Wrecks on wheels

The last car running

By TED WADDELL
Posted 12/2/20

KAUNEONGA LAKE, NY — In a demolition derby, the champion is the last car running, a motorsports subculture-take on the old adage of a champion being “the last man standing.”

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Wrecks on wheels

The last car running

Posted

KAUNEONGA LAKE, NY — In a demolition derby, the champion is the last car running, a motorsports subculture-take on the old adage of a champion being “the last man standing.”

Back on September 20, Bethel Motor Speedway presented “Smash ‘Em Up,” a Spinning Wheels Productions demo derby at the local quarter-mile track.

According to motorsports lore, in 1946, West Coast racing promotor Don Basile staged what was billed as a “full-contact” race between four drivers at Carroll Speedway in Gardena, CA. This followed earlier events held during the Great Depression at rural race tracks and county fairs.

In 1950, rather murky historical records show that a used car dealer named “Crazy Jim” Groh staged a demolition derby in Franklin, WI.

Then in the late 1950s, stock car driver Larry Mendelsohn claimed credit for organizing and promoting the first true demolition derby on Long Island, NY.

As things moved along, demo derbies switched lanes, expanding from their dawning in the United States to automotive mayhem events in Canada, Australia and England. Crowds gleefully gathered to witness the spectacle of cars being reduced to steaming wrecks, watching radiators burst and bumpers ripped off during the heat of frenzied automotive combat.

In recent years, the sport has staged a comeback of sorts, as folks never seem to grow weary of wacky wrecks on wheels.

For more about this event, see www.bit.ly/RRdemo1 and www.bit.ly/RRdemo2.

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