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Smash and Crash

October 20, 2006

It’s State Fair time here in North Carolina, and that means along with the rides, BBQ, funnel cake, and exhibits, it’s also time for the demolition derby.   About 4 years ago, my buddy’s son, Michael decided to enter the derby.   He found an old Ford Tempo sedan, and we stripped it down of all plastic and glass, welded up the doors, removed the hood and trunk latches, and safety wired them in place.  We removed the gas tank, and replaced it with a plastic boat fuel tank, strapped safely inside the car.    The only re-enforcement allowed, is a single bar in the driver’s door.   I had a large pile of salvaged warehouse storage racking, and we cut up one of the large box beams and used it to brace the door.   Mike didn’t fare so well his first year out, but gained a lot of experience.  The door held up just fine.  In subsequent years, he has entered with Buicks, Oldsmobiles, and this year a Pontiac, and has made it farther each time.

Every year, for several nights, over pizza, sodas, smokes and beer,  a half dozen of us grind, cut and weld together something designed to survive dozens of crashes and keep running – somehow.  This year, he’s running a grand Am, a model that we’ve seen win in previous years, and to which we’ve applied all the learnings from the last four years.   A rule change this year allows the passenger door to be beefed up as well – a good thing as his car last year wound up half it’s original width.    He competes in the first round tonight, and Leslie and I will be watching from the stands cheering him on.   His dad and I are talking about fielding cars ourselves next year if we’ve caught up on all our other projects.   

I’ll post again with the before and after pics – hopefully one in winners circle.

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