When the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration rated the Chrysler PT Cruiser more than two decades ago, it probably didn’t consider its potential as a demolition derby contender. But on July 23, 2022, enthusiasts at the 37th Fairview Demolition Derby did. Turns out, it’s not bad.

Ice Cream Car in the Demolition Derby Fairview, UT

Photo Credit: Rex Jackson, Fairview Demolition Derby Volunteer

Start Your Engines

While most motorsports are about racing to the finish, a demolition derby is about surviving to the end. Vehicles meet together to literally drive into each other, battling it out until only one remains operational. The sport originated in the 1950s at tracks and speedways, but it has grown in popularity in recent decades.

Before & Mario Car in Fairview Demolition Derby

Photo Credit: Rex Jackson, Fairview Demolition Derby Volunteer

Sanpete County residents keep alive the tradition of squeezing a little extra life out of tired old cars. The Fairview derby included competition featuring a wide variety of contenders, including returning champ Rex Jackson.

Rainbow Car was used as a Demolition Derby Car

Photo Credit: Rex Jackson, Fairview Demolition Derby Volunteer

Finding a Ride

Also an event volunteer, Jackson upheld his place as reigning champ in his class. For the 2022 competition, he found his four demolition derby cars — all under $600 — on KSL Cars: a 1999 Honda Accord, a 2001 Chrysler PT Cruiser, a 2002 Saturn LW200 station wagon and a 2005 Chevrolet Impala. 

“I received mixed emotions from the sellers,” Jackson said about his acquisitions. “Some folks were glad that their cars were going to be used. One of the sellers even attended the derby.”

Dinosaur Car

Photo Credit: Rex Jackson, Fairview Demolition Derby Volunteer

Rules of the Road

Once purchased, Jackson’s cars were customized by their respective sponsors and prepped for battle. Derby rules are specific about what is (and isn’t) allowed to make things fair and safe for everyone. 

Popular cars over the years have included American-made station wagons and sedans, due to their large and heavy frames. Some cars are so crash resilient that they’ve been banned from competition. For example, Fairview’s demolition derby restricts participation of 1973 and older Imperials. Regulations include limitations such as:

  • No convertibles or compacts
  • No glass, moldings, door handles or lights
  • Mandatory seat belts
  • Padding on driver door and post
  • Mandated location of fuel tank and battery

Worth noting is that this competition doesn’t just evaluate the ruggedness of the cars. Prizes are also awarded to the most aggressive driver of the night, the most aggressive driver per heat and the car with the best paint job.

Putting On a Good Face

Unicorn Car from Fairview Demolition Derby in 2021

Photo Credit: Rex Jackson, Fairview Demolition Derby Volunteer

Jackson’s family has been watching the demolition derby for several years in Fairview, his mother-in-law’s hometown. But, he didn’t become a driver until 2021. He remembers asking his wife if she’d let him compete.

“Only if you decorate the car like a unicorn for our daughter,” she told him. Not long afterward he won his heat in the ‘90s class, driving a unicorn-themed Ford Taurus station wagon. The passion had been lit. 

This year, he reached out to volunteer and get more involved by seeking event sponsors. Three of Jackson’s cars for the 2022 demolition derby were sponsored by Pic-A-Part, the other by Ace Hardware. 

Smashing Success

This year’s sold-out derby included a new event called a hot pursuit heat. City leaders, including the mayor and sheriff, joined in for a lap to demonstrate their driving abilities. To keep the enthusiasm ramped up, judges watch to make sure all cars make some sort of vehicle contact at least every two minutes. 

Fairview Demolition Derby in Utah

Photo Credit: Rex Jackson, Fairview Demolition Derby Volunteer

Sometimes it’s the drama that gets the crowd going. “There were a couple cars that flipped, which was exciting but scary,” Jackson said. Everyone was OK. 

Prize stakes were substantial at this event, including a $1,000 prize and a Ford Crown Victoria to the winner of the Most Aggressive title. 

Ace Hardware Demolition Derby Car

Photo Credit: Rex Jackson, Fairview Demolition Derby Volunteer

Going Forward

Jackson won his heat with the 1999 Accord. He plans to return in 2023 and beyond to uphold his reign and keep building the event. “My son said I have to keep driving again until I lose,” he said.

From a cosmetic perspective, a car may appear totally worn out. But it may still have a life as part of a demolition derby. If it’s on the verge of junkyard status already, why not? Whether you’re hunting for a cheap ride or a high-end supercar, check outKSL Cars for the most comprehensive selection of vehicle listings in the region. If you’d like to put your find in the next derby, contact Fairview City.

Fairview Demolition Derby with Mayor and Police Chief.

Police Chief Steve Gray(left) and Mayor Brad Welch (right) at the Fairview Demolition Derby.

Photo Credit: Cameron Thompson, Fairview City Manager