Lots of work goes into being a ‘decorated’ derby driver

Michael Roud, who is participating in his fifth year at the Kingston Fall Fair Demolition Derby, is a multi-award winning driver in the event, having won the prize for Best Decorated Derby Vehicle twice last year, as well as winning 1st in his heat and in the feature race in 2017. And while thousands of people enjoy the show he and fellow derby drivers put on every year, few see the hard work that goes on behind the scenes to make it a fun and safe event for all.

Roud and his crew have been working on his car since acquiring it in July. “My good friend Tom helped me to take the vehicle apart, all my family and friends help me paint, it’s a great opportunity to bond,” he says. The car, which Roud says he bought for $300, has to be almost completely dismantled.

“We took all the interior out, from the seats, to the carpet, bumpers, headlights, airbags, windshields and windows – and then you start putting it back together as a derby car, so you put the fire extinguisher in, put the gas tank inside the car in the back seat, and the battery goes inside the car where the passenger seat used to be.”

Essentially, all glass and combustible materials not essential to the operation of the vehicle are removed. A hole is also cut into the hood of the vehicle, he says, to facilitate access to the engine in case of fire. Reinforcing rods are welded vertically where the windshields used to be, both to strengthen the roof of the vehicle as well as to prevent any vehicles from riding up and into the inside of the car. All of the doors are welded shut as well, and it’s a disqualifying penalty if any doors come open during the derby. He says that he and his team have spent over a dozen hours on dismantling and re-assembling the car.

After all of the required safety matters are taken care of, it’s then time to add a little flair. Some choose a minimalistic decorating style, with just the identifying tags, but others, like Roud, go all out. He’s hoping this year’s decoration, a Scooby Doo design, will garner continued acclaim.
Roud is participating in the “straight stock” race this year. You can watch him compete tonight, Thursday September 13th, at 7 p.m at the Memorial Centre Fairgrounds.
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