Sideline Slants

What single sporting event in Marion County draws the largest crowd?

It involves strategy, drama and collisions, but it’s not football. You also can rule out basketball, although collisions are becoming more common in that sport.

When it comes to Marion County sports, if I’m not mistaken, the biggest spectator draw is the annual demolition derby at the Marion County Fair. Year after year, the demo derby packs them in by the thousands.

So what does that say about us? Are we masochistic? Do we like destruction? The answers are a definite maybe.

Test your demolition derby knowledge by taking the following quiz. Except for the first question, all of the answers were taken from the Web site of the Internet Demolition Derby Association.

1. Where can you find a demolition derby this month?

a. Los Angeles freeway

b. Any Marion County road

c. Saturday, Aug. 11, at the Marion County Fair

d. All of the above

The correct answer is “c,” although a good case could be made for “a.”

2. Why do they wet the surface down?

a. Many promoters wet the surface down for basic insurance reasons to soften the impact on hits

b. To keep the dust from blowing in the spectators’ eyes

c. To remind people what mud looks like after a dry summer

d. To fill time between the heats

The correct answer is “a” although in some cases “b” and “c” might apply.

3. Why do the competitors drive backward?

a. Because they are Marion County drivers

b. Because that’s the way it has always been done

c. Because the most sensitive parts of cars lie in the front of the car -radiator, engine, steering, etc.

d. Because it’s more fun

Obviously, “c” is the best answer.

4. What vehicles are generally prohibited from competing in a demo derby?

a. Chrysler Imperials

b. Hearses

c. Limos and convertibles

d. All of the above

“D” is the right answer. Some promoters run station wagons separately. For whatever reason, the state of New Jersey will not allow wagons to compete. Pick-up truck derbies also are becoming more popular.

5. What are the best cars to enter in a demo derby?

a. Any car that you own, can’t sell and still runs

b. A Volkswagen

c. A Pinto

d. 1972-76 Chevrolet leaf spring wagons and the respective ’74-76 Chevy coupes and sedans

Once again “d” is the right answer. Cadillacs, Buicks and Oldsmobiles of the same vintages are also popular. Early to late ’70s full-sized Mopar products are popular. Full-sized GM products made from ’77-89 are plentiful, but not as popular. Many Ford Crown Victoria/Mercury Grand Marquis models do well, also.

6. Which of the following derby driving tips is bad advice?

a. He who hits hardest dies first. Remember, you’re not in a race, you’re in a marathon. Keep moving.

b. To calm your nerves, wear headphones and listen to your favorite music group. It’s also good to bring along a favorite snack for extra nourishment.

c. If you can’t avoid a front-end hit, at least try and square your front to the car hitting you, so the other driver can’t use a corner of his car.

d. Try to keep the front pointed away from traffic and avoid getting in a situation where you can get hit so you get stuck on a boundary.

The correct answer is “b.” “B” is good advice if you’re a mom or dad in the crowd who has a son or daughter in a demo derby.

* * *

If you answered all six correctly, you’re a demo derby dynamo. If you missed one, you’re a demo derby dynamo wannabe. If you missed two or more and you want to learn what it takes to become a demo derby dynamo, visit the Demolition Derby Association Web site at

P.S. As seen on the IDDA Web site: “We have a great deal to offer you if you’re interested in the act of intentional automotive destruction.”

P.S.S. The Web site also stated the following: “As long as there are cars, we’ll find a way to wreck them.”

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