By Ann Wood
OXFORD— Attention tough Maine ladies—there’s a demolition derby division calling your name, complete with a $600 first prize and $200 second prize at the Oxford County Fair. You’ve got a good chance of winning the big bucks, organizer Josh Price says, as the only contenders in the ladies division last year were two sisters.
“Anybody can sign up for it. You gotta have at least a driver’s license or a permit,” he says.
Kevin Bishop, who also heads up the demolition derby, says this year he believes the number in the ladies’ division will at least double to four.
“I was talking to a young lady at the laundry mat there yesterday and she’s got a car,” he says, adding that he’d like more women to join in the big bang-up.
The demolition derby is one of the Oxford County Fair’s most popular attractions—and it’s not for women only. There are five classes this year, and women can sign up for any of them.
On Wednesday, Sept. 10, the first night of the fair, the crash and smash begins at 7 p.m. with the minivan division ($400 for first place, $100 for second) and the four-cylinder division ($500 for first and $200 for second). All the other classes, including the ladies, will be held on Friday, beginning at 7 p.m. There will be a full-size division ($1,000 first place and $300 for second) that night and a new 60-year-old and older division replaces the “run-wit-you-bring” category. Senior demo winners will receive $400, or $200 for second place.
If a bunch of cars enter each division, competitors will run some heats and the winners will participate in the main event. Though the point is to take out the other competitors, Price says that the sport is “pretty safe” since smashing into the driver’s side door is illegal. No one’s been hurt in the three years he’s been part of the action.
“A couple of cars might catch fire here and there,” Price says, adding that fire and rescue are on standby.
If a car hits an opponent’s driver side door but officials can tell he or she tried to brake, Price says it’s OK. But if it purposely hit the door, there’ll be one warning before the person is kicked out of competition. If a car gets hit and stalls, the driver’s got a minute to start it up again. If the engine doesn’t turn over in 60 seconds, the car is all done. The winner, Bishop say, is last car running in the ring.
Bishop, who’s a third generation race car driver, works as a technical inspector at Oxford Plains Speedway and runs its go-cart races, ran a 1976 Oldsmobile 98 in the demolition derby for eight years.
“If you look it up you’ll see it’s got its own zip code. … With that car I got one win, three second and two thirds,” he says, before giving drivers some solid advice. “Patience. You’ve got to pace yourself to do the hits correctly and take your time. Don’t go all spastic. You want to protect the front ‘cause that’s where the radiator is and you want to keep it cool.”
Also happening on opening day at the Oxford County Fair on Route 26 in Oxford are Oxen Demonstrations, Draft and Pony Show, Harness Racing, TJ’s DJ, a Steer and Oxen Scooting Contest, and more. For a full schedule of this year’s events, see the special Oxford County Fair insert inside this paper.