Behind Demolition Derby’s Zany Driver, A Fearless Mom

Crashes and flames create heart-stopping drama at Demolition Derby. But can you really have fun if your daughter's in the driver's seat?

Fearless zaniness is a must for any Demolition Derby car driver.

For the mother of a demolition derby driver, you need to throw in a whole lot of patience, tolerance, grace, and love into the mix.

At the first crash of a rusty old vehicle trying to force its opponents to surrender, I couldn’t help but yelp and cover the eyes of my seven-year-old daughter. This was the first derby for both of us, and while we had been expecting some bangs and clashes, we weren’t fully prepared for the sheer noise and commotion on the field.

But behind me sat the mother of one of the two female drivers of the day, and she was taking it all in stride.

“It’s a good way to send off the car,” Ashley’s mom said as we waited for her daughter’s car to rumble into the grandstand. The little Honda had served her since high school, accompanying her to college and now literally awaiting death.

This was Ashley’s second competition to date, and her mother wasn’t going to miss the spectacle for the world. But while I would have either screeched to egg my kid on to destroy the other cars, or wept from sheer fright for her safety, Ashley’s mom couldn’t have taken it all in more calmly.

Ashley’s pink and grey-striped car started off strong, but soon enough, her vehicle was caught in the middle of rivals that kept pummeling her from the front, back, and passenger side. (Demolition rules dictate that cars are not allowed to crash from the driver’s side.)  Five minutes into the battle, smoke started coming out from under the hood and Number 74 soon grounded to a halt.

Mom didn’t breathe a sigh of relief, nor did she boo the winner of the heat several minutes later.

Instead, she simply exclaimed, “well, there goes that car! Buh-bye!”

The show went on after Ashely climbed out of her car and the Honda full of memories was towed away from the arena.

Car after car clashed with one another, and cheers resonated across the grandstand when flames sparked out of one hood and the fire brigade was called into action.

But as all eyes focused on the unveiling action in front, Ashley’s mom had no eyes but for her daughter.

“Look, she’s getting all sentimental and taking pictures,” she said, pointing to a young woman with long blonde hair taking photos of a squashed pink wreck of a car pushed to the sidelines of the arena.


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