Demo derby preparation nearly complete
Preparations for the August 4, Mobridge demolition derby are well under way with just more than two weeks left until the big day when nearly 1,500 people are expected to come out to the rodeo grounds to watch one of the best demo derbys in the area.
This year, 32 cars have entered into the team format class and more are expected to register the day of the derby for the limited class. That means more than 40 drivers will compete for about $10,000 in prizes.
“We have the most cars of almost any derby in the state,” said derby driver Derrick Orth.
The derby is the only team derby outside Mandan, N.D. for more than 500 miles. Orth said a team derby is often more exciting than individual free-for-alls because of the work the teams put into their cars. The four members of a derby team may each put 100 or more hours into their cars. Orth said driving in a demo derby is as simple, or as complicated, as a driver wants it to be.
Some derbies allow only spot welds to a car’s frame and limited upgrades to a car’s power train. Mobridge allows drivers to make advanced welds, both to protect the driver and increase a car’s durability, and soup up their undercarriage as much as they want.
Drivers who have caught the derby bug will strip down a car of all its essential parts, re route its gas tank and battery, and replace stock parts like the front and rear bumpers and drive shaft with solid steel upgrades.
The in depth nature of some of these upgrades is the reason Mobridge has two classes of cars, limited and advanced. A limited derby car is stripped of all it’s unnecessary parts like windows and seats, and has its doors welded shut but is essentially running stock. A limited derby car will be entered the day of the race and Orth said there is still time to go out and find a car for the limited classes.
As for rules of the derby, they are fairly simple. A driver may not hit a flipped car, a drivers same-side door and must make contact every two minutes. The derby is run in heats for the four teams entered. In each heat, eight cars will drive out into the arena, and the last car running rolls back to the pit with the win for the team. After the first heat is where it gets interesting for the teams. They have just under two hours to repair whatever damage was done to their cars before they have to compete again. Whoever is left running is left to compete. Drivers make some serious repairs in some seriously small amounts of time. Orth said he brings every part to the derby as a backup except the engine and has replaced fenders, steering columns, transmissions, tires, and about any other moving part on a car before rolling it out to the ring.
There will be a raffle to support Gordie Hoisington and his family. Gordie is a demo derby driver who fell from a ladder and is now paralyzed. The funds raised from the raffle go entirely to support his continuing care. Three tickets can be purchased for $20 and the winner competes in the limited class derby in the raffle car.
“Every year,” said Orth, “Drivers come down from North Dakota or Wyoming to buy tickets to get a chance to drive the raffel car.”
The day of August 4, the pits open at 10:30 a.m. with the front gate opening at 4 p.m. Admission at the gate is $8 for adults and $2 for kids, tickets to the back gate pit are $20.