Demolition derby is a motorsport usually presented at county fairs and festivals. While rules vary from event to event, the typical demolition derby event consists of five or more drivers competing by deliberately ramming their vehicles into one another. The last driver whose vehicle is still operational is awarded the victory.
Demolition derbies originated in the United States and quickly spread to other western nations. In Europe, this type of event is called banger racing, although in a demolition derby racers do not race against each other, instead aiming specifically to destroy the other cars.
Demolition derbies can be very dangerous. Although serious injuries are rare, they do happen. Drivers are typically required to sign a waiver to release the promoter of an event from liability. To make the event safer, all glass is removed from the vehicle, and deliberately ramming the driver’s-side door area is forbidden. The driver’s door is often required to be painted white with black numbers or blaze orange, or with contrasting colors, for visibility. Most demolition derbies are held on dirt tracks, or in open fields, that are usually soaked with water. This causes the competition area to become muddy, which in turn helps to further slow the vehicles. Some drivers use both the front and rear of the vehicle to ram the other competitors. Others tend to use only the rear end of the vehicle, to help protect the engine compartment from damage.
Derbies frequently have few rules, with most regulation focusing on the cars’ composition and not on the actual action on the track. Drivers are often required to be at least 16 years old. They are usually required to have seat belt and a helmet. An event begins with drivers lined up on a dirt oval with their tail lights facing each other. They begin in reverse and starting crashing into each other. Drivers are usually required to crash into another vehicle every 2 minutes or they are labeled as “sandbagging” and become disqualified. The last running car wins the event; in order to speed up the end of a particular event, some derbies will require the last two cars running to make all hits from that point forward head-to-head, making contact only with the front ends. An event typically takes about 20 minutes. Depending on the sanctioning body, it may be illegal for multiple cars to collaborate and gang up on opposing cars in a sandwich effort, and could result in disqualification for both parties that do so; the enforcement of this rule varies widely.