The last car moving is the winner. For its seemingly simple format, the demolition derby, part of the American rural subculture, provides participants with an opportunity to defy common sense, abandon caution and put themselves at odds with the laws of physics. It deliberately flaunts and celebrates the destruction of America’s 20th century symbol of mobility and status: the automobile.
I discovered Demolition Derby while pursuing my book project, Till the Cows Come Home: County Fair Portraits. What fascinated me, was that the people who participate spend over forty hours modifying the exhausts, engine, and customizing the cars interior and exterior to bring their car up to derby regulations. The derby also serves as a creative outlet for many drivers, who spend countless additional hours adorning their vehicles with everything from lovingly rendered illustrations to child-like graffiti and homespun sloganeering. In an odd way, the derby vehicle becomes a temporal work of art. Temporal because, in the end, each driver knows that the result of their efforts would mean only one thing: obliteration.
By dan nelken —
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