ORIGINALLY WRITTEN ERIC CLARK
This Saturday night 16-year-old Brodie Unrau and his father, Brian, will compete in the 30th Annual Marion County Demolition Derby.
Like many fans of the derby, Brodie has seen a lot of car-crushing events in his life, and, like several others, he has been bit by the demolition derby bug.
This year not only marks a milestone for the 30-year-old event, but it also marks the first time that Brodie is eligible to enter the derby with his parents’ consent.
Brodie and his father, a veteran driver in the event, have been looking forward to driving into the Hillsboro arena together for most of Brodie’s life.
The Unraus are one of a number of dad-and-son tandems that compete in the event annually.
“It’s pretty neat that (Brodie) wants to run in the derby,” Brian said. “I really wanted to run this year because Brodie was running, and it marks the 30th year of the derby.”
Said Brodie: “Dad’s been in it so long it’s been something I’ve grown up watching him do. I’ve wanted to do it for quite awhile, and I can’t wait until Saturday.”
Brian has competed in 23 of the 30 derbies out at the Marion County fairgrounds, but recently has become more excited about the event because of his two boys, who both are interested in the derby.
“I’ve missed a derby here and there, but I’ve tried to be in as many as possible,” Brian said. “We all worked on our cars together. I told them I wanted them there watching me when I work on them. I like them there learning the stuff, because before too long, they’ll be building their own cars.”
According to Brodie, the time spent with his dad and brother, Darcy, has been positive.
“It was kind of a bonding time for us,” Brodie said. “The whole family gets into it.”
The rookie driver said he’s excited about having the opportunity to run in the event.
“It looked like a lot of fun,” Brodie said. “I’ve been around cars all my life. I’m kind of one of the wild ones, who likes the danger. I probably get some of it from my dad. He’s kind of crazy like that. He’s getting kind of old, so he isn’t as crazy as he used to be, so somebody has to step in and fill the shoes.”
According to Brian and his son, wife and mother Danita isn’t worried about the event because she understands the length that her husband goes to to keep the cars safe.
“She doesn’t worry too much because Dad builds the cars, and she trusts him,” Brodie said. “So by Dad building the cars I think it puts her mind at ease.”
“She just tells me that whatever I do I have to make the cars safe,” Brian added. “And you have to make them safe. Nobody wants to sit there and watch a kid get burned, like a couple of years ago. We try and keep it as safe as possible.”
Brian, like other demo-vets, has been pushing the youth in the community to become involved in the event. He said he hopes to keep alive the excitement of the event.
“The Lonnie Hamms, the Brian Unraus and the Mike Duerksens of the derby, aren’t going to be able to drive forever,” Brian said. “We’re going to be out of it before you know it. I’m not saying we’ll be out next year or anything, but we’re not all going to run forever.”
Brodie, meanwhile, said he is looking forward to several years of competing in the derby as well as the chance of competing against some of the legendary local drivers.
“I’m going to try and be in as many derbies as I can,” Brodie said. “I just want to lay a hard hit on somebody.”
“That’s the name of the game,” Brian added. “People like to see hitting. I want to see Brodie go out there and do something. He’s in for a big surprise when he gets out there.
“If we’re in the same heat somehow, I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Brian added.
“His old man might have to put a lick on him.”