Sunday, July 30, 2006

The White Trash Chronicles: We go to the Demolition Derby

In an ongoing quest to experience the best that white trash has to offer, a group of us went to the Demolition Derby in Longmont on Saturday night. That is definitely an event that only men would think of, although there was one woman driver in the field. She was out pretty fast though. Anyway, what woman do you know who would come up with building cars for the sheer purpose of smashing them into each other? Testosterone has brought all sorts of hilariously stupid activities into this world, like dating, for example.

The premise of the Demo Derby is this: take a beat-up shell of a car, like a 1965 Lincoln Town Car or a 1977 Ford Fury, put a driver’s seat in it, a gas tank in the back and gird the driver’s side for impact. Then go to a big outdoor arena in the heat of summer and crash into lots of other cars in front of a crowd of screaming rednecks, and us, who were playing redneck that night. The last car running wins.

I have to say there was something strangely compelling about the Demolition Derby. I’m not a big car fan – I tool around in my 10-year-old Nissan Sentra and besides the A/C, it’s working just fine – but I really enjoyed watching men in tank tops crash into each other. Cars had smoke coming out of them and were on fire, wheels and bumpers came flying off, entire back ends were smashed flat. Oh, and the half-time entertainment involved two tractors ripping a poor unsuspecting car in half.

After the whole thing is over – and it runs long, four and a half hours – you get to go down into the dirt arena and check out the cars. I wish I could do the destruction justice by describing it, but these vehicles are really effed up. And the guys who drive them just laugh and talk about how they’ll pull the side of this car out with their tractor and then weld some stuff on and bring it back out the next time.

Prize money for the Demo Derby runs about $2,500 - $8,000 for a win, which I think you basically put back into your piece-of-crap car, which your wife then bitches about because it is truly an eyesore on any piece of property and marks you most certainly the white trashiest of your particular neighborhood.

Here's a good link if you want to learn more about the Demolition Derby. The man known as Speedo, as profiled by PBS's POV in 2004, is a good example of how people become so immersed in these subcultures that they shape their entire lives.

The other sort-of great part about this Demo Derby, in particular, was that our little county fair accompanied it. So in between crash-fests, a few of us went out to ride a ride and get a snack. I say sort-of because it was an appearances-beat-reality type of affair. The rides looked fun but were kind of ramshackle once you got on them. Plus we did a super twisty-turny one and I was nauseous after that for a good long time. I started out laughing and screaming and then just queasily going “uhhhh” every time we were jerked around. In fact, it makes me nauseous now just remembering it. I think that's one clear sign that you are getting old -- spinny rides that used to be the most fun ever when you are ten are now like horrible torture. If I was a CIA agent or something and I got captured by Iraqi soliders, they could easily learn everthing I knew just by putting me on some super-spinny ride for 15 seconds.

Then the food seems great and fun and white trash – which it is – but it’s also really kind of gross. Burritos from a frozen box, fried funnel cakes and corn dogs, disgusting cotton candy that I once begged for, iffy pieces of pizza that have been sitting out, watery and expensive lemonade.

That said, it was all quite fun. It’s always eye-opening to take a wholesale dunk into other social cultures and find some people whom you probably otherwise would never encounter.

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