A smashing good time
Bad luck, unexpected survival and an eventual victor: The 2013 Demolition Derby, held Aug. 2 at Fairgrounds Speedway, had it all. I present to you three drivers and their stories. I present to you one of the year’s most unforgettable sporting events.
Cortez resident Jim Griffin knows all about cars. A mainstay at local stock car races, he is also quite familiar with Fairgrounds Speedway. Before this year, however, Griffin had never competed in a demolition derby. To say that he relished the opportunity would be an understatement.
“I’ve been a derby judge for the last seven years,” explained a visibly excited Griffin. “Finally, this year, I’m getting to drive. A buddy gave me this 1978 Oldsmobile Cutlass. I’m going to hit cars and do my best not to get hit.”
Throughout beginning moments of his preliminary heat, Griffin accomplished his goal. Piloting his bright red Oldsmobile as only a veteran stock-car driver could, Griffin delivered some big shots while mostly avoiding damage to his front end.
Then, disaster struck. As Griffin circled to the edge of the arena in order to pick up the necessary speed to deliver a crushing blow, his engine stalled. Fellow drivers, picking up on their adversary’s plight, quickly swarmed Griffin and pushed him out of bounds. Once out of bounds, Griffin was disqualified from the heat.
With his car sat relatively undamaged outside the arena’s confines, Griffin could only watch and wonder what might have been. Definitely a night of bad luck for the local driver, but that’s the way things go sometimes. Once derby mayhem begins, any semblance of predictability vanishes.
Sporting a colorful name and driving a 1973 Cadillac that had seen better times, the driver known only as “The Trash Man” managed to survive against all odds.
“I’m just here to have a good time,” explained the very talkative Trash Man. “These other drivers, they are celebrities. I’m just a regular guy.”
During the first preliminary heat, the front end of the Trash Man’s car was immediately damaged and began spewing steam. Somehow, The Cadillac continued running, however, and carried the Trash Man to the second-round “grudge match.”
During the grudge match, the Trash Man again beat all odds and came away victorious. Luck finally ran out in the final round, however, when the Trash Man’s engine failed.
Peering out from behind a curtain of steam, this year’s derby survivor couldn’t help but chuckle. The Trash Man had outlasted many of the celebrities. “The Trash Man” had, himself, become a derby celebrity.
While cars around him sputtered, Ray Ainge just kept driving. Time and time again, Ainge smashed his 1983 Chevrolet Capri into oncoming vehicles, and time and time again, Ainge came away relatively unscathed.
As all of his competitors sat in smoking cars beside him, Ainge climbed to the hood of his car, celebrated victory, and planned what to do with the $2,500 winner’s prize.
“I came to bang hard,” said Ainge. “I’m from Utah so I wanted to come and put a hurtin’ on the Cortez boys. That was the plan from the beginning and my car held up well.”
At the end of the night, the mayhem complete, drivers and spectators stood side-by-side talking. Undoubtedly rehashing the night’s events, all looked pleased. While the cars will soon be forgotten, abandoned to rot in junkyards, the memories will live on. The 2013 Demolition Derby was truly an exciting event.