I first remember hearing about demolition derby ages ago while watching a Louis Theroux documentary.
Louis took a look at this bizarre sport of smashing cars together until they die and even competed in a low tier demolition derby event. It’s safe to say that Louis was not a natural at smashing cars. He seemed to struggle with the idea, as if wondering why anyone would want to drive cars into each other, let alone try and perfect the art. Louis described his driving experience as ‘scary’ and eventually he defaulted in a later round deciding he’d rather not drive at all. Got to say I was pretty disappointed in Louis’ attitude during this documentary. Many of the American derby drivers he met and interviewed seemed to have an almost primal addiction to the sport. Other than the technical driving ability many seemed to stress how important aggression was in the sport – an eat or be eaten attitude.
Along with the sport of rodeo eventing, demolition derby was right up there on my list of things I considered a must to experience while doing this North American road trip. Luck would have it that a team demolition derby event was scheduled at the Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Illinois on a day we could make. Route 66 is the iconic American highway which stretches from the north east near Chicago to the south west near Los Angeles. So many famous American songs, television programs and movies feature this highway and everyone who wants to make an epic North American road trip wants to drive this highway. As such I was excited to be attending my first ever demolition derby at the Route 66 Raceway and we even drove part of the historic Route 66 on our way to Joliet.
One of the most awesome aspects to attending this team demolition derby event was the ‘tailgating’ prior to the event. We had no idea when we turned up but I was very pleasantly surprised. Essentially people just park up in the car park, pull out camp chairs, chilly bins and even BBQ’s and then just chill out in the sun drinking beer and talking shit. My immediate reaction was ‘hell yeah’, and I quickly grabbed our deck chairs, set up my external speaker and was soon enjoying the sun and drinking beer like a local. Tailgating is actually an advertised part of this event, check out the website here.
The event itself was fun, an awesome one off experience but probably not the kind of thing that I’d go to on a regular basis. I guess as the night wore on I got tired of listening to engines roar and watching metal smacking together. The feature event was the team demolition derby race where eight or so teams competed in various heats until the final. Two teams battled at a time, each consisting of four cars. To win, a team needed to have a single car make five laps of the course, or of course, disable all the opposing team’s vehicles. There was also a figure eight event where the cars drove a figure eight track and try not to smash into each other in the middle. The wet soft mud course naturally makes steering and changing speed challenging so there were plenty of smashes.
Quick Video Overview of Team Demolition Derby
Longer Video Showcasing Event
If you haven’t been to a demolition derby event I recommend you do if you get the chance. You’ll especially enjoy it if you have a soft spot for motor sport or mud.