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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.

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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…

Demolition Derby: Mod Session 5

We’re done! This fifth mod session was the last one, and we finished everything. Now to worry about everything else…

Today’s work was simple, allowing for coffee, beer, and chill-out time. Among the things we worked on and finished:

(1) Draining the coolant system and replacing it with water.
(2) Snipping some loose wires.
(3) Cleaning remaining glass.
(4) Removing the hubcaps and wheel weights (thanks CC!).
(5) Applying additional coats of paint to corporate partner logos.
(6) RP and PF adding their own pieces to the contributors-only roof.

And, of course, we buzzed around the neighborhood.

With the mod sessions behind us, the effort focuses on:
(1) Streaming the derby to the Web (PMS w/ the assist).
(2) Towing the car to the derby (JV w/ the assist).
(3) The pre-event party (Palantir Technologies providing the pizza!).

Each of these items are doable, it’s just a matter of turning the focus to them and finishing them.

Thanks again for the awesome help provided by RP and PF!

Demolition Derby: Mod Session 4

This was the fourth and final true demolition derby modification session, so we had to make it count. And we did, thanks to the efforts of PF (way to get out the windows!) and RP (way to drag me along on ideas I think are incredibly stupid but work out!).

Chain Everything Down
Securing the various probably-required points on the car has been a task on which we’ve been working for some time. Yesterday, though, we can remove it from the to-do list. Because the preparation had been done already, the actual securing was fairly simple. In fact, the hardest part was the trip to the hardware store to buy chain and a few connectors. Even though we can take this task off the list, there are a couple minor related items I’ll do this week:
(1) Buy washers to add to the nuts and bolts that connect/secure the wires.
(2) Cut the chain to the correct length.
(3) Based on my re-reading of the rules, I think we need to add two more fastenings to the trunk. I think we have the wire and just need the nuts and bolts. I’ll figure this out.

Removing Glass
Some of the glass had already been removed when we ripped out the front and rear lights, but the windows and windshields remained. PF did a great job w/ the windows, which he did while RP focused on the front and rear windshields. It was the windshields that required the most amount of work and time.

My research suggested using WD-40 would eat away some of the seal, making it easier to remove the glass. Well, that’s true, but it doesn’t eat away enough. In addition to the corrosive, we used utility knives and screw drivers, with the latter probably being the main reason the rear windshield shattered. We learned from this, though. In doing the front windshield we taped the outside and inside of the windshield and then kicked out–yes, kicked out–the glass. This went extremely and surprisingly well, leaving very little cleanup and additional work.

To-Do Items
I started by mentioning that yesterday was our last mod session. This is sorta true. This coming weekend is the last last mod session, but it is reserved for tying up loose ends and not major work. Here is what is on the agenda, although I’ll knock out what I can in between now and then:

(1) Flush radiator and cooling systems; add water
(2) Double check for loose wires hanging that need to be trimmed
(3) File sharp edges
(4) Have RP and PF paint their bits on the hood, which is reserved for people who directly contributed to the effort.

Update: Additional To-Do Items
(5) Clean inside of car, especially of glass.
(6) Consult CC’s email w/ derby advice.
(7) Apply additional coats of paint to existing paint.