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Published on September 5th, 2013 | by DDL HQ0
DAY OF THE DERBY – As I get out of bed…
By Scott Coho
4:30 AM – As I get out of bed and head for the bathroom it hits me… it’s derby day! After all of the days of planning, stripping, building, and painting it is time for tonight 15 minutes of fame. The day has finally come.
5:15 AM – I look down at my skinned-up knuckles as I shovel in my favorite cereal and go over my checklist of things I must do and items I must bring with me today.
6:00 AM – I step out the door and share a quick moment with my derby car Lucil. “Don’t let me down today”, I tell her as I go over each vulnerable part. I double-check the engine, tires, electrical system, and batteries. “This is our day”, I whisper while topping off the radiator with water.
10 AM – By the time I finish hooking up the trailer and loading the car, the morning is almost over and it is already 70 degrees outside. Now at this point of the day my nerves are on number 5 on the pre-derby 1 to 10 scales. This level is moderate to mild. Symptoms include mind racing, and occasional bathroom breaks)
12:00 PM – The last items are loaded into the truck and I am on the road, derby bound. After a quick pit stop for gas and lunch at the local gas station, we should be at the fair grounds in about one and a half hours. My nerves have now climbed to a steady 6. Past symptoms still exist, but now with more frequent bathroom stops.
1:00 PM – While driving it crosses my mind that I am forgetting something…my crew chief Chris! Chris is the man who single handedly got me into demolition derby, and the only Pittsburgh native I know who has a southern accent and has a nickname of “Cowboy”.
1:30 PM – We arrive at our destination before we know it and find out we are the third team there. After unloading my 3,000-pound pride and joy, I decide to get the dreaded car inspection done. This turned out to be a bad idea because not only were the inspectors more perceptive, but they also had plenty of time to look over my car since it was the only one in line! These guys were so far under the cars rear end that it seemed to be nothing short of a mechanics version of a colonoscopy.
4:00 PM – It is now 93 degrees outside as I sit on a lawn chair in the center of my car trailer. I usually take this time to talk to other drivers and to size up the competition as I watch the other cars enter the pit grounds. Two more hours until derby time, and from this point on my nerves idle at a constant 7. There are no longer any bathroom breaks due to dehydration, but my mind wanders, and I experience slight agitation.
5:40 PM – Drivers meeting in five minutes come over the loud speaker! The meeting goes as expected with us being told the rules, and someone complaining because Billy-Bob’s Chevy wagon looks to be one inch higher than his own car. Just the same old topics, at the same old fairgrounds, but enough talk, it’s time to derby.
6:00 PM – I sit in my car waiting for our row to enter the arena, and I go over my driving strategy I my head. Then I hear it…. the car in front of me starts his engine. I flip my toggle switch on and press my starter button. My car’s engine comes to life, 350 cubic inches of derbified V-8. After a quick visual of my battery, electrical system, and gauges I roll my car out onto the track. I can hear the crowd cheer as they get their first look of my flamed station wagon. With the help of the track officials, we get our cars lined up on opposite ends of the arena. After the last car is in place, the area gets sealed off with a few large pay loader tires. I clinch my left hand tight around the steering wheel and place the car in reverse with my right. The I hear it….5, 4, 3, 2, 1..GO! I punch the gas and immediately slam my brakes, and this leaves the front end of a cavalier wide open. So I proceed to hit the gas and completely pulverize the front of the vulnerable cavalier. My nervousness is a thing of the past as I continue to give and take bone-jarring, metal crunching hits. I do a quick scan of the cars to see how many remain and notice that there are only five counting myself. (only the four remaining cars can go onto the final heat) I no more then finish this thought as I take a hard hit to the front clip of my car! My car is still running, but at a low idle. I press the gas, and nothing happens, my throttle cable has broken! It has come to an end as quick as it began. I decide to cut my losses and break my stick because there is always another derby.