As you may recall from my most recent First Person Exploits into the Unknown from a month ago, I’m a diehard racing fan and will go out of my way to travel somewhere to catch a race.
For example, this past weekend saw a triple header of World of Outlaws sprint car series races in North Dakota with events in Grand Forks, Fargo and Minot taking place over the course of three nights.
Plus, this coming Saturday, the series will be making a stop in Billings, Montana, so I was really tempted to make the nearly nine hour drive South to see that event.
However, sources then informed this reporter that you need to work on a somewhat regular basis to afford to make these trips and to also earn the opportunity to have holidays to visit your family over Christmas, so that put the kibosh on those plans.
Instead, I made plans to attend the one of the marquee events of Northwest Territorial Days as the Battlefords Agricultural Society played host to the 33rd annual Western Canadian Finals Demolition Derby.
Naturally, any motorized competition is going to have my attention, but a demolition derby where the winner can pick up $2,500 and bragging rights for an entire year is going to have my attention.
Back in my hometown of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., we had a few demolition derbies at my local paved short track, Laird International Raceway.
Eventually, those went the way of the dodo bird as they were eventually replaced with a ‘Spin to Win’ event, school bus races and a botched attempt at building a Figure 8 track in the middle of the infield, but I’ll save that rant about that facility for another day.
With 21 cars entered to battle it out for the grand prize Friday night, this seemed like something that would be different from what I have seen in the past.
My assumptions were certainly confirmed the moment I headed towards the grandstands, as it was hard to find a seat if you got there just before the races got started at 6 p.m.
In a sense, it was similar to the crowds that you would see at the Chuckwagon races that take place in North Battleford each June, but obviously there was a lot different atmosphere to watch cars smash into one another than it is to see chuckwagon racers zoom around the track.
For those that haven’t been to the event, here’s how it works.
Once you find your vehicle, preferably one of those massive cars that take up a city block and were made in the 1970’s, you have to remove all of the glass and make sure everything is up to snuff for safety reasons.
A ring is set up in the middle of the front stretch grandstands, and a six-car heat takes place with the last card standing advancing into the grand final.
If your car isn’t completely damaged, you have a chance to come back and compete in a mercy heat, which gives you a second chance of qualifying for the main event.
Since the goal is to keep your car running as long as possible, the main goal is to try and avoid completely destroying the front end of your car so that your motor keeps running throughout the night.
That’s easier said then done though, as other drivers will come barreling into your vehicle from all sides, which could lead to a lot more damage.
There is enough breaks in the action though to help drivers repair their car throughout the evening though, as welders and sledgehammers become the best friends of the pit crews at they repair the machines.
Also, and this is very important to remember, you can’t hit another car in the driver’s side door as you’ll be disqualified for safety reasons.
The discretion of this rule is interpreted by the flagmen that are around the ring, so your better off not doing anything stupid out there otherwise you’ll get thrown out.
This year’s competition went along fairly well, with a number of long drawn-out battles to get into the final.
One of the best ones occurred in a heat race between Blair Walker and Bob Bjerkness, as both vehicles defied all logic and kept on going despite several times where one of the cars would stop running for a moment.
In the end, Walker’s car ended up taking the victory, which resulted in him getting on top of the smashed up front end and pumping the crowd following his victory.
The scariest moment of the night came during the grand final, when eventual champion Darren Poitras Jr. rammed into the side of Darcie Savoie’s machine and flipped it onto it’s roof.
There were a few anxious moments as emergency crews rushed to the scene, but thankfully Savoie was okay as he got out of his car and didn’t seem to be that worse for wear.
In fact, the car wasn’t too damaged despite being flipped on its head, but at that point he was out of the proceedings.
All in all, it was a pretty entertaining way to spend a Friday night, as it had enough twists and turns to keep everyone on their edge of their seat.
Sure, it was completely different than what I saw at the World of Outlaws race last month, but this was easily a good way to satisfy my need to see some of sort of motorized action before the winter sports season begins.
Plus, the fair is a great way to see some obscure soccer jerseys. I mean, how often are you going to see someone rocking a Santos Laguna uniform in this area.