Volume 12 Week 5

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Orléans Ward
Bob Monette

Beacon Hill,
Cyrville Ward
Tim Tierney





Anxious scribe catches the demolition derby bug

Well, that was fun. After writing in my last column that I would be taking part in the demolition derby at this year’s Navan Fair, the response was immediate. Most people thought I was crazy, including my daughter and ex-wife. Others wished me good luck, likely assuming I would pull out at the last minute.

A few people said that they would say a pray for me – to which I responded that I didn’t think that God was a demolition derby fan.

A good friend of mine even asked her sister to do a Tarot card reading for me. When I asked what the cards said, she responded that it was “mostly” bad news, but there was some good news.

Being the eternal optimist that I am, I asked her for the good news first.

“The good news is that you won’t die,” she said, which was somewhat re-assuring.

“And the bad news?” I asked.

“According to the cards there will be a lot of bumps and bruises and possibly whiplash,” she answered before offering the caveat that having that knowledge in hand, I should be as relaxed as possible in the the car to prevent the reading from becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The care was prepped by the boys at Brennan Automotive in Sarsfield.

Owner Alain Martineau along with business partner Roy Collier and their team of mechanics managed to convert the Green Hornet from a 1997 Toyota Carolla sedan into a demolition derby demon in less than a week.

The two demolition derby veterans also gave me some pointers on how to get a few hits in while avoiding being hit as much as possible.

In the days leading up to the event, I felt a combination of excitement and apprehension. After all, I’m no spring chicken and there is always a risk of personal injury. Add to that the ominous Tarot card reading and by the time I rolled into the demolition derby staging area to get ready for my heat, I was a nervous wreck (pun intended).

But it gets better. During the drivers meeting the derby marshall mentioned that everyone should have a piece of plywood placed inside the driver’s door in case someone errantly slammed into you. Now it should be said that demolition derby rules strictly stipulate that you should never hit another competitor’s driver-side door on purpose. That doesn’t mean that accidents can’t happen.

“It’s not if you get hit in the driver’s door, but when,” warned the marshall.

A quick check of the Green Hornet confirmed that I didn’t have any plywood in my door, or the promised foam insulation. Wonderful.

It is at this point that I seriously con-sidered pulling out, or, at the very least, providing myself with a white flag just in case I wanted to abandon the melee at the first hint of disaster.

But then I found out that a preliminary derby would be held with four cars from competing radio stations going head-to-head, and each car would be driven by a young female driver.

Well, there wasn’t any pulling out after that. If a couple of waif-like, 20-year-old young women could do it then so could I. Within minutes of the conclusion of the preliminary heat, the marshall waved myself and the other five competitors in my heat into place.

At that point I just focused on keeping my head while trying to stay relaxed. It wasn’t until the first hit that every ounce of pre-derby anxiety and apprehension completely drained from my body. It was like a switch from that point it was a total blast. I’ve never had so much fun on four wheels in my life.

I got about three or four hits in until David Gravelle, who was the eventually winner, nailed me on the front passenger side and snapped my strut while I was trying to line someone up behind me. With only one front wheel I couldn’t go anywhere and my derby was over.

We found out later that the impact snapped the frame as well.

I felt bad for the old Green Hornet, but the car had served me well. I bought it two years ago for $900 and figure I have gotten my money’s worth.

Before the derby, Roy told me that if I enjoyed the experience he would get me a car for next year. I told him I may be crazy, but I’m not stupid. Once would be enough.

Well call me stupid, because I can hardly wait until next year. It was off the charts fun. You can have your roller coasters and your Twister. For my money the demolition derby is hands down the best ride at the Navan Fair.

I even met a man named Maurice Prud’homme from Beckett’s Creek who retired from demolition derby two years ago at the tender age of 65. He started at the same age I am, 56, and immediately caught the bug.

I’m not sure if I will do it for that long, but I plan to give it at least one more try, only with the big boys in the feature event on the Friday night. In fact, I can hardly wait.

(If you wish to comment on this or any other View Point column please write to Fred Sherwin at fsherwin@magma.ca)

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