Gladatorial Games are are alive, well, and auto-driven in the Northumberland Hills of Eastern Ontario. They are called Demolition Derbies. The Warkworth Fall Fair kicked off Friday night with a Demolition Derby at Dusk. Now this reviewer had been to the Brighton Speedway just south of Warkworth on Highway 30 where the mud track races are essentially demolition derbies. The winner is usually among the last few cars that can slip slide around the track and to victory.
Dusk at the Demolition Derby
But Brighton cars and tires are mudders as the track is deliberately hosed down before each of 2-3 stages of a race. Also, except for passing too closely, the mudders are trying to get over the finish line first. So I was wondering what would be done at the Warkworth Fair. The pictures below tell the story.
First there was an square enclosure of about 250 by 150 feet made by big concrete blocks. Just outside those blocks were 2-3 firetrucks and some big powerful pole lights that lit up the enclosure. There were also big speakers posted midway and each end of the enclosure where D.Derby Mistress of Ceremonies barked out commands, advertisements, and info postings on what was going to happen real soon next.
Finally there were 6 junker cars and trucks first outside the enclosure and then after a rendition of the national anthem, they entered the ring. The vehicles were criss-crossed with crudely drawn advertisements on their doors, roofs and hoods.Clearly these vehicles were suspect on being able to start much less hold together.
Auto Gladiatorial Combat
So the Demolition Derby starts with Square Dancing. To prove they are semi-operable, the vehicles go around the enclosure in Square Dancing Dosey Dough fashion [with Ms Demo D. calling the Square Dancing patter]. It is at this point that one finds out the vehicles won’t be going around the track in a race but will be deliberately slamming into each other. Hence , the name – Demoltion Derby or Auto Gladiatorial Combat. The difference with the Roman Gladiatorial Spectacle is that Roman Gladiators were trying to kill each other where as our modern era Gladiators are trying to kill/demolish/render inoperable their opponents vehicles.
Now the vehicles themselves are, to put it nicely, wrecks on wheels. Drivers don’t enter through the doors but catapult themselves in through the driverside window. And all the drivers wear helmets. But talking with a fireman at the Derby one discovered they were there “just in case, a driver couldn’t get out or a car ignited”. Ohhh … yes, of course.
Demolition Derby’s Are Popular
There was solid turnout for this first event of the Warkworth Fall Fair
Doing some rough counting, this viewer would estimate there were roughly 550 to 650 attendees at the Derby. And the crowd was young, filled with kids and lots of women. And the night was crisp if not downright cold with the threat of rain. The nearby Midway rides could not compete for fan attention and support.
Now remember these vehicles are wrecks on wheels. Steering them is somewhere on the continuum of hope-and-a-prayer to sheer-voodoo magic. And changing gears is a craps roll. So no surprise, the first skirmish was over in a flash. And this party was not sure who won until the 20 car appeared in a later encounter.
Now the D. Derby is refereed. You are not allowed to whop into the driver-side of an opponents car. Also there are a few other prohibitions – perhaps related to driving under the influence. However, recall that these vehicles are wrecks on wheels. Also remember that steering is not an art but voodoo magic. So the drivers ability to control the trajectory of their cars precisely is precisely what is in grave doubt.
And sure enough a driver-side crash stopped the D. Derby for well over a half an hour as the rescuers took their time a)to extract the driver from the disabled vehicle and b)to cart the driver away in an EMS ambulance still in “a world of pain”.
Driver Down and Finally Carted Out
By the time the driver was removed the crowd was thinning fast so they left the disabled vehicle in the enclosure and commenced the last skirmish among surviving vehicles.
At first it looked like the drivers would not be able to make contact with each other – even with the abandoned vehicle restricting the combat area. Many a glancing blow but nothing lethal. Then just like the very first skirmish the battle was done in a jiffy as one vehicle got pinned next to the abandoned one and the opposing driver kerplunked the opposition with a scrumptious rear fender bender.
And the D. Derby was over just like that.
The winner received a Giant Trophy
And the D. Derby was done. And this reviewer now knows to save his $8 for the Brighton Speedway.