Do they have demolition derbies in heaven?

Editorial written by Christopher Morrill on Tuesday, September 12, 2000

from the another-fine-redneck-tradition dept.

I have a confession to make: I love demolition derbies.

This may come as a surprise to our regular readers. I usually type out long, vicious rants against almost anything that's redneck or country. Few things are essentially more redneck than a demolition derby. So, you would think I'd hate them accordingly.

Wrong. I wouldn't miss it for the world.

Only in America do we have enough spare, junk cars laying around that we can destroy them on purpose. And call it a sport. And have people pay to see it.

Yet, pay to see it I do. So do a lot of other people around here. Every year at the SEMO District Fair, you'll find me there, hooting and hollering with the crowd just like a regular ol' Joe Six-Pack.

A demolition derby is a feast for all the senses that most men simply cannot resist. Even an un-country fellow like myself falls in love with the atmosphere. Guys are naturally prone to enjoy sports where aggression, violence, and noise are commonplace.

Well, the demolition derby has all of that. It's almost a sensory overload, an orgasmic smorgasbord of mayhem:

See the wanton, reckless destruction.

Hear the horrific impact of metal on metal.

Feel the thunderous rumbling of the engines.

Smell the acrid smoke in the air.

Taste the ice-cold, overpriced draft beer.

If it only had naked ladies and illicit sex...demolition derby would be the perfect sport.

And unlike professional wrestling, there's absolutely no doubt that this is real.

The cars themselves are a motley collection of beaters, junkers, and scrap-heap rejects. No one obviously wants to put a really decent car into this competition. The cars are usually sponsored by local body shops. They'll spray-paint a number on the car, along with their wife's/girlfriend's/kid's/favorite coon dog's names. In an election year such as this, some cars will actually have campaign ads on them. Bondo abounds.

The majority of the vehicles sacrificed in this yearly ritual are full-size four-doors or station wagons. Size does matter on the demolition derby circuit.

But there's always a small car that survives the initial round... perhaps a Ford Pinto, perhaps an AMC Gremlin. This "cute" little car becomes the crowd favorite in the finale, duking it out with some bigger 1970's era behemoth in a grisly fight to the death.

The lack of mufflers is profound amongst these vehicles, and virtually none seem to have a catalytic converter. The pall of smoke that hangs over the muddy battlefield after the competition is heavy, thick and pervasive... it will take a few washings to remove the smell from your clothes. Any environmentalists present at this gathering will be so indignant at the air pollution that they may pop the veins in their foreheads. (Let's hope the good Dr. Journet of SEMO wisely stays clear of these grandstands.)

There will be loud, resounding booms as overworked radiators spectacularly explode. The crowd will ooh and ah appreciatively. There will be cars that get stuck in the mud and give up, causing the crowd to boo. There will be at least one occurrence where one car gets a really good run at the other and ends up on top of it. This ends up resembling a bizarre vehicular mating scene caught at 4:00 AM on the Discovery Channel.

That usually gets a standing ovation. Who ever said there wasn't any sex at the demolition derby?

Members of The Cape Rock's staff have questioned the overall sanity of rodeo bullriders in the past. The sanity of a demolition derby driver, on the other hand, is not in question.

They have no sanity to debate.

Here's the demolition derby training course, boiled down to two sentences:

  1. Crash this car, as fast as you can, into other cars.

  2. Repeat as necessary.

That seems clearly insane to me. It's like Driver's Ed being taught by Attila the Hun.

Which is why it's all so much fun.