As part of my education on American things my friends took me to the Big Butler Fair. I’ve been to fairs before but we weren’t there to see the ferris wheel or the the dodgems. We went to see a school bus demolition derby. I had heard the phrase “demolition derby” but I wasn’t sure what it meant. I knew it would involve destroying something but it never occurred to me that this would be the destruction of vehicles that people were driving.
It was a strange experience. Someone had mentioned heats so I thought that maybe 2 buses would compete at a time. I was wrong. There were two heats of 5 buses and then a final. I still don’t know what the point of the heats was. Maybe it was to try to eliminate some of the competition but all 10 buses were allowed through to the final. (One bus broke down right at the start so only 9 buses actually competed.) To win the competition you had to be the last bus running. At the start it was quite tame. The vehicles reversed into each other and slowed down if it looked like they would come close to the front of another bus. But by the end it was viscious. The rule about not crashing into the driver disappeared with the thrill of smashing up someone else’s engine. What better way to stop a bus than hit it until the engine goes on fire?
There was something fascinating about the whole thing but the destruction and the possibility of the driver getting hurt made me feel a bit strange. But it was certainly a memorable way to end the 4th July weekend.