scribe catches the demolition derby bug
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.
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
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.
the eternal optimist that I am, I asked her for the good
good news is that you won’t die,” she said, which was
the bad news?” I asked.
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.
care was prepped by the boys at Brennan Automotive in
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.
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.
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).
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.
not if you get hit in the driver’s door, but when,” warned
quick check of the Green Hornet confirmed that I didn’t
have any plywood in my door, or the promised foam insulation.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
found out later that the impact snapped the frame as well.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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