The Union Fair’s next Derby event is Thursday Aug. 21

Demolition Derby: It’s like bumper cars for grown ups

Tue, 08/19/2014 - 9:15am

UNION—Close to 30 cars were revving and raring to go for the Union Fair’s annual Demolition Derby event held this past Saturday night. Jaden Eaton, 19, from Union was one of the drivers, using his great grandmothers old beater, a Ford Contour, which his family was saving just for this event.

“It wasn’t going to get an inspection sticker anymore,” said Eaton.

If you can’t re-use it, recycle it or repair it, then smash the hell out of it — that’s the Maine way.

Eaton and his stepfather Bob Keene decided that the Ford Contour had to look slick.

“We wanted to put flames on it and make it look like something no one has ever seen before, so we took the car, stenciled flames on the hood and the trunk and used a plasma cutter to carve them out,” Eaton said.

Keene works at R. W. Gliddens in Waldoboro and that is where they were able to use the plasma cutter.

They proceeded to paint the rest of the car with fire-orange paint and stenciled No. 58 across the doors.

“We cut off the exhaust to make it nice and loud, but other than that, we kept it pretty original,” said Eaton.

Eaton had never driven in a Demolition Derby before. 

“It was a blast,” he said. “The initial countdown got my heart racing. I didn’t know what I was getting into. When they said ‘Go,’ my foot hit the pedal right down to the floor and the next thing I knew, we were all crashing into each other. There was smoke coming up from all places. I backed into the first one then I got sandwiched in between a bunch of cars. My car ended up stalling and I had to re-start it. Then, I was off again, and got stuck again. Next thing I know, my car wasn’t driving; I couldn’t figure out why. Then, when I got pulled off, I got out of my car and saw my whole front axle had broken sideways. My front tire was sideways on the ground. It was a way more fun version of bumper cars.”

Scooter Chadbourne has been running the Demolition Derby for the past 12 years. The event itself Chadbourne estimates has been going on for more than 20 years and the two Derby events that take place at the Union Fair every year draw the biggest crowds. Chadbourne says each car has to undergo a 40-point safety inspection before it can be entered into the Derby. For more than two hours the drivers go at it, smashing and ramming until the car is disabled. Then several scrappers come in and buy the damaged vehicles from the participants.

“This past Saturday’s event was smooth,” said Chadbourne. “I’ve seen it all. The cars were well prepared. The idea with the crowd is to keep it moving. If there’s too much time and a lag in the action, we start losing them.”

Of the 30 cars, there were multiple classes. Eaton’s Ford Contour was among 10 entrants in the sixth cylinder class, with his car coming in sixth. “As soon as I got done, I told my parents, I wish I had another car to do it again,” he said. “I’ll definitely do this again.”

Thursday’s second Demolition Derby event will again, be held at the Union Fair at 7 p.m. Chadbourne anticipates another 30 or more cars to be added as entrants. For more information visit: The Union Fair.

Kay Stephens can be reached at