Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Demolition Derby

The kid and I celebrated Independence Day by going to the Evergreen Speedway’s Snap-On Tools Demotion/Derby Fireworks Show.

What better way to commemorate our nation’s birthday than by watching cars demolish each other and then seeing shit blow up?

I had a snobby ironic attitude about the whole thing before we got there (it’s in Monroe, fer gawdsakes and bills itself as “the Northwest Center for NASCAR racing), and my suspicions seemed confirmed when, before the festivities began, the announcer led us in the Pledge of Allegiance, but you know what? I found the whole event really sweet, totally unpretentious, and a true expression of some of the best qualities of the American character.

Above all, I admired the DIY nature of the proceedings. It was all folks who get a kick out of working on, racing, and wrecking motorized vehicles. Sure, it was, as the kid put it, “stupid people doing stupid things,” but they were all doing them with such unvarnished affection you couldn’t help but love it.

The show began with a competition among the sixteen demo derby cars for best appearance, winner judged by applause from the crowd. “Battle Wagon, Jr.,” a beat-up and modified station wagon straight outta the Fremont Fair’s art car competition took first prize.

A number of races featuring small speedy cars followed; these were all about driving skills and little smashups.

The rollover competition was hilarious, featuring a gold lame Cadillac that skidded down the track on its roof and won by a guy who flipped his car a Speedway-record five times to thunderous applause.

Another highpoint was the figure-eight bus race; who doesn’t love seeing school busses plowing into each other?

And there was epic beauty to the sixteen-car demolition derby: surrounded by the metal carcasses of vanquished competitors, one beat-up 1983 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, smoke and steam pouring from its mighty engine still ran; the track lights went down and the fireworks began.

God bless America.


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