Demolition Derby

Here in North Idaho, we tend to notice the end of summer, not just by the calendar, but by some of nature's indications: cooler weather temperatures, foliage begins its color change fringed in October's tones, and the demolition derby during the North Idaho State Fair.

We walked the Fair taking in the usual suspects: bees and honey sticks, waffle cones filled with huckleberry ice cream, livestock, crafts; amongst other things. Clocks declare 5:30pm so we walk the asphalt trail which turns to gravel and dirt. A row of port-a-potties to our right. Hand over tickets. Scanned. A garbled beep declares a valid entry. Hands stamped with red ink. The familiar path leads to our seats; this time: section 14. Today, a newbie attendee—who has recently joined our family—has followed us in for his first.

A perimeter of felled lumber nestled in the arena's wetted dirt from previous days of thundershowers and storms; one entrance. By the minute, families join our section and begin filling in the empty spaces. Announcements made over the loud speaker only to be interrupted by that of musical tracks that someone—whoever is running the soundboard—thinks is hilarious to never finish a great song.

Sitting. Waiting. Talking. Time grows closer to the starting horn. A young man and his girlfriend walk the muddy path and find their seats right next to ours. They are carrying a plate of nachos, each. He asks questions about the derby while she listens—two more novices—which I eagerly answer: discussing rules and such. We talk. Introductions are made. Announcer comes on over the loud speaker and lets the crowd know that the derby is about to begin. Instructions follow. Events for the night: heavyweights and imports. Before we begin, we all stand with hands over hearts as our National Anthem is sung with strength. A weathered American flag, a symbol of freedom and liberty, flaps in the breeze. The arena crowd sings along; unison and unity. America.

Reborn metal sans mufflers proceed into the circle from the pits. Unbroken surrender sticks sit upon rust and spray paint. Crowd cheers. Sol slowly descending towards an orange sunset horizon decides the day is done as the moon begins its ascent to rule a chilly summer night. Flaggers point to spots where drivers need to park. Engines shut off. Murmurs of excitement escape lips. Fire extinguishers strategically placed; spots of red in a lake of mud. A chain-link fence provides protection. Announcement made and heavyweight drivers follow: engines roar to life. Deafening. 5-4-3-2-1! The derby begins. Rubber tires spit up mud as traction is nil. Vehicles smashed. Havoc wreaked. Screams of delight from onlookers. Slowly, surrender sticks are broken in two. The heat is over. Next up: imports.

Nissans. Hondas. Toyotas. Fast. Furious. Loud tailpipes. As quickly as it begins, it ends. Checkered flag. Trophies handed out to places third, second, and first.


The masses make their way to waiting mobile restrooms. The last heat begins soon: hard luck and the final mixed as one. Smoke rises. Flames flash. Arena lights illuminate. Last car running. Another checkered flag. Winner.

One more crushed car coliseum comes to a close.

1 comment

  • A nice time was had by all. Varoom!!!

    debbie granat

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