How to be a Smashing Success at a Demo Derby
That's right, "i95’s Slammin’ Shannon," who spent plenty of time at the Waterford Speedbowl in Connecticut when her high school sweetheart Big Hick raced, will be taking the wheel and seeing how long she can survive the mayhem inside the pit. She called up some of her old racing buddies for some insider tips, so we spent a few minutes talking to her about how she's preparing for the big day.
Q: Are you going to need a ride to work on the Monday after?
A: I'm not using my regular street car! Rick’s Auto Parts will be providing a car for me so fortunately, I will not have to purchase a car just to destroy it. All demo derby cars have a few alterations: All the glass must be removed. You are only permitted 5 gallons of fuel, and all antifreeze is to be drained and radiators will be refilled with water only. The doors are welded or chained shut, and there is a hole cut into the hood of the car to make easy access for the fire department to reach the engine in the instance of a fire. If you’re hardcore, you can also have your rear end welded to create positraction. (You might have to look that last one up; it essentially ensures that both wheels receive the same amount of power when accelerating.).
Q: Wow. Is there anything that's specifically prohibited?
A: You are not permitted to use studded tires, although if you have a “leftover set” of snow tires, they will give you added traction in climbing over other vehicles. You also aren't allowed to pre-damage your car so that it smashes up on impact instead of down.
Q: Sounds dangerous. Are you going to wear a helmet?
A: The ONLY requirement for a demolition derby is that you wear a helmet and impact goggles and of course a seatbelt – CHECK got ‘em. Now I wouldn’t call myself much of a “Safety Sally” under most circumstances, but on Demo Day, I will also be wearing a neck collar to reduce whiplash and a mouth guard (because I want to keep all my teeth.) Also, no deliberate head-on collisions or deliberate ramming of a driver's door is allowed.
Q: How long do you think you'll last?
A: Well, I've got the benefit of some advice. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Instead of being all willy nilly and smashing everything in sight, it’s better to have calculated hits that will inflict the most critical damage, like radiator-side impact. Let the trigger-happy drivers go first and capitalize on their destruction. HOWEVER, the judges do set a time limit so if your plan is to be evasive for the entirety of the competition, you will be DQ’ed. And the single most important strategy that I will be taking advantage of – REVERSE. Yes, I will be driving this car in reverse as long as the tranny lets me. There are far fewer vital parts in the backside of a vehicle. Sure, I could have drivetrain problems, but if I’m lucky and I get a front- or four-wheel drive car to demo, my mission will be to protect my front end.
Q: And what's at stake in this competition, aside from your pride?
A: There is a $1,500 prize for the last man standing on Friday, June 15, and should you be able to run again on Sunday, June 17, there is a “pay back” round where you can also win another $1,500. Guess it’s time to go big or go home!
So, if you want to see i95’s Slammin' Shannon and the rest of the field in action, be sure to check out the Goshen Stampede!