by Bethany Spencer
Most people try to avoid hitting and damaging cars. Not Connor De Bruin! The PC senior has been crashing cars pretty regularly for the past 4 years. De Bruin has been participating in demolition derbies since the age of 14.
“My step dad and brother derbied a lot and it was cool,” said De Bruin. The “season” for this kind of competition is summer, however there are a few winter derbies, such as Blizzard Bash. Derbies take De Bruin all around Iowa and sometimes into Missouri, but his favorite event is in Oskaloosa because it is the closest to home.
His roles include that of driver and mechanic. One of the challenges of the competition is getting the car ready on time. “We work on the cars till 2 or 3 a.m., and I try to do small things when I arrive at the derby,” said De Bruin. The cars come from all over, and are usually located through either Craigslist or Facebook.
Each derby has its own precise set of rules on how to build the car. Fixing them up can include anything from pulling an engine to welding on a roll cage. A different car is needed for almost every competition. “Sometimes you’ll get out there and something small like a wire will fall off, and you can use the car again, but I enjoy finishing off the car and starting over because it’s about as easy to build a new one as it is to straighten out a pre-ran car,” said De Bruin.
Surprisingly, injuries are not that common. The worst that De Bruin himself has experienced is an anti-freeze burn. “My step dad broke some ribs and his thumb in one, and I’ve watched a few guys break a wrist or get knocked out,” he said.
The hard work and dedication pays off though, as prizes include up to $1,000 for first prize and trophies for first, second, and third places. “The ‘Mad Dog’ award goes to the guy who goes nuts and hits the hardest,” he said. “I won it last fall in Riverside, Iowa.” De Bruin has won five derbies, three of which were in the summer of 2017.
One of De Bruin’s derbies can be viewed at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EuUmYXwwHoA