story by Bailey Clayton | photography by Great West Publishing
If you’re looking for a chance to see cars in action, visit with friends old and new, and watch your friends and family have a blast together, the annual Pete Knight Days Rodeo and Crossfield Elks Demolition Derby is where you want to be. People from acreages and farms outside of Crossfield gather with those coming directly from town to experience these two major events in Crossfield.
The derby began as a way to add some additional excitement to Crossfield’s annual Pete Knight Days, according to Al Meunier, Crossfield Elk and derby organizer. Meunier, along with fellow Elks Gene Carruthers, Jason Carruthers and Mark Selent, created the demolition derby 11 years ago, and it has been carried on as a legacy ever since.
“I had been involved with demo derbies in the past and knew that this kind of event would be perfect for Crossfield, so with the help of the Elks we organized it and it has been going ever since,” Meunier said. “Without countless hours of volunteer work, these kinds of events would not exist.”
A demolition derby is a motorsport event where drivers run their vehicles into one another until there is only one left standing. In Crossfield’s derby, drivers must follow a set of rules laid out for the safety of all drivers and pit crew members. Prior to the derby, drivers take the time to work on their cars until they’re in the ideal condition for a derby. This usually means tough enough to withstand the force of the other cars, and robust enough to handle each derby heat.
One of my favourite aspects of the derby is the number of fans that come out to support our community and the rodeo and demo derby.
“Also the showmanship of the derby drivers; they know that they are there to put on a show for the fans that come out to watch,” said Meunier, who has been involved long enough to be able to see how positively the crowd takes to the derby every year.
Drivers in the demolition derby are a mix of veterans and rookies, coming from as far away as Medicine Hat and British Columbia; however, most are from the Crossfield and Calgary areas. There will be about 30 drivers in a typical derby line-up, according to Meunier.
“Many of the drivers have been coming to our derby since the very first one, and each year we see new faces who are interested in competing,” he said. “Advice for future drivers would be to start work on your car right now. There is lots of work that needs to be completed before they can compete. Talk to some of the more experienced drivers; they are always more than happy to assist.”
Entrance to the derby is $15.00 per person, with those 12 and under get in free. Every dollar raised goes back into the community of Crossfield by way of the non-profit Crossfield Elks Club #416.
If you’re interested in becoming a driver in a future derby, check out the website: infopeteknightdays.wixsite.com for more information on rules and registration forms.