Kremmling Demo Derby running strong at 10
Special to the Sky-Hi News
Noise, noise, and more noise may have been the theme of the day when man and nature gathered Saturday, Aug. 15, for an electrifying show of thunder, fireworks, and car crashes during Kremmling’s 10th Annual Demolition Derby.
Following an afternoon of storms, the popular event opened with sunshine and live music from Brad Lee Schroeder at the Middle Park Fairgrounds.
Kids games, food venders, and an expanded beer garden offered something for everyone, while 32 would-be derbyists, their pit-crews, friends and families readied for the main attraction, a series of contests in which drivers deliberately ram each other’s vehicles in a souped-up, metal-smashing, adreneline-rushing version of bumper cars, where the last car moving can be the only winner.
In the end, only 31 cars would pass the technical inspection and be entered into a theme car contest and one of four individually judged competitions for compact cars, limited-weld vehicles, unlimited-weld vehicles, and trucks. An additional flag race took place in each class, wherein drivers would try to be the first to capture a flag while in the ring.
An assembled crowd of nearly 3,000 spectators – about double the population of Kremmling itself – would cheer and roar as one by one, vehicles were paralyzed by the uncompromising force of hit after hit. They would be wowed throughout the evening by such highlights as a prolonged battle between the first and second-place winners of the Limited Weld class and a truck flipping in the final event.
The excitement was so much that even Mother Nature could not sit idly on the sidelines, but pulled everyone into the action and sent them running for cover with a sudden downpour between the third and fourth classes.
But a little rain could not deter contestants nor spectators.
Winners were announced at the end of the night and celebrated with a brilliant fireworks show by Fire in the Sky and Ken Wilkinson, Kremmling’s own pyrotechnic master. Respective first, second, third-place, and flag winners of each contest were as follows:
Theme Car Contest: Brent Woodard, JD Docheff, Bud Carpenter
Compact Car Class: Terry Frank, Jace Ley, Bryant Frank, Jace Ley
Limited Weld Class: Chuck Martinson, Mike Johnston, Todd Schmidt, Chuck Martinson
Unlimited Weld Class: Landon Winslow, Jeff Boyer, Todd Krula, Jeff Boyer
Truck Class: Curtis Day, Kelley Taylor, Richard Terwilliger, Curtis Day
A spectacle is born
First conceived in 2005 by Rebecca and Will Jones, then members of the Middle Park Fair and Rodeo Board of Directors, the Demolition Derby was intended to add a new element to the annual Fair and Rodeo. The exhilarating event was an instant success and has not stopped gathering support and energy since.
“We are so happy to have seen the continued growth of the Derby,” says Rebecca, a native of Kremmling who, with her husband, has since founded their own event company, GET-SMASHED, specializing in similar events. But they love to come back to Kremmling, she says.
“We really believe in the community and have been so excited to see it help so many.”
She explains how, over the years, various groups have joined in the event, taking over aspects that now serve as their own fundraisers. Examples include the Kremmling Rotary in the concession stand; the Kremmling Area Chamber of Commerce, which has taken over the beer garden; and the West Grand Cheerleaders, who offer a barbecue.
Traditionally held the last Saturday of fair, the Derby eventually grew into its own event and was moved to its own weekend in 2014.
The derby as a stand-alone event has local residents, business owners, and nonprofit groups applauding more than just the collisions. It is being praised as a beneficial economic boost to the town.
Local business owners, lodging providers, and restaurants are all complimentary.
“It is a great event,” says Kenny Bentler, owner of the Rocky Mountain Bar & Grill on the town square. “It is huge for us and brings in a lot of business.”
“The Demolition Derby has, by far, the biggest draw to Kremmling from outside of Grand County,” says Chamber Director Shelly McManus. She reports that area lodging fills up during the event, including campgrounds and the RV park.
“For a single-day event, the benefit is unmatched,” she continues. “We would love to see it continue to grow into a weekend event, either through an expansion on the same theme or in conjunction with other activities.”
In the meantime, the event’s steady growth has meant increased cooperation from the wider community, ongoing changes, and occasional challenges to be navigated.
This year, for the first time, Grand County and its Economic Development Office partnered with Rebecca and crew to take on some of the organizational responsibilities.
“The partnership was great,” Rebecca reports. “Larry Banman [of Economic Development] was there every step of the way and was great to work with. It really freed me up to work on other things and was beneficial to everyone.”
Banman concurs. “The county formalized their agreement with GET-SMASHED this year, and it was wonderful working with them. They really know what they’re doing.”
The agreement allowed Banman and the Economic Development team to better help with the many event logistics from lighting to publicity and to more easily coordinate the large county involvement from EMS services to Road and Bridge prep work at the arena.
McManus reported that the Chamber raised close to $2,400 more than last year. The Rotary club raised enough to completely pay for four to five scholarships, annually awarded to West Grand graduates.
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