fox Run's Director of Dining, Rob Miller. "I remember sitting down with my dad while building my first car and then carrying on the tradition with both of my sons. The event was extremely well-planned and everyone had a great time. Next year, my car is going to go just a bit faster!"

About Fox Run: Fox Run, one of 20 continuing care retirement communities developed and managed by Erickson Living, is situated on a scenic 108-acre campus in Novi, Michigan. The community is located in Oakland County and is home to nearly 1,300 residents who are supported by a team of more than 750 employees. Additional information about Fox Run can be found at Fox

Photo Caption: Pinewood derby cars crossing the finish line on the tracks built by Fox Run residents (top left); Resident Bill Gayde at the starting line (top right); Grand Prize Speed Winner and Fox Run resident Walter McCoskey with his winning car, originally built in 1972 (bottom left); cars lining up to race (bottom right).