Kempner resident and motorcycle police officer Shawn Walden works three jobs: as a cop, theater security and airport security.
The 13-year veteran usually works 10-hour days and doesn’t get to spend much time with his boys, Joseph, 8, and Dakota, 18. But there’s one thing the Walden family does together — they race pine box derby cars every chance they get.
“It began when Dakota was in fifth grade,” said Shawn Walden. “We started off in Cub Scouts then did it in Boy Scouts and now we’re racing with the Royal Ambassadors at church. In fact, this will be Joseph’s first year racing.”
The Walden’s are parishioners at the Kempner Oak Hill Baptist Church, and they along with the Clear Creek Baptist Church host an annual Lampasas Association Royal Racers Pinewood Derby race. Dakota Walden was last year’s winner.
“It was awesome to win the local race even though I didn’t win the state race,” Dakota said. “My secret though is this template design I found. It’s all about the weight, the back axel and the port of gravity (for pine box cars).”
This year’s race is March 22 at Clear Creek Baptist Church. The state race will be held in Belton in April. But before then, the family has some work to do. Even mom, Victoria Walden, gets involved.
“I’ve been painting the cars, cutting out the grooves and putting the weights on for 10 years now,” she said. “Joseph is helping paint now, too. In fact, his design won second most patriotic in the Scout’s race last year. Everyone had American flags but we drew a Texas flag on ours.”
“Racing is the one thing that keeps our family connected,” said Shawn Walden. “It’s helped our relationships and I valued the time we spend together doing it.”
“It’s the one thing we’ve done together, even if we can’t have supper together many nights,” said Victoria Walden, who’s a substitute teacher. “But come August when Dakota goes to college, all that will change. I’m going to miss that and him.”
In the fall, Dakota Walden will be attending the university to study criminal justice. He wants to be a cold case detective because he wants to help families find closure.
“It’s a pretty cool feeling watching him go from Eagle Scout to derby winner to college student,” said Shawn Walden.
“Through derby racing and because of the RA program, Dad attends church more,” said Dakota Walden. “But more importantly, these events help kids get closer to God —who created them and is the main focus. We’ve become more involved and I plan on finding a church when I go to college.”