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A Brief History of PFS Scout Car Grand Prix

Previously, we highlighted some foreword messages found in the 1992 PFS Scout Car Grand Prix souvenir magazine to debunk claims that the pedal car race organised by the Penang Turf Club in August 2007 is the first ever pedal car racing in Malaysia as claimed by them and rubber-stamped by the Malaysian Book of Records.

Here, we would like to publish in verbatim the introduction from that same souvenir magazine which gives us a great look at the history of the PFS Scout Car Grand Prix.
The Scout Car Grand Prix, originally called the Soap Box Derby, was the brain child of the late Mr. F. Haydn Dimmock (editor of "The Scout" magazine). The Soap Box Derby was first held in 1939 in Britain. The event was a great success.

Mr. Dimmock's main idea was to organise a novel event to let youngsters have a means to express their competitive and team spirit in a fun-filled way and also to encourage skills and creativity in the design, construction and means of propulsion of cars from used bicycle spare parts and scrap material. Little did Mr. Dimmock realise then that this unique idea would capture the interest of Scouts in Britain and throughout the world.

After that first experiment, the event has been regularly organized and has now taken on a national status. The idea that Mr. Dimmock gave to Scouting has spread like wild fire all over the United Kingdom and is now an annual affair. In America it is Carnival time with Soap Box cars and families spend the whole day watching the thrilling races.

Although speed has been one of the principle objects of the event (fastest speed recorded - 26.87 mph), the Derby has been noted for the very high standard of workmanship achieved and great ingenuity has frequently been displayed. It is not common for cars to have nine gear changes and considerable skill is exercised by the young mechanics.

This event was first introduced to Penang by Mr. Peter Oon of the Penang Free School B-P Guild, who participated in a classic event in London during his days as a law student. The first Soap Box Derby was organised by the Penang Free School B-P Guild in 1969. In 1970 the second was held in the City Stadium.

The Penang Free School Rover Scout Crew which was formed in 1972, decided to undertake the task of continuing the exciting tradition after the dissolution of the Gild under the new name of "SCOUT CAR GRAND PRIX". The first Grand Prix in 1972 attracted a total of 31 Scout groups and 14 Guide and Ranger companies with 11 Scout cars. In 1974, the venue of the 3rd Grand Prix was held at Gurney Drive to allow greater involvement from the public. That same year, the Crew was able to exhibit some of the Scoutcars at the 3rd Malaysian Jamboree in Johore.

There was then a lapse of three years, after which the next Grand Prix was held in 1978 which attracted more than 30 Scout and Guide groups participating with 11 Scoutcars. In 1979, the event was held in the month of December in conjunction with the Pesta Pulau Pinang and the State's efforts to promote tourism.

In 1980, a new event "Fastest Scoutcar" was introduced and with it a new challenge trophy bringing the total number of challenge trophies donated by supporters of the Scouting Movement to six. The Scout Car Grand Prix was last held by the PFS Rover Scout Crew in 1984 with 12 Scout and Guide groups participating with 10 Scoutcars.

This time after a lapse of seven years the Scout Car Grand Prix has been revived by the PFS Rover Scout Crew and the PFS Combined Scout Council. The Crew and The Scout Council sincerely hope that this event will continue to be a useful outlet for the tremendous creativity and skill in our youth today.
In the next article, we will publish the list of participating schools and scout cars for the 1992 PFS Scout Car Grand Prix.

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