Maple Creek is set to hold its first ever demolition derby on Aug. 13. Dubbed “The Maple Creek Massacre,” the event is being organized by local driver Bill deRepentigny, a long-time participant in demolition derbies.
“I did my first one in Yorkton when I was 18,” deRepentigny told the News-Times over the phone. “When I first got in the car, I thought it was the craziest thing – I almost chickened out.”
“We moved [to Maple Creek] about two years ago, and we were building a car for the Coaldale derby, and there was so much interest I thought maybe we should do a show here.”
According to deRepentigny, Maple Creek residents were very enthusiastic about the idea, and he quickly had a handful of veteran and prospective drivers signed up, as well as plenty of local sponsorship for the event.
The event, to be held at the Maple Creek Rodeo Grounds, will feature beer gardens, monster truck rides in the “Rabid Rabbit,” and of course the derby itself. DeRepentigny is also hoping to organize a parade of derby cars through town prior to the event.
Driving in a demolition derby requires more mechanical knowledge than driver skill, explains deRepentigny. “I’d say it’s about 50 per cent mechanical, 20 per cent driving, and the rest luck,” he says with a laugh.
After a car is selected (often a robust full-size Chevy made in the mid ’70s), the driver and team must strip the car of all glass and trim, leaving just the shell intact. The battery and fuel tank are moved to the passenger compartment, and several structural reinforcements are added. Some competitors run Bobcat tires on their cars, and others make significant investment into their engines in the name of higher horsepower and low-speed torque.
“You learn a lot of the safety aspects that the manufacturer puts in,” says deRepentigny, “and you have to use those to your advantage.”
Drivers will often study crumpel zones on their vehicle in detail, so they know which areas to reinforce and which areas can best take an impact.
“A lot of strategy goes into it, depending on the car you have,” deRepentigny explains.
Contrary to what most people believe, the last car running is not necessarily the winner of the derby. That title goes to the last car to make a successful hit.
The Maple Creek derby will use the common 90-second rule, which requires drivers to complete a hit every 90 seconds or face disqualification. As long as a driver can start their engine and ram somebody every 90 seconds, they are still in the running.
The derby will also be making use of the 2-fire and 2-rollover rules, which stipulate that proceedings will be stopped to extinguish a burning car or return it to its wheels, but a second fire or rollover results in disqualification. This is to keep the derby fast-paced, with minimal delays. In order to keep the dust to a minimum and help driver and spectator visibility, the dirt arena will be wetted prior to the event.
Although the primary goal is to have fun, a combination of long-standing rivalries and significant prize money mean that derby drivers can get “very competitive.”
This year, the winner will take home $2,000, and deRepentigny is hoping to double that amount for next year.
In addition to the prize money, some drivers see the derby as a chance to settle old scores.
“We have on guy from Calgary coming down, Jerry Kultgen,” says deRepegnity. “I put a show on in Medicine Hat in 2001, and we were derbying together there, and I rolled him. The second time I hit him I got him on the roof of my car and was kinda piggybacking him around the ring, so he’s coming to Maple Creek probably looking for some revenge.”
Advance tickets ($10 for adults) are available at Cypress Motors, Murray Chevrolet Buick GMC, Sonny’s Auto Body or Magnum Workwear. Ticket information, as well as sponsorship and contact details can be accessed through the event’s website at maplecreekdemolitionderby.com.