Tag Archives: demolition derby

Things I Learned this Week

Among the things I learned this week:
* A chicken’s first eggs have a harder shell than usual. (Courtesy: ZS)

* The recidivism rate for a anti-aggressive driving course in VA is 0.04 percent, up from 0.0 percent in the mid-2000s. (Courtesy: AVH).

* A box of Edison wax cylinders were discovered and identified recently, including the only known recording of Bismark. (Courtesy: NYT and Ron Cowen)

* There is a series of endurance races for sub-$500 cars called the 24 Hours of LeMONS. I am considering making it my follow up to the Jason at the Derby demolition-derby adventure. (Courtesy: AJ)

Things I Learned this Week

Among the things I learned this week:

* Shakespeare became popular after a publisher disregarded copyright agreements and moved to sell his works for dirt cheap. (Courtesy: Harper’s)

* The tremendous drop in labor share–how much labor is needed to cover the labor costs of doing business–during the past few years and its longer decline. (Courtesy: The Big Picture)

* What it’s like to be in an earthquake. (Courtesy: Personal experience)

* Once you’ve been in a demolition derby, you never watch one the same way. (Courtesy: Personal experience)

Demolition Derby: Wrap Up

It didn’t go according to plan, but the demolition derby effort was one hell of a ride. After five months, five full-day mod sessions, ~$1000, countless hours on the tech components and logistics, my glorious crashfest ended in 20 seconds with a head-on collision. Even worse, there was no in-camera video because one of the laptops was run over during inspection and the other camera/computer setup didn’t work, despite successful tests.

Get the Flash Player to see this video.



The night before the derby, we threw a pre-event party that was an absolute success. There was a solid turnout, lots of fun painting the car, social circles colliding, and plenty of food and money donations for Food for Others and National Transplant Assistance Fund. In fact, we collected 94 pounds of food. And even though I didn’t even make it one minute, meaning that the donations-per-minute system I set up failed, I’m donating $20 for each person who pledged.



The day began with JV towing the car to and dropping me off at the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair followed by registration and inspection. The derby old timers came by, intrigued by my newb vibe and teched out car. They told me to rip out the interior panels and door handles if I wanted to pass inspection, and then they joined in on the fun. One team even quickly claimed the car because it was in such good shape. They also suggested I remove the computers and cameras before the inspection and just put them back in afterward. It was a great idea, but, unfortunately, someone else was a little too manifest-destiny-ish and backed up to a ridiculous degree off their trailer and right over my pile of stuff, leading to the PowerBook being destroyed.



As you can see in the video at the top of this post, the derby started according to plan with me waiting until the other cars clustered in the middle. I was able to throw it into reverse and land a solid hit. I then shifted to first, something I was concerned about during the prep phase, and left the crowd of cars. I turned slightly to successfully dodge an incoming car, which managed to land only a glancing shot. But as I left that car behind and shifted my attention to the path ahead, two cars were heading toward me. Even though I knew the one tactic you need to know–avoid head-on collisions–it seemed unavoidable. There didn’t seem to be enough room to turn away from both cars so I decided to speed into the crash, knowing at least one of us wasn’t going to make it out. It turned out to be me, as the crash destroyed my camshaft (according to derby vets who claimed my car afterward). I spent the remaining minutes in the car a bit stunned, not from the accident but the quick ending, and the rest of the night coming to terms with the double fail of no in-camera video and a sudden demise.



This project was an overwhelming success. I managed to do something that I had long wanted to do, all the while learning about cars and video streaming, bringing a huge group of people together, landing legit corporate partners/sponsors, and raising food and money for those who need it. I’d like to once again thank every person and company who helped on the effort, regardless of exactly how you contributed. It would have been an improbable feat for me to do on my own.

Now on to the next project…