The OC Fair hosted the 9th annual “Orange Crush” Demolition Derby, where 14 cars violently smashed into each other until only one remained standing. From classic muscle cars to old station wagons, the dirt track was a battlefield as cars crunched and crashed into each other on purpose.
After the National Anthem, all cars drove out to the track for the “Best Appearing Car” contest. Vehicles that stood out included car 6 containing a bull on its hood, car 59 painted bright green and flame adorned car 3, to name a few. Taking the win was a metal-head white car scribbled with “Pantera” and “Slayer” band names.
After the appearance contest, hundreds of fans, some on bleachers under the blazing sun, waited in anticipation for the Demolition Derby to begin. During the slight delay, impatient beer guzzling fans screamed for the show to begin.
The rules of the derby were simple. Drivers had to hit another vehicle every two minutes otherwise they’d be disqualified. Additionally, crashing into a driver’s door was prohibited. As a safety measure, a yellow flag was placed on top of each car and if the driver’s vehicle was disabled, the flag was to be taken down. If the car was on fire, the driver had to wave the flag and a blow horn would go off signaling fire fighters to put out any flames.
Finally, the show was underway and 14 cars lined up on the track divided in two rows. Once drivers were given the go ahead, they sped into each other repeatedly in an effort to immobilize rival vehicles.
Engines roared loudly as cars crunched into each other in reverse. Some drivers crashed so hard that station wagons ended up looking like compact cars and through all the excitement, cars 11 and 3 caught fire.
The potent smell of car fumes intensified as time went on and when cars lost their tires and bumpers, the crowd cheered in excitement. As vehicles became more mangled, the louder the audience grew. The show continued until all but one vehicle was deemed inoperable.
A number of derby drivers reveling in the event included quadriplegic Ryan Nichols driving car 3 and 18-year-old female driver Christine Thiebert in car 14. Thiebert was the only female driver to compete in the “Orange Crush” Derby and joining her on the track was her father, Bill Thiebert in car 48.
After an hour of full-throttle wreckage, the lucky $2,200 grand prize went to Joe Myers, a Napoleon, Ohio native. Myers first took interest in the sport in 1985 when he was 17-years-old. Meyers said he hid his first Demolition Derby car from his mom and today, she’s his biggest fan. The 90-time winner has competed in 10 states and parts of Canada using his favorite vehicle, the ’76 Chevy wagon, pictured below (car 20).
When asked what inspired him to join the Demolition Derby sport, Myers said, “In Ohio, derby is the biggest event. We’d have 100 cars per night after the rodeos and they’d call us the ‘Steel Cowboys.'”
Although Demolition Derby is entertaining to watch, Meyers explained that it is a dying sport. “The sport has changed a lot. We now spend $500 to $1,000 on a car and the cars we use are becoming extinct. It’s becoming an expensive hobby, but I do it for fun.”
For those looking to join in on Demolition Derby fun, Meyers warns, “The sport is exhilarating and fun, but unfortunately, it’s costly.”
All photos are courtesy of Steven Buena. For more photos, please visit http://www.stevenbuena.com
Make sure you check out the OC Fair before it ends on August 9th. Doors open at noon and close at midnight.
88 Fair Drive
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Tickets prices are as follows:
Single-Day Admission: Adults $10, Seniors (60+) $7, Children (6-12) $5, and Children 5 & under admitted free every day.
Parking: General $5, Preferred $10.