South Mountain Derby a “smashing” success

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The 131st South Mountain Fair took place last weekend, and the eagerness of Fair-goers showed that even after well over a century, some things just never get old. On opening day, August 17, a tradition that was cancelled last year made a “smashing” comeback – the Demolition Derby brought immense enthusiasm from the crowd. 

Fans started to pack into the stands over an hour before the Demolition Derby was set to begin. By about 6:30pm, the stands were “full” to the naked eye, but in traditional small town fashion, spectators were happy to slide over and make room for those who were late to arrive. A light drizzle of rain that began around 6:45pm turned into a full-blown downpour by 7pm when the Derby was slated to begin. A select few spectators ran for cover, but most stayed in their seats – nothing, not even a cold soaking of rain, could scare them off from such an anticipated event. 

By 7:15pm, the rain had stopped completely, and the Derby got underway. Four cars competed at a time in three separate heats, doing their best to deliver enough damage to render their opponents’ vehicles immobile. Drivers were surveyed prior to the event to determine if they wanted to potentially sacrifice their vehicle – should it win a round – for an end-of-event “finale”. A finale is exactly what the drivers wanted, and it’s therefore what fans were treated to.

The three surviving vehicles went “tail-to-tail” – so to speak – for a finale which at first lasted shorter than what fans were expecting. A forward hit from car #28 very nearly hit the driver’s side door of one of the two opponents. A driver’s side door hit is illegal in Derby competitions. The hit caused the two opponents’ cars to get hooked onto each other, rendering both unable to move, and securing the win for #28 at first glance. However, the fight wasn’t over. 

The damage done by the driver’s side hit was inspected to determine if the hit was too close to the driver’s door. Some “booing” was heard from the crowd, presumably a criticism of #28 for the potentially dangerous close call. Rather than ending the event with two immobile cars and a third car with a disqualified driver, the priority was shifted to the fans who came out to see a great show. The two immobile cars were separated, and all three cars went at it again after a few necessary repairs were made. 

A short contest followed, with #28 once again being the last car rolling. The massive crowd responded with a healthy mix of applause and boos. Last year’s Derby was cancelled due to a shortage of available used vehicles, so fans were surely thrilled to have a return of the event this year. 

Even for opening day, which is about half as long as the popular Friday and Saturday Fair days, the South Mountain Fairgrounds were absolutely packed on August 17. Lineups for rides were becoming so long that they were becoming blended with other lines. The food, drinks, and treats were flowing, music was playing, and smiles were everywhere. 

As expected, the Fair enjoyed packed crowds on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday as well – a tradition of 131 years that is sure to delight for many more decades to come. 

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