By James Snell
The 45th annual Fernie Demolition Derby was a screaming success on Sunday. The event, organized by the Lions Club, was a fundraiser for local charities. Approximately 2000 people attended.
Under a hot September sun, the derby was a celebration of fossil fuel culture, tough men, and even tougher women – hell-bent on vehicular carnage and adrenaline.
Adjacent to the trout-filled river and serene alpine meadows, men with beards and cutting torches got to work between rounds, ripping apart crumpled body panels and scabbing-in radiators. The smell of exhaust, spray-paint, burning plastic, and beer rose like incense to the God of mountain culture.
The only indications of progressivismwere a bright pink Saturn Coupe, and an unrecognizable car called the Rainbow Warrior, piloted by “powder puff” Andi Ennis.
“I’ve had all the right friends for the last ten years,” she explained. “Forty-eight hours ago they said I could drive. I’m nervous because there are some big cars out there with big exhausts.”
Ted Shoesmith, President of Fernie Lions Club, was both event organizer and on-site referee.
Clad in a hardhat, reflective vest, and radio, he said, “This has been a charity event running in the valley since the sixties. I’ve been handling it since 2006-2007. I inherited this from my father.”
Shoesmith said that all the funds raised are directed to local charities, “to the needy and people who are hard-up.”
He added later, “This was our best year for fund raising.”
Joan Hedrich had a special reason for attending the derby.
“My son, Rick, passed away July 1 of this year. He had a stroke and was 45 years old,” she said. “He ran in the derby for around 20 years. He had anywhere from two to five vehicles entered. I miss him a lot, so we are here to remember him. His son in-law, Cody, has a truck here, number 89, in his memory.”
Piloting a twenty-foot vintage black Lincoln Continental stripped-down and armoured, Tara Sanders, Branch Manager at Lordco Auto Parts, was ecstatic about making it to the final round of the demolition derby.
“This is the first time I’ve been to the finals,” she said with smile. “We broke a ball-joint.”
Sanders was grateful for all the help she received.
“My boyfriend has done all the work on my car because I’m busy working.”
Sitting in the announcer booth was senior Lions Club member Rick Ganter.
“This derby means the people of Fernie are giving back a lot of money towards charity,” he explained.
“It goes to senior citizens and to kids…kids that need operations.”
Main Event first place – Cody Walker. Second place – Steve Charlton. Third place – Lyndon franzreb
Most aggressive – Clayton Wheeldon
Small car winner – Brendan Mcauley
Small car destruction award – Brendan Mcauley
Best dressed – Ryan Baufford
Truck winner – Derek Fedechko
Powder puff – Donna