Last Night: Demolition Derby



In college, I lived in a house with a pool table. The pool table, stuffed in a side room, served sometimes for billiards, but more often, as a bar or a beer-pong table. Once, it served as a bed. One night, somebody got drunk and messed it up, so my ever-evolving cast of roommates decided to take it to the alley out back and break it. I happened to be driving by and decided to help in the demolition effort. I turned down the alley, hit the gas and ran over the pool table. It was awesome.

I thought about that event last night as I watched my first-ever demolition derby at the Western Montana Fair.

It seems absurd that somebody would fork over 17 bucks to witness a bunch of rust buckets smashing each other to pieces, but when offered a ticket, I didn’t hesitate to fish out my wallet. Perhaps the appeal lies in the fact that demolition derbies are usually illegal—you don’t get to run your car into stuff very often. Or maybe it’s the feeling we’ve all had during a traffic jam on Reserve Street. As I inch along at a mile or two per hour, bicyclists sailing by on the shoulder, there’s always a part of me that wants to drop into four low, T-bone a Subaru, flip off an old lady, pick off a bicyclist or two, then swing it into oncoming traffic and hit the gas. In demolition derbies, you can do this. But also, as a co-worker points out, destruction is really cool. Either way, I became a fan of demolition derbies last night.

The only let down of the night came during the intermission entertainment. While drivers readied for the consolation round, the arena showcased a so-called "Redneck Relay." Two teams competed to change a tire on a police car, tape up a back window, shoot it out with a paintball gun, then, toss a toilet seat in the trunk. It sounds hilarious, but the end result is 3,000 people watching a dude change a tire.

Despite the destruction that served as the main event, my favorite part of the night was watching three freestyle motorcyclists. With zero room for error, they accelerated along a ramp, hit the throttle, sailed perhaps 50 feet in the air, performed a trick (a back flip, a can can) and landed. I’d seen it before on TV, but to witness it in person was pretty impressive. In fact, it was the only time all night I didn’t want to see any destruction.

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