Meet the husband and wife team who saved the Summit County Demolition Derby
Back in 2001, Clay Stuart was booed out of the arena after winning the demolition derby in Coalville as part of the Summit County Fair.
The way his wife Mindi told it, the people of Summit County didn’t take too kindly to some young guy and his brother coming up from Morgan to take first and second place in their hometown demolition derby.
“Oh wow, Clay was not liked at all to begin with,” Mindi said while laughing. “We – I’m from Summit County – didn’t like out-of-towners coming here and winning our competition. People were not happy about it and they literally booed him out of town back then.”
Nowadays, Clay and Mindi are considered saviors among those involved in the Coalville demolition derby scene, having taken over as its promoters in 2012. The demolition derby, considered one of the premiere events of the fair by locals, was falling apart and came close to canceling when the promoter decided he was done.
“For the longest time they were asking us to promote the derby but we kept saying ‘no,’” Clay said. “They refused to take that for an answer and that was probably for the best because here we are now.”
The Stuarts have helped change the face of the derby in their time promoting it.
In 2011, the derby had 12 cars competing, with people wanting to attend able to walk up the day of the competition and purchase tickets. Fast forward to the present, and the derby was got three-quarters of the way to sold-out on the first day tickets became available on May 1 before selling out for good in June. A sellout crowd was able to watch more than 40 cars participate in four different classes, totaling seven different competitions.
With the help of sponsors primarily from Mindi’s side of the family, the total payout for the four winners in the different classes consisted of over $30,000.
Taking first place in the stock class division was Cameron Lewis, winning $6,000, while second and third place went to Zach Dompier and JC Walsh, taking home $4,000 and $2,000 in prize money, respectively.
The stock class, considered the prime competition of the derby, took place in the first two events in the night with the top three winners from each competition advancing to the finals at the conclusion of the event. The losers then faced off in a grudge match with the top three advancing to the finals, setting up a crashing good time for the finale.
Other winners included TJ McPhie in the Iron Class, Chad Andrews in the Mini Class and brothers Spencer and Briar Proctor taking first and second respectively in the Truck Class.
For the Stuart’s, the demolition derby is more than just wrecking cars into others; it’s a way of life shared with their family.
With Clay, participating in derbies is something he’s done since he was 15 years old, quickly making a name for himself when he and his brother started competing in their hometown of Henefer. Since those days, Clay, 40, still competes in derbies, earning over $36,000,last year, but he takes on a much different role at the county fair.
“The adrenaline rush definitely keeps me coming back for more. … The fact that you get to go out there and crash other cars, it’s the best,” Clay said. “Now I get to take part in another portion of the derby apart from riding and to be honest, I really like it. I’ll probably keep doing it for a long time.”
Likewise, Mindi grew up going to the Summit County Fair’s derby, wanting the same thing for her four kids as she had as a child. Braxten, 19, Jordyn, 14, Kambryn, 11, and Talon, 8, have all fallen in love with the derby as much as their parents have.
“It (the fair and derby) was always something fun to look forward to in the summer and luckily, our kids have taken to it as much as we have,” Mindi said. “Now, some of the kids will compete but the all of them are amazing. They help put up banners, help clean up and just get things done. … They’re all grown to love it more and more the older they’ve gotten.”
Mindi’s dad Brett, and brother Riley are also involved in the demolition derby as sponsors. Brett owns Extreme Excavating and Landscaping in Salt Lake City while Riley owns Double R Construction in Park City, both of which help with multiple aspects of the derby. Also participating as sponsors are Big Canyon Homes in Coalville and Primo Builder in Wanship, the in-laws of Mindi’s sister Jaci Berman, truly making the derby a family affair for the Stuarts.
“All of our sponsors are either friends or family. They all love the derby just as much as we do so having a great support system is the key to a good derby,” Mindi said. “The derby is a family in itself, all part of a huge extended family who make it all happen. When other places ask how we do it, I tell them that they have to become part of the family.”
An earlier version of this story misstated the name of the third-place finisher in the stock class. His name is JC Walsh, not ZC Walsh.
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Over the last 12 years, the National Ability Center has funded organized and hosted the Summit Challenge, a bike ride for participants of all abilities.