I’ve worked a lot as an EMT-Paramedic. Since 1997, except for when I was full time traveling and full time writing. Both those periods were entirely too brief, but that is for another time.
On a nice summer day I wouldn’t mind going to a car crash (Called MVA or MVC in the technical parlance), but people rarely crash when it’s nice out. Inside I would frequently get to stand in biting, cold, snowy condition trying to drag someone out of a car, rear ended at all over 3 mph while they screamed how their back hurt and listing off the people they planned to sue. Okay, it wasn’t like that very often but even once it too much.
Somehow, in the course of all this, I had never once attended a demolition derby. I don’t know how that happened, looking back. Clearly I just failed to attend enough county fairs, which are probably the last, best, place to encounter the retro Americana people go on about. This past summer a motorcycling friend of mine actually entered a demo derby (not for the first time), and I decided to go and watch. The event was actually on the last full day of the 110th, and Rania was leaving the next day. I invited them all along with, but they passed and I found myself at the Walworth County Fairgrounds on Curiosity. They had motorcycle parking, but street parking would’ve been a better choice. On the (very) long walk in I saw my friend’s weapon of choice for his event.
No, that’s not him.
There were three events, the first two were qualifiers and the last was the finals. I had to work early the next morning so I got tickets to the first two, assuming that he would appear in one or the other of them.
Once I had my tickets, actually a couple of wrist bands, I found a few friends who were also there for the carnage that was to follow. There was some confusing over where were going to sit. Supposedly an area had been marked off for us, but once we got into the bleachers they were packed and it was everyone for themselves. I still managed to find a small open area where I could sit with a couple friends and see the field of play.
As I had mentioned, I hadn’t ever been to a demolition derby before, so I wasn’t aware of the potential dangers of sitting so close.
These preliminary rounds were broke up by the relative size of the vehicles involved, and by how much they had been modified for the purpose of crashing into each other. All the vehicles – I can’t saw cars since there were vans and trucks – did have minimum safety features, roll cages and the like.
Listening to the annoucer drone on and then watching the cars line up wasn’t all that impressive. Loud, but I’d just spent a couple nights looking at Harleys. Noise did not impress me. Once they started the slaughter, though, I was hooked.
Cars were eliminated when they could no longer move. Drivers signaled they were out but pulling down little flags attached to their windows, though sometimes one of the refs would have to point out to a driver that they were, in fact, done. There was money to be won in the finals, and I had the impression that money really mattered to some of those drivers. The last two from each group was allowed through, and the second show had consolation runs, where repaired cars could try again.
In between each episode of violence, small front end loaders would come out to push cars out of the arena and fix any damage to the concrete blocks. Some of those drivers showed far more skill than the guys in the cars.
While I freely admit it was the crashing of cars together that caught and held my attention, some of the drivers brought a sense of humor to the event as well, which made a difference.
The bigwheel stayed attached for a while. The monkey, sadly, did not.
In the end, I didn’t get to see my friend destroy his minivan. Since there were so few mini-van entries, everyone was promoted to the finals, and I didn’t want to stay that late. Of course, I probably would have changed my mind about that if I had known in advance how cool it was going to be, but I didn’t know and didn’t change my plans.
I rode home on Curiosity as the sun set, and vowed next year I would try and see more demo derby. Also tractor pulls, a friend told me those are cool too.