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Updated: Jul 10
K-Town Demolition Derby Harkens to Old Wild West
Where Colorado’s Muddy Creek, Blue River, and Colorado River all meet is Kremmling, a town founded in the Wild West’s 1881 silver boom that’s still a little wooly. Just west from Granby, at the foot of Rocky Mountain National Park and the Colorado River Headwaters, you drive through beautiful Byers Canyon and past sprawling horse ranches, roaming cattle, and a free public shooting range to get there.
One of Kremmling’s big events, the annual “Get Smashed in K-Town” demolition derby, attracts people from the region and surrounding states to unleash pent-up, traffic-induced emotions and embrace the freedom of totally destroying your car.
The 13th annual event reported continuing attendance growth, according to sponsor Middle Park Fair and Rodeo, and an increasing purse — $25,000 last summer. Held at the Middle Park Fairgrounds rodeo arena, more than 25 drivers in 40 cars competed for the cash, stocked coolers, and the fun of appropriately expressed road rage.
The evening of demolition included a new soccer-mom minivan category, which excited the audience of more than 2,000 (which doubled the town’s population for the night). Five competition classes depend on vehicle welding set-up and size, so the free-for-all chaos is somewhat controlled to keep the most vulnerable from getting smithereened.
Pre-derby strutting and heckling came in the form of costumed characters and theme cars to build crowd loyalties and cheers. The painted-black Darth Vader’s Ride was handled by a costumed Darth Vader. A John Travolta look-a-like danced with his Olivia Newton John to a Grease song across the rodeo arena, a Frankenstein and his bride hobbled out, and several homemade costumes and themed jalopy paint jobs added more competitive color.
Denver’s seven-piece The Country Music Project pumped out hits from a stage. Lines queued at the chamber of commerce beer garden and the smell of funnel cakes and hamburgers wafted in the background. Community and youth groups enjoyed big profits from the thirsty, hungry crowd.
The crowd was a diverse mix of hard-riding cowboys with boots and beer, some good-guy volunteer sheriffs who knew the folks and kids, summer-home visitors avoiding boredom, and the plain curious. A large contingent of seeming cowboys wore short cut-off jeans and “Where’s Waldo” striped tights, adding an unusual flair. Without posters or protest signs, only the locals could interpret the symbolism correctly if it was beyond the obvious.
After a hardy rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” and big crowd cheers, the engines fired up and the first competitions began. The smell of hot rusty radiators spurting steam from crash wounds, and white exhaust smoke soon swirled over the arena.
Ironically, between heats, the Candela Collective Performance Troupe performed aerial ballet from colorful silken scarves hanging from a 20-foot high frame. The flowing, sensual movements from young women aerialists added a soft touch as vanquished, smoking, dripping wrecks were dragged out of the dirt arena behind them.
Roaring, fire-blasting engines brought on the final heat, where crash impacts sent shock waves across the rodeo grounds and brought even louder cheers and groans. Radiator to radiator trucks surged against each other with grinding transmissions and clashing metal until only one vehicle remained running, actually sputtering, trying to hold on for the cash prize.
Outstanding fireworks concluded the event, including a movie-like pyrotechnic surprise of 50-gallon drums of flammables exploding and freaking out some who thought it was an accident. Rolling flames billowed over two massive explosions that poured black smoke against the night moon. Two more timed blasts brought hesitant but exhilarating comfort the blasts were intentional.
During the dog-days of summer, fender-crashing demolition derby keeps the Wild West alive in this old silver town.