In my hometown of Shawville, there is a yearly Labour Day tradition that serves as the end of summer and the culmination of the annual Shawville Fair. This event is called the Demolition Derby, where stripped down junked cars are pitted against one another in a free-for-all crash-fest until only one or two are able to leave the arena under their own power. There is always an excellent turnout, with this year being no exception, despite the rain.
Safety is a great concern to the organizers of this event, and many obvious steps are taken to ensure that this event is safe and enjoyable for all involved. The local volunteer fire department is always watching and ready, and there are barriers between the viewer stands and non-stop action. The cars themselves have glass, mirrors and all non-metal parts removed. There is instant disqualification for any car that hits the driver's side of an opponent's car and it is encouraged to only back into other cars.. And finally, when a car begins to smoke, an emergency "red flag" is called so that officials can determine if it is safe to proceed. These precautions add to the surreal excitement of the event.
The event is divided into heats of six or seven cars, classed by engine size. The four cylinder matches were over quickly; the small cars began smoking and became inoperable due to the stress of repeated collisions. One rare treat was that one of these cars was flipped onto its side and began smoking!
The most enjoyable matches were the six-cylinder heats – those cars can take a beating and still come back for more! Some cars were damaged to the point where their rear axles were dragging on the ground and yet were still operable enough to compete, and others sprayed the stands with dirt as they sped around the small arena. I marvelled at how a sedan could crumple to the size of a compact car and still be able to function.
The eight cylinder heat was last, and while tough, the cars could be considered too tough for the small pen they were enclosed in, which made for a very long, drawn out heat. It was still very fun to watch, but a much larger arena would allow these cars to achieve their true destructive potential.
Though Shawville is a four hour drive from Montreal, the Demolition Derby is a great event which appeals to young and old alike. Some go for the cars, but everyone goes for the collisions.