Trucks Needed For Demolition Derby

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Nelson Beck has answered the clamor of Rim Country demolition derby fans to add a "local trucks only" division to the second annual event.

The only problem is, interest in it has been limited.

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The 2007 Payson demolition derby will be held at 1:30 p.m. Sept. 9 in the Payson Event Center.

"We haven't had that many entry packets go out," Beck said. "And last year, it (a local trucks only division) was one of the things people said they wanted us to have."

Beck, the Town of Payson Parks Manager, spearheaded the move last year to include a demolition derby in the Northern Gila County Fair.

The competition was an overwhelming success with more than 2,000 fans filling the Payson Event Center stands to watch Payson's first-ever event.

For drivers and spectators alive, it was metal-crunching, bone-jarring, crashing, smashing action at it's best.

"It was a lot of fun and action, wasn't it," Beck asked.

In an effort to make the derby even more driver- and spectator-friendly, Beck and promoter Honeycutt Rodeo, scoured Web sites around the country to learn more about truck-only events.

After months of research, they agreed on format and rules for the Payson competition, which Beck promises "will be unique, maybe the first in the state."

But for the event to be a smashing success, more entries are needed.

"There is still time to build a truck and make it competitive," Beck said.

The competition will be held at 1:30 p.m. Sept. 9 in Payson Event Center.

Also on the agenda will the main derby, open to entrants from around the state, and a Powder Puff division.

The main derby will feature $1,000 in added money but the locals only truck division will award prize money only from entry fees and $20 per truck added money. Local drivers must live within a 40-mile radius of Payson.

There is no added money to the powder puff division and the jackpot will be paid out of entry fees. Trophies are also awarded in all three divisions.

The entry fees into the main and truck derbies is $40 until Aug. 24. After that date, it increases to $60.

The powder puff fee is $20, which can be paid on the day of the event at the gate.

Beck stress that if a driver has a car entered in the main derby and it is drivable at the conclusion of the competition, a spouse, friend or significant other may enter it in the power puff event.

What is a demolition derby?

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A Payson demolition derby team carries the colors into the Payson Event Center arena during the running of the inaugural event last fall at the Northern Gila County Fair.

For those unfamiliar with demolition derbies, Beck says the rules vary from event to event, but the typical derby consist of 10 or more drivers competing by deliberately ramming their vehicles into one another.

The last driver whose vehicle still runs is declared the victor.

Opinions differ on the origin of the sport but a popular version is the first derby was held in Long Island, N.Y. in the late 1950s.

The sport grew in popularity throughout the 1960s, especially at county fairs and festivals throughout rural America.

In the 1970s, ABC's "Wide World of Sports" broadcast several demolition derbies and in the sitcom "Happy Days," the character Pinky Tuscadero, a love interest of the one of the main characters, Fonzie, was a demolition derby driver.

Probably the most renowned derby occurred in 1972 in the Los Angeles Coliseum. The nationally televised event drew Indianapolis 500 champions Parnelli Jones, Mario Andretti, A.J. Foyt and Bobby and Al Unser. During the derby, the drivers destroyed high-dollar new cars including a Rolls-Royce donated by Evel Knievel.

The most popular cars among demolition derby drivers, who usually are amateurs, are older full-sized American sedans, which can be purchased from junkyards and repaired.

Last year, local driver Brett Carnes maneuvered a huge four-door sedan throughout the competition that was won by Phoenix driver Steven Quills.

For the derby, all glass must be removed from the cars to make them safer. Also, deliberately ramming the driver's side door is a no-no. Drivers usually use the rear of the car to ram an opponent and protect their engines from damage.

Rules for the upcoming trucks competition will be different from the guidelines for cars.

"In trucks, the fuel cells have to be relocated at the center of the bed, be bolted down and have splash shields," Beck said.

Beck is unsure of what year or make trucks will be popular with Payson's adrenalin-crazed drivers but expects Chevrolet, Ford and Dodges to be featured.

"They can be up to 1 ton, but cannot be duallies (dual rear wheels)," he said. "Two or four-wheel drives are okay, but only one driveline, front or rear, can be used."

Also, maximum and minimum bumper height limits will be enforced.

As unique as the upcoming truck derby will be, there are other more bizarre versions held around the country and in England. Some of those include rollover competitions, figure-8 racing and using harvesters, lawn mowers and school buses.

The community of Lind, Wash. annually hosts a combine harvester demolition derby.

Copies of the rules regulations and entry forms for the Payson derby are available at the Parks and Recreation offices located at Green Valley Park. For more information, call Beck at (928) 474-5242, ext. 306.

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