I got a phone call from one of my best friends the other week that went something like this: “hey Sam, a bunch of us are going to Brighton Speedway next weekend for some races, you should come” Oh Brighton, The epicenter of back country motor sports and ridiculous racing ideas. My response was something along the lines of “I will see if I can make it out, it’s a bit of a hike from Toronto and I’m not sure if the wife will appreciate the country “culture” that is a day of racing in Brighton.” All I really wanted to do was sit on the couch and catch up on T.V.-Then my friend told my there would be a school bus race. It took all of 2 seconds for me to confirm that I was going to the race. Let me explain what was involved in a day of racing at the Brighton Speed way. We will only focus on a couple of these races because I have been told that my blogs are too long and bla, bla, bla…
1) endurance races: Picture 64 cars racing around a tight, dirt oval track with high banks in the corners. The cars race in three heats. The top place finishers get to move on to the final event- the demolition derby. The cars that race these are “race prepped” and by that I mean they have no glass or lights and crummy paint jobs done with a spray paint can or paint brush. I will summarize an endurance race like this: picture everyone racing around a track in cars that are not fit for the road. Now picture them intentionally hitting each other and trying to knock each other off the track. You have to be pretty fearless to win one of these events. The winner was 16 years old and had clearly not yet felt the sting of aching bones the next day.
2) Trailer race: This pretty much the exact same thing as an endurance race except everyone has to have a trailer on the back of their vehicle. The trailer is still considered a trailer as long as the tongue is attached up to the car. These trailers are hooked up to cars destined for the demolition derby so scratching the paint is okay. In fact there are extra laps added on to drivers that don’t trade pant. The object is to try to take out your opponent and their trailer. OH THE HUMANITY! These trailers are all in varying states of decay and most have been loaded up with garbage and unwanted household furniture. This is done to try and destroy the tires on the car behind it and make the track that much more dangerous. The old a-barbecue-is-going-to-fall-out-of-the-back-of-my-trailer-and-onto-your-hood trick is the most advanced maneuver in Motorsports racing today.
3) Vehicle long jump: This is an open class for anyone to partake in. It is also the single largest business producer for the local chiropractic clinic. Contestants take their post endurance cars but pre-demolition derby cars and launch them off a 2 and a half-foot ramp to see how much air they can get. No landing strip, just dirt, flat hard-packed dirt. The winner is the person who jumps the furthest. I think I saw one contestant cough up a vertebrae in a Buick Century. On a side note, the sound these cars make when they land is somewhere between the dull thud of dropping a bowling ball on wood and running over a tin can.
4) School bus race: OH. MY. GOD! I was expecting short buses. I got full-sized old school International, Ford and G.M.’s! The majority of them run big block American motors. The buses that run the original diesel mills puff out thick black smoke. These buses are unbelievable. If you have never seen cheese-wagons smash into each other while trying to negotiate a tight, angled turn on a dirt track you have never lived. These guys are ruthless. And it shows. Buses went off the track, spun out and crashed. These are 70 foot logs rolling around they are loud, top-heavy and unstable. They have so much real-estate on top of the old school ladder frames that you can aim to hit. The track is not that wide or accommodating in corners, So much contact happens between these buses. You would could almost relate it to watching whales engage in a pre-mating ritual. If you get the chance, go see a bus race it will make you reevaluate your priorities.
5) Demolition derby: This was the main event and it devided into compact cars and full size cars. The cars are placed in a small area bounded by concrete blocks. What ensues when the checkered flag goes up is madness! Everyone try’s to eliminate everyone else’s car by smashing into it. I spoke with a seasoned demolition derby veteran and he explained that there are 2 ways to win a derby. To win the compact class (the majority of these cars are front engine front wheel drive) you have to smash the front of another car with the back of yours. Essentially you want to inflict as much damage as possible to the front of your opponent’s car (so you can disable the engine) without exposing the front of your car to damage. The full-sized class is the opposite. Most of them are front engine rear wheel drive cars. These full-sized cars are generally pre-crash protection era cars so the front ends are bullet proof. The best bet is to back into the rear side of the other car so you can take out the rear axle and render the car immobile. Most of these full-sized cars have rear ends larger than a 2 bedroom condo in Toronto so there is lots of metal to cushion the blow. after seeing the carnage unfold I am 100% positive that we should be promoting this event to people with anger management issues. This would not only allow them to take out anger. It would reward those who are most aggressive.
*no animals were hurt in the making of this blog, however approximately 70 cars, 6 trailers and 9 buses were destroyed*