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August 16, 2012
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Demolition Derby

By Jared Curtis

Expect plenty of crashes during the Demolition Derby on Saturday, Aug. 18 at the Iowa State Fair Grandstand. The event kicks off at 11:30 a.m., and tickets are $12 for adults and $5 for kids ages 6-11 (5 and under are free). For more information, visit

PHOTO Courtesy of the Iowa STATE Fair

Car-crashing action takes over the grandstand

Although the many people head to the Iowa State Fair Grandstand to listen to their favorite musicians, it wouldn’t be a fair without some type of car smashing. The annual demolition derby has become a staple of the event, even though it disappeared for a while before the current incarnation was brought back in 2008.

“We used to offer some different racing events during the fair, but we decided to go back to the demolition derby because it was so popular,” said promoter Mick Trier. “It was the right move to bring it back because the crowd and the event has grown quite a bit bigger than it had been in the past.”

Trier believes the reason people love the event so much is because it’s something everyone can enjoy.

“Everyone, including kids, adults, men and women, love seeing cars crash into each other,” he laughed. “We also have a rollover contest (where the driver hits one side of a ramp causing the vehicle to roll over), which is also a big crowd pleaser.”

The derby attracts a wide range of drivers from all over the Midwest.

“We usually have drivers from about five different states,” Trier said. “But we also have a lot of local talent as well. County fairs are all over the state, and the majority of them have a demolition derby. So we get a lot of winners from county fairs that want to test their skills in front the grandstand fans.”

The event features two classes — large class and small class — offering drivers a variety of different vehicle styles to turn into a derby car. But the vehicles for one class are becoming tougher to find.

“The small class has become more popular because the cars are cheaper and there is less work to be done,” Trier said. “The bigger cars that are normally used are becoming harder to find and pricier.”

Each class features around 35 drivers, and the top prizewinner takes home $1,200. The top five finishers receive a trophies.

“The trophy means more than the cash to a lot of the drivers,” Trier said.

Anyone interested in competing can sign up for the event ($50), and you don’t have to be a county fair winner or champion derby driver to compete.

“We get a lot of new drivers every year, but there are still some guys who come out and compete each year,” Trier said. “A lot of the guys are competing in four or five derby events, but this will be the biggest crowd they’ll compete in front of.”

Even though the derby doesn’t draw as many people as a headlining concert, the event still packs them in.

“I think it helps that it’s early on a Saturday and people are already out here enjoying the day,” Trier said. “That’s the beauty of the Iowa State Fair; there is a variety of entertainment options, with lots of alternatives.”

Although there is plenty going on all over the fairgrounds, Trier believes the demolition derby is the event to see.

“It’s a fun, family-friendly event full of tradition. People can come out to the derby, then go experience the fair and make an entire day out of it,” he said. “It’s more than just a demolition derby; it’s an event.” CV

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