Sky-Hi News Intern
Watching a driver use a sledgehammer to viciously pound at the body of his car at the Middle Park Fair and Rodeo’s Demolition Derby Aug. 6 in Kremmling, it obviously wasn’t about how shiny or new the automobile was. In fact, the older and more beat up, the better.
“Let’s make it a show for everybody,” said Will Jones, organizer of the Demolition Derby and, on that day, Elvis impersonator for his Full Weld Class car of the same theme.
The object of the derby was to hit other cars as much as possible. Drivers that did not make a hit within two minutes were disqualified. Only one thing was forbidden – intentionally hitting the driver’s side door would immediately disqualify a participant. Everything else was fair game.
Wearing seatbelts, helmets and fire-proof clothing is definitely recommended.
Drivers said they participate in the derby simply because: “It’s fun.”
Jeff Stauffer of Kremmling, who was driving a camouflage painted Compact Class car, liked the opportunity to “legally crash cars.” But, most of all, he valued getting all the kids in his neighborhood involved, especially with painting the car.
What the drivers didn’t mention as incentive was the amount of money at stake. Demolition Derby participants had opportunities to win cash in almost everything they did.
First, there was the Theme Car competition, which was judged by the level of applause from the audience, with the first-place winner receiving $2,000. Then, there was the chance of winning $875 by hitting the stick in the middle of the ring, which the drivers would back into at the start of the race. Each class had a first, second, and third place, awarding $1,500, $1,000, and $500, respectively. Lastly, there was the “Mad Dog” award, worth $1,300 for the most aggressive driver.
Kyle Richert of Kremmling proved that, overall, it was enthusiasm that paid off the most. Sporting a mullet, cut-off flannel and a heart tattoo with “Mother” written in the middle, Richert – winner in the Truck Class with his “God Bless Huntin'” themed truck, complete with dead deer strapped to the hood – explained that he continues to participate in the Demolition Derby because “its the best adrenaline rush he’s ever had.”
Nancy Healy of Granby, seemingly your average mail route driver by day, came prepared for her fourth Middle Park Demolition Derby with her signature pink car, this year a 1975 Cadillac, complete with license plate reading “Mail Girl” in the back window. Contrary to what one would think, Healy doesn’t really encourage other females to participate in the derby – she likes being the only one.
“That car is badass,” said one audience member as class after class – cars and trucks of every size and shape – smashed, bashed and crashed into each other until there was only one left standing.
There were no major injuries or fires, but it didn’t make the derby any less interesting. The dirt and shrapnel flying into the audience, not to mention the awe-inspiring maneuvers, kept everybody excited.
After each class, bulldozers would enter the ring to haul out the destroyed automobiles, unless the drivers could drive out the cars themselves.
“Hey, come here, hold this!” shouted one driver to a friend in the audience, inviting him to stick his hand in the dark abyss that was the hood of his running truck in an attempt to get the dilapidated vehicle, simply dubbed “The Redneck,” moving again so that he could drive it out of the ring.
The derby culminated with a loud and brief fireworks spectacle.
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