By Bruce Stambaugh
The employees at Homestead Furniture in Mt. Hope, Ohio don’t just build incredible furniture. They know how to have fun together, too.
Their latest entertaining venture threw in a little competition. A pine car derby was held recently in the manufacturing building across the road from the retail store. Of course, they invited their families and had plenty of good food.
The congenial group enjoys the camaraderie of one another, along with some good, fun competition. When warehouse manager Dave Hostetler suggested a pine car derby, the race was on.
The contest was announced, and rules were distributed to whoever wanted to participate. In all, 22 employees bought a pine car kit and built their racer to the required specifications.
Each race car had to weigh no more than five ounces. The maximum length was seven inches and the rear width of the car was two and three-fourths inches. Contestants were encouraged to be creative with their car designs. Given the creativity of the staff at Homestead Furniture, that turned out to be a given.
The cars varied in style and color. One entrant, Noah Shetler, even entered two pink cars in honor of his wife’s battle with breast cancer. One car was numbered 08 for 2008 when his wife was diagnosed. Number 11 was for 2011 when his wife was declared cancer free after several rounds of chemotherapy treatments. One of the more original racer designs was a racer built in the shape of an outhouse.
Ada Marie Troyer dedicated her car, and her eventual winnings, to her niece who was recovering from critical injuries sustained in an automobile accident. Her car was named Best of Show.
Hostetler built the track 31 feet long, five feet high at the start. It was a two-slot track with a steep slope that the cars raced down to the finish line. Two cars raced per heat, with the winner going to the winner’s bracket, and the loser to the loser’s bracket. Once a racer lost twice, they were eliminated from the competition.
While the race went on, family members enjoyed homemade snacks that each family brought. Owners Ernest and Barbara Hershberger provided the hot dogs and beverages.
With the audience gathered around the black and yellow painted racetrack, judge Daniel Troyer watched over the finish line to declare the winner of each heat. In several races, only the nose of a race car determined the winner.
In the end, none of the other racers could match the sleek racer built by LaVern Hershberger. In fact, his car never lost a race.
Asked what his secret to winning was, LaVern said he baked his car prior to the race. Baking it reduced the moisture content, thus reducing the weight, he said. This allowed him to place weights where they were critical to making the car run smoothly.
LaVern also said he waited until the last minute to lubricate the car’s tires with powdered graphite. He declined, however, to say how long he baked his car, citing proprietary secrets.
LaVern won $100. Shetler finished second, winning $75, which he donated to Sisterhood of Hope, a support group for breast cancer victims. Krissy Yoder finished third and won $50.
Ada Marie Troyer donated her $33 winnings to her niece to help cover medical expenses.
It was a fun evening overall, mingling teamwork with fellowship, always a winning combination.
Homestead Furniture is located in the heart of the world’s largest Amish population at 8233 State Route 241, Mt. Hope.
© Bruce Stambaugh 2012