So What Took You Out?

At the end of the night there can only be one winner. Unlike in racing where winning just means by an inch or a mile one car finished ahead of the other cars, winning in demolition derby means that every other car out there on the track was stopped by some means. In other words, every time you don’t win, something took you out. In my mind there is three simple categories to which these failures can be classified.

  1. Preventable Mechanical Failures – These are failures in the car set up / driveline that could have been prevented with the right attention to detail. These are the worst kind of failures(because they were preventable), and are the hard lessons in car building.
  2. Non Preventable Mechanical Failures – It is a derby! Some times the car will belly and get stuck, get flat tires and get stuck, lose steering, etc. These are the ones that are not preventable but I do everything in my power to prevent if I can by running to the max of the rules of what is allowed in the class.
  3. Driving – When asked what took you out, no one ever says “My driving,” but if you got caught too close to the berm and pushed out with a mobile car, sorry to say you are just as responsible as the guy who put you there. To another extent if you start out as the mad dog and run out of car before the money, then driving is again a factor that took you out.

Much like rules for building a car, there is gray areas between categories or in some cases all three categories may apply. You could also argue that driving has preventable and non preventable aspects, but it fits well in my mind to keep driving all together in its own category. The key is to be honest with yourself, in a focused attempt to make your next car and derby better than the last one. Even bringing home the winning car does not mean there is not an opportunity to learn and see what the car is telling you to fix. If I had been smart I would have kept a notebook or photo album of all the cars my brothers, dad, or I have ran since 2008, but who is ever that organized… So now I’m going by memory and photos to try and remember most of the shows ran and what took that car/driver out. I did not drive in most of these derbies, I’ll * all the ones I personally drove in. Perhaps since this will be ongoing I will dedicate a separate page to this in the future and I can fill in some gaps. Right now I have most of 2008-2012 documented to the best of my memory, with a lot more preventable failures than I care to admit.


  • 84? Citation, Blue Rapids, KS – pinched gas line coming out of tank (P)
  • 84? Citation, Ellsworth, KS – broke CV shaft, beat on by a loaded Corsica, rear end went down and caved rear pillars. (NP) 4th


  • 66? Plymouth Belvedere, B-Body Mopar. Bent behind seat bar, bellied under doors, 2 flat rear tires was the killer. Still managed a 4th place finish, but car was cooked after one show. (P)/(NP) 4th


  • *73 Impala, Minneapolis, KS – Flat Tires, no power (stock 283) stuck in middle of track (P)
  • 68? Fury, Minneapolis, KS – Slant six power broke motor mounts, hole in oil pan, fan through radiator, 2 on 1 at end, (P)/(NP) 3rd or 4th out of 8 I think.
  • 68? Fury, Beloit, KS – old copper radiator disintegrated during heat, no spare. Went into feature with a rag stuffed in hole in radiator. Slant six kept running with strategic shutdowns and started back up all the way the 2nd place. (P)/(NP) 2nd
  • 73 Impala, Clyde, KS – Rear frame rusty to start with, dumped hard in front of humps and bellied, No GTPs yet. (NP)
  • *68? Fury, Clyde, KS – Broke steering column, driveshaft yoke pushed hard into transmission output shaft, broke end of yoke open and lost fluid til stopped moving in consi. In the heat battery terminal (bolt style) came loose and started arcing. Driving this car felt like a punching bag, but was a lot of fun for as long as it kept moving. (P)


  • Revived 76 Impala, Linn, KS – rear end control arms broke, no slider, lost drive shaft. Rear end about fell out when picked up to load on trailer. (P)
  • 70? Newport CLEAN, Minneapolis, KS – Wish we could have this one back for a do over, never got full potential out of this car. Big (P) goes to dad for putting water in a gas jug. Yes, this one got fed at least 2 gallons of water in 8 gallon fuel cell before realizing what had happened. Ran bad for feature, was outnumbered by a couple cars, shoved in dirt. (P)
  • *Revived 76 Impala, Minneapolis, KS – Backed over a loose wheel in middle of track (not mine) in feature and high centered, very frustrating, noticed after derby core support had caved and taken out radiator inlet connection. (D)
  • 70? Newport, Salina, KS – transmission yoke pushed hard into th350 transmission and snapped something in transmission, it no go no mo. 1st slider bought after this derby. (P)
  • 70? Newport, Beloit , KS – ?
  • *70? Newport, Concordia, KS – Another old radiator… had to replace it even before the heat, made feature, bellied and stuck, car was used up. I remember plug wires coming loose on this run and seeing them arcing around through the firewall as well. (NP)


  • *71 Buick Centurion, Minneapolis, KS – Can’t remember why it got hot, lost belt? (P) 2nd
  • 80 LTD Crown Victoria, Stockton, KS – First ford build, started to go down in front of a-arms, also got hot at the end and pounded into dirt. (P)/(NP) 2nd
  • 80 LTD Crown Victoria, Beloit, KS – 8-3/4 axle bearing busted, front end went down more. One of those cars that probably wasn’t worth running again except for fun (NP)
  • 80s ford, Abilene, KS – Fresh build for championship, 8-3/4 axle slid out of housing, not supposed to happen! (NP)

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