The Delaware County Fair’s week of motorsports ends with bang at 5 p.m. today with the demolition derby.
“We’re expecting a decent car count this year,” said Bryan Mullins, who helps put on derbies at the Delaware, Morrow and Richland county fairs. “We should have a good show because there’s a lot of interest, a lot of guys asking questions about building cars.”
While it looks like chaos on wheels, the motorsport has several different classes and rules about what can and can’t be on or in the vehicles. For example, the airbag systems need to be taken out on the newer vehicles. All vehicles need to have their doors welded shut, weld on a front bumper and add a safety cage around the driver’s compartment. For some classes, more can be done to protect the engines and transmissions.
“The build classes last anywhere from a half-hour to an hour-and-a-half just in one heat, and the stock class will go anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes,” Mullins said. “There’s a big difference, because they just crush up and start falling apart.”
Demolition derby is the automotive equivalent to being a gladiator — the last vehicle running wins. There’s a strategy to winning, though.
“In most cases, you want to take the driver’s tires or steering out,” Mullins said. “If you see the back end is folding up, you hit and might break their driveshaft or an axle. The thing is just taking them out so they’re not mobile anymore. If you can’t do that, one of the alternatives is to shove them up against the wall. If they’re caught on a wall, they’re done because they can’t get off and make a competitive hit every 60 seconds, and we time them out.”
If a car can’t make a hit in 60 seconds, a stick is put on the outside of the vehicle so the other drivers know it’s out of the competition. Other safety considerations are avoiding hitting the driver’s door and halting the action in the event of a fire.
Mullins said demolition derby is different from other types of motor sports.
“I have friends that run dirt track races, and demolition derby. The guys that are more into dirt track racing, it’s different because they build a car and run it all year. We may spend six months building a car, and get 15 minutes of fun out of it.”
He said many of the people in demolition derby got into it because of a friend or family member who have competed.
“It’s something you can’t explain, because you don’t do it for money (the total purse is $7,000),” he said. “It’s a huge adrenaline rush and you have a lot of fun.”
Today is the final day of the fair.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.