Demolition derby big draw in Kamas
There is the rodeo. There is the concert in the park. There is the trap-shooting contest.
All of those events are well-attended favorites each July during Kamas Valley Fiesta Days, Summit County’s largest annual celebration of Pioneer Day weekend.
But to many residents of the area, the definite highlight of the weekend is the Demolition Derby, to be held this year on Saturday, July 26 at 7 p.m.
"I’ve had people call me in December to make sure they know when tickets go on sale," said Diane Atkinson, a Kamas councilwoman and chairwoman of Fiesta Days.
The reason is that every year, some time in May, tickets for the derby are put on sale, and they all sell out within 48 hours’ time.
The man in charge of running the derby is another councilmember, Kevan Todd, who grew up in Kamas. "The derby is the big show of Fiesta Day," he said. "I’ve had people call me in November and December who are working on their car for the next derby season.
He is in his third year running the derby, though he has a long history with it. "I remember as a kid going to the derby," Todd said. "They hit, and they hit hard."
First place — in other words, the only car left standing and running at the end — is worth $5,000, but it is apparent that money is not the point. After all, derby drivers spend, on average, from $7,000 to $10,000 on building their cars just so they can strut their stuff before being demolished. Todd said.
"Kamas has a pretty good reputation as a good, hard-hitting derby," he said. "It’s a crazy crowd that is totally pumped, excited."
There are many rules that apply to derbies so that the muddy event is safe and "all in all, no worse than going to Walmart on the weekend," Todd said. An extensive inspection of the 24 entries in this year’s competition begins at noon.
Among the rules are:
- "Any car will be disqualified if they catch on fire twice."
- "Ambulances and hearses are not allowed."
- "Do not hit the driver’s door! Sometimes this accidentally occurs, but if it looks intentional or careless you will be disqualified."
- "The rear sets and interior must be removed. Headlights, tail lights, tail lenses, chrome trim, door handles, license plate brackets, luggage racks, mud flaps, fiberglass, and trailer hitches must be removed prior to admittance into the arena."
- "Original fuel tanks must be removed and a fuel cell must be placed in the area behind the front seat inside the car."
"Tickets are only $15," Todd said. "People get their money’s worth. The drivers put on a show."
So, when do tickets for the 2015 derby go on sale?
Meredith Reed was elected to a two-year term as chair of the Summit County Democratic Party and said she sees an opportunity to ride the so-called blue wave that saw a Democratic surge nationally and within the state.