27 Jan 65 : Women drivers and Demolition Derby : New York, USA

This continues the letter dated Monday 25th Jan which began:

Crossway Idlewild Inn, New York

Dear Mum, Dad, Nigel, Carol and Kipp,

Wednesday 27th

We have been working all this week in a warehouse in Brooklyn, and there are three women in the warehouse who can be made to laugh very easily, and we have had quite a bit of fun.

Two of them are the wives of the owners, and tonight we went ten-pin bowling with them. I don’t like this very much but nevertheless it was a pleasant night out.

We have been an hour late for work every day this week due to the fact that we get lost each time!! Although the roads here are terrific, the method of road signs are terrible and it’s very easy to go wrong especially at these fantastic intersections. So we spent an awful lot of time going the wrong way!! Another problem is that, sometimes, once you get on the Expressway you can’t get off. It’s all very confusing.

We have a lovely car. It’s very big and fully automatic and in heavy traffic is very easy and comfortable to drive. The standard of driving here is terrible – and you have to be prepared for anything. One of the reasons is that there are so many more women drivers. Nearly every woman has a car.

(A quick 2018 note from Tony’s daughter: DAAADDD!! For shame!!! 😀 )

Last Saturday on TV there was a Saturday afternoon sports programme and one item was the ‘World Demolition Derby‘. This apparently is a popular sport here.

It takes place in a huge stadium, and about 50 cars are formed in a huge circle. On a signal they all start, and the idea is to demolish the other cars. The winner is the last car to be able to move.

The scene was amazing, cars turned over, cars caught fire and were smashed beyond recognition. They could be disqualified for not being ‘aggressive’ enough. You can imagine what it was like.

At the end, huge bulldozers came in to clear the field for the next round. To save their radiators most of the cars went backwards – crazy!!!

To be continued…

< Previous letter | Next letter >

Note: Sadly Tony has few photos from this part of his travels (the photos from later in his travels are amazing!) and none of this event.

However I found this fantastic film about the history of Demolition Derby at New York’s iconic Islip Speedway, where this surreal motorsport purportly first began – at a time when second-hand cars had so little value for scrap or resale that they were regularly simply abandoned. From this world came the ‘sport’ of destroying your own car for fun…

It became enormously popular, with massive crowds gathering to watch large derbies. The film explains that in 1963, the ultimate winner of the derby would win a new car, plus $1,000 – a huge sum in those days.

Another film here shows a 1966 New York demolition derby with 200 cars smashing each other to pieces in front of a delighted crowd.

It’s an incredible sight, especially to those (like us Brits) who are unfamiliar with this tradition. But it’s awful to see so many stunning vintage cars wrecked!

demolition derby crowd

2 thoughts on “27 Jan 65 : Women drivers and Demolition Derby : New York, USA

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s