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West Jordan Journal

Demolition derby steers autumn season in, towing busted metal out

Sep 18, 2018 02:30PM ● By Jana Klopsch

By Amy Green  |  a.green@mycityjournals.com 

On Sept. 8, the Western Stampede hosted the West Jordan Demolition Derby. Drivers and their mechanic support teams were ready to entertain and destroy at the West Jordan Arena 

Competitors spanned the map—from Utah cities and towns Ogden, Ephraim, Glendale, West Haven, Heber and Benson. Some even came as far as California, Pennsylvania and British Columbia to enter. The motorists lined up their rattletraps on wheels to square off. The arena was packed with excited guests. This year’s derby had the flying dirt and fearless spinouts one can depend on. 

The final note of “The Star-Spangled Banner” set off an electrified audience ovation. Cars rumbled and revved into the ring—every salvaged frame with its own personality. They each growled out smoke and exhaust trash talk. If spectators didn’t get an occasional glimpse of an adept driver inside, it could seem like the vehicles were alive, or in a remote control crash test. It made for some good dirt-kickin’ fun. 

Event fan Daniel Stoddard is a supporter of town happenings like this.

“Come out to these kinds of events,” he said. “They’re good for the cities, and they are a blast!” Stoddard was stoked for the loud engines and the crashing.

The audience took a liking to driver Brad Bowman and his green car, numbered 33. Families cheered and dubbed it just that—“the green car.” It was lime-colored, lean and mean, in the same knockabout condition as all the others. But it had a magnetism all its own. The car’s style and attitude instantly rallied spectators to its side. This green hunk car from Heber ignited some massive rounds of applause, winning the second heat.

The derby did not disappoint, with a class C shuttle storming in to help bump and shove. The animated bus with a giant missile lodged in its roof, helped to knock more dents in the piles of metal and really lit up kids’ faces. 

Jeff Dunlop was a driver who impressed, with one of the best show-stopper moves. He drove a pickup. It was the only truck to flip another truck 90 degrees over completely on its door. The tipped driver was quickly righted by safety officiators. With all cars re-centered over tires, the smashing continued. Dunlop shared a few reasons he gets behind the wheel. 

“It’s a stress reliever to show what you can do and to have fun bending some metal,” Dunlop said. He went on to explain how in some cases, after cars have been beaten up and patched over with parts, the junkers get stronger moving on to the next demolition competition. 

Jeff Tenney of South Jordan showed up to have a great time, and he did. It was also his birthday.

“We thought it would be a good way (to celebrate) and to see them smash all up,” he said.” He liked the idea of a demolition derby to cap off his special day and showed up with a lighthearted smile. Tenney made a good point about the amusing destruction. “All the future work the body and fender guys have … who’ll get to repair them,” he added. 

Although it may seem easy to kick up soil and spin the heavy tread, there is strategy and skill at the heart of it. The drivers take many safety precautions. They have mindful skill and follow strict rules set in steel for a derby meet. It can be interesting to learn about the regulations of competing in a demolition contest. 

Nine cars limped back into the final heat, including two crusading “Trump” cars from California. By the end of the night, one had a hot glowing gear box, shooting out sparks. Finally, there were a few last engines hanging on, pounding and sputtering until the end. One of the “Trumps,” and the red car “21,” split the cash prize. They were urged by the announcer to “flip” a coin for the trophy. 

Those lucky to have a ticket this year were able to see a shared victory. It was another successful West Jordan event, bringing autumn fever in with a total axle-twisting adrenaline rush. 

For next year’s Western Stampede demolition derby information, keep steady hands on 10 and 2, and eyes on westernstampede.com.