In Memoriam: Dr. John D. Jobe

General topics of interest to racers and race coordinators alike.
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FatSebastian
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In Memoriam: Dr. John D. Jobe

Post by FatSebastian »

I only recently became aware that John Dewey Jobe, Ph.D., aka "Doc Jobe" passed away in September 2021 at age 85, during the waning days of the COVID pandemic.

For those that are unaware, Doc Jobe was a physicist who spent his later years analyzing the physics of Pinewood Derby racing. He documented his efforts on his website pinewoodderbyphysics.com and through his 500+ page self-published textbook entitled "The Physics of the Pinewood Derby - With Engineering Applications". He also marketed a Windows program called Virtual Racing that graphically simulated the outcomes of Pinewood Derby races; race outcomes changed by varying the track and car specifications. He proposed and patented a modified track profile - the "Cycloid ramp for gravity race cars" - that induces minimal pitching forces on a Pinewood Derby car to maximize car performance. Sadly, with his passing, it seems that most of his paid product offerings, some of which were unique, are no longer available (except for perhaps the Virtual Racing program, which was developed by a programmer).

I admired his sincere desire to introduce aspects of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education to children through Pinewood Derby racing. He operated his LLC without regard to profit, and was eager to communicate with those who took an interest or had questions about his work. Although his equations of motion were approximations, they were sufficiently accurate to quantify via simulation many operating principles that others learned via empirical "laboratory" experience. For example, in his Lecture 1b, he noted that lubrication and alignment, aerodynamics, and trim weighting can all influence the time-to-finish to about the same level. Therefore, much to the disappointment of beginners, there simply isn't "one most-important thing" that unlocks performance.

He was especially proud of his textbook, which he digitally typeset, illustrated, and printed himself, and then had professionally bound in hard cover believing that it would become a collector's item someday. It is an impressive tome, not likely to be surpassed in its detail and scope. He slightly revised and corrected his book over time, with the date of the printing indicated on the lower right of the inside cover page. The copy I have is dated 7-13-07.

It would be interesting to know how many DTers made the investment in The Physics of the Pinewood Derby. If you have a copy of the book, perhaps you can add a comment noting which printing date you have, and what you might have learned from it or his website...
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Re: In Memoriam: Dr. John D. Jobe

Post by whodathunkit »

I wish I would have picked up one of his books.
From what iv seen and read about his text book
It was 15 years of his work and research.

The things I recall in his book:
Is that he even had troubles with collet type pen vises
and used vice grips and a 3/8 or 10 mm wrench to tighten down the Collet on a number 44 drill bit.
How he used 2 spare wheels
And taped them together to use as an axle drill jig.
His axle lube apparatus.
Notched narrowed front ends for closing up the front wheels gaps to the track rail.
His yard stick and drill bit fulcrum with 7 flat tooth pick’s
0.06q balance and Stack of 24 quarters and 1 penny.
Q- tips for polishing wheel bores..

Way to much to recall and list:

He will be missed but not forgotten.
What type of automobile can be spelled the same forwards & backwards?
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Re: In Memoriam: Dr. John D. Jobe

Post by gpraceman »

Sorry to hear that he passed. I had some communications with him many years ago. He indicated that he had a company that was going to produce his track and pendulum gate design. That never came to fruition. I did base my electromagnetic start gate on the pendulum gate principles.
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Awana Grand Prix and Pinewood Derby racing - Where a child, an adult and a small block of wood combine for a lot of fun and memories.
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Re: In Memoriam: Dr. John D. Jobe

Post by Speedster »

Thank you FS for letting us know he passed. He will be missed.
I still use the book with the young scouts I come in contact with. On the first page he wrote, To: William Klingler, Hope you enjoy the book - Happy Racing, Dr. John Jobe, 12-19-2006. I think of him often. What a Great book and a Great Guy.
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Re: In Memoriam: Dr. John D. Jobe

Post by murphken »

I read all his papers. It was a contributor to helping my son race in scouts. In addition, the information helped me to get where I was when I raced these little wooden cars.

It is amazing how far we have come over the years by sharing information. The Doctor sure put some insight into the sport. This website is another good example of sharing knowledge. You guys actually created this monster inside of me. I miss racing and moving the needle. The times have leveled off so we are probably finished our mission. It sure was fun getting here.



I still remember
SHINING LIGHT Pinewood Derby & Audio
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Re: In Memoriam: Dr. John D. Jobe

Post by FatSebastian »

whodathunkit wrote: Mon Mar 06, 2023 7:38 pmI wish I would have picked up one of his books.
It appears that reprints of The Physics of the Pinewood Derby are now available via Amazon at a price that is significantly discounted from the $100 price Jobe charged. Please report back if you get a copy; it would be great to affirm that the "Big Green Book" is available once again - and at a price that is within better reach!
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Re: In Memoriam: Dr. John D. Jobe

Post by whodathunkit »

Wow Thanks FS,
Just picked up the hard cover book.. and will report back when book is in.
Thank You!
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Post by whodathunkit »

FS, Thank You!
The Physics of Pinewood Derby Book came in today..( lots to read over at 512 page's!)
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Re: In Memoriam: Dr. John D. Jobe

Post by Kenny »

I am sorry to read this news. Thank you for posting. Dr. Jobe was a really nice guy, even in defeat! A true gentleman.

True story: My Son Andrew and I got to know Dr Jobe some years ago during the Mega Derby Council Races in Houston, TX. Both of us won a copy of his beautiful book, along with some digital items for placing 1st in our respective categories.

After the official races were over, Dr. Jobe wanted to race his razor-wheeled open car head to head against my open car champion so we raced on a 48ft Aluminum track (I presumed that this was a preplanned promotional thing, but not sure ) We raced in front of a large crowd and Dr Jobe was very eager to hold and examine my car after it beat his exhibition car, an outcome neither of us expected. It was an untimed head-to-head race, and my entry beat his by a car-length on the long track.

He was gracious in defeat and the scholar in him wanted to understand how a seemingly less aerodynamic car with inferior wheels could be so fast. We talked at length after the races and shared quite a lot of practical construction techniques to go with the theory so to speak. Some of you may recall the early days of rail-riding experimentation, precision three-wheel alignments, Krytox lube, and very aggressive COM configurations to match the track height and length. Dr Jobe picked up on this stuff pretty quickly and joked about a rematch, but unfortunately, we never saw each other again after we moved on to BS and College stuff.

The following year at the Mega Derby, Andrew's entry was beaten after it plowed through the barricade in the semi-final, bending his front axels just before the final race it was disappointing he could defend his Council title with a healthy car, but that's the breaks sometimes. Anyway, I chose not to race in the open championship since the wind was sort of out of my sails. Besides, these events are about the boys after all and mine was bummed about his final PWD.

We hold our copies Dr Jobes' autographed books in high regard. They remind us of a really fun time and inspire us to science. I believe Doctor Jobe would be especially pleased that Andrew got his degree in Physics from the University of Texas and is teaching Physics as he works towards his Ph.D. Funny how things work out. Dr. Jobe surely had a contributing hand in Andrew's decision to pursue a career as a Physicist.

K

PS. I hope y'all and your families are doing great. As i sat here writing this, my mind was swirling with wonderful PWD memories galore! Always a welcome diversion.
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Re: In Memoriam: Dr. John D. Jobe

Post by FatSebastian »

Kenny wrote: Wed Apr 10, 2024 1:47 pmI believe Doctor Jobe would be especially pleased that Andrew got his degree in Physics from the University of Texas and is teaching Physics as he works towards his Ph.D. Funny how things work out.
Great to hear from you again, Kenny, and congratulations to Andrew. Is he also working / getting his Ph.D. at UT?

Neat story about racing against Dr. Jobe at a large venue - thanks for sharing. It would be great to see someone eventually continue / add to Dr. Jobe's theoretical / educational work to explain other performance factors that are now PWD state-of-the-art (e.g., stability dynamics and physics of rail-riding); perhaps Andrew is becoming credentialed to contribute to that sort of project...
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Re: In Memoriam: Dr. John D. Jobe

Post by Kenny »

Long time my friend. Glad you're doing well. I always enjoyed your posts.

Andrew is working on his Masters in Physics @ UT and tells me that he is advised to get his Ph.D at another University. I'm no academic, but I suppose there's value in mixing things up. Diversifying. His current thinking is the University of Michigan. Originally, for undergrad, I encouraged pretty hard for Cal Tech after he told me that MIT was too cold. Not sure what's changed, but I think UofM is pretty chilly at times. LOL. He was "published" as a high school student in Astrophysics discussing topics I didn't understand, and presenting papers to luminaries at the large scientific symposiums, but his heart seems to be in teaching rather than research or space. He feels rather strongly that Physics can be made much more interesting with lots of practical hands-on. Think rocketry, pinewood derby, billards, lasers, etc. We'll see what happens. But who knows? Maybe he will pickup the Dr. Jobe torch and carry it forward.


All the best!
K
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