quoting Chris Wire “while it may not be the craziest thing we’ve ever talked about doing—it’s certainly the craziest thing we’ve done”
The Real Art Derby car project was a success. After a month and a half of dismantling and reconstructing the Altima. Derby day finally arrived. Chris Wire, Andy Nick, my son Dallas and I hit the Montgomery County Fair grounds just after 2pm Sunday afternoon. After pulling the car off the trailer and a slow trip around the dirt track the officals gave our car the once over and a thumbs-up and placed us second in line for the compact heat along the wall. We wired our hood and trunk down and final checks and the car was ready to roll.
The rest of the day was spent in the hot sun on the dirt track, Chris stayed with the car and the local wildlife down on the track while I got out of the sun for a bit under his truck. About 6pm I headed down for the drivers meeting, which consisted of a really colorful group of people. We all listened to the rules and got set to go. We went through three heats of the full sized cars. A couple fires and one car pushed over the cement barrier.
Being a rookie driver—I’d been pretty nervous all day, had trouble sleeping the night before, but all that stopped as soon as I was in the car and getting ready to enter the ring. I got stuck behind the first car, our “little buddy” from the wall, who couldn’t get his car to start and didn’t participate in the heat. After all day of running his mouth and jumping up and down on his car, that had to make him pretty upset, he was quite the character. Once we were all in place and I heard the siren I hit reverse and the gas as hard as I could swung out and tried to start hitting people. It was awesome, really! I can see how people could get addicted to driving in derbies. What took just over 10 minutes from start to finish seemed like it went on forever. You would see cars coming at you from one side only to be slammed from some other direction before getting drilled by the impact you originally saw coming. As violent as the hits looked I really didn’t move around the car much and had no ill effects after. A little tense and a few sore muscles.
Eventually, I lost steering control when my front right tie rod snapped, from there transmission problems in the forward gears began to be a problem, slipping and ultimately stopping my movement. I was eventually timed out as the 4th car still running. But the heat was immediately shutdown because of a visible fire and upon restart only 1 car was still moving so they were declared the winner with 2nd and 3rd going to the others who were still alive prior to the shutdown. Pretty upset really, once I heard that I’d get a trophy for 3rd I gotta say I really wanted that trophy more than the $250 (1st) or $50 (2nd). The car performed well, just as we’d hoped it would and really there were probably some things I could have done better as the driver but I tried to give it everything that little Nissan had. At the end there was a small fire in the engine compartment and antifreeze and a cloud of steam and smoke were bellowing from under the crumpled hood. I tried to restart her but just got nothing. I hoped back in the car and waited for the forklift to push us up on our trailer for the ride back to Chris’ house.
We dropped the car, cleaned up a bit then I was whisked off to Pat Murray’s house for the derby after party. Video was watched, stories were told and fun was had by all who were in attendance.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank the following people;
- Chris Wire, the man that made it all possible in so many ways.
- Joanie Wire, thanks for putting up with the demo car project at your place.
- Andy Nick, who never thought his ride would end it’s life as a derby car and all his help along the way.
- Everyone who helped on the car from stripping and building it up to artwork and detailing; Ryan Clark, Dallas Hunt, Rocco Rossie, Tom Immen, Tom Davis, Pat Murray, Jef Mayer, Patrice Hall. i hope I’ve gotten everyone.
Pat Murray, for opening your house for the aftermath party.
- Real Art’s clients, friends and vendors who allowed us to use their logos on our car; Alpinestars (firesuit I wore}, CQ Printing (hood decal), The Dayton Creative Syndicate, Fibre, Hope Equity, Moody signs (vinyl decals), NewPage Corporation, RBA and Vtech.
- The many wonderful ladies in their spectacular derby hats.
- And of course for all of the Real Arters, family and friends who came out to brave the heat and crowds at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds, to witness the glory and the destruction!
One more word about car #485—despite the damage sustained in the derby rumor has it that the car might not be finished. Quoted one anonymous Real Art source, “if that transmission works we can run it again for sure!”