They were there for the dirt. Fires, explosions, the pure manliness of cars. The sell out crowd shelled out fifteen bucks a head (thirteen for those in the front three rows, willing to duck the shrapnel) and what they paid to see was utter destruction. They wanted to see things not just torn up — but shredded. The last thing they expected to see brutally abused was the National.
Every year, local residents in Summit County Utah mark the first week in August off on their calendars for the County. A “traditional small town county fair with cowboys and bucking broncos, clowns, a carnival midway, beauty queens, home canned goods, flowers, vegetables, and more.” The event sets up in “scenic Coalville.”
According to their promotional page, the “Demolition Derby careens into the fairgrounds opening day of the Summit County Fair.” Tickets were sold out in advance.
Everyone in Coalville was lined up for “an edge of your seat thrill watching experience.” For those not familiar with the practice, they thoughtfully explain, “The Derby consists of drivers battling it out by smashing and crashing their vehicles into one another. The last driver whose vehicle is still operational wins the grand prize money and all the bragging rights.”
A moreaficionado explains it this way. “No one would mistake demolition derbies for anything other than what they are. They’re gladiator-type events where drivers smash the heck out of their vehicles while fans scream approval from the stands. We cheer for drivers crazy enough to crash into each other on purpose and for the cars they built to go the distance. And what cars! They are the spray-painted embodiment of the underdog. They’ve been stripped down and reworked to endure the worst retirement party imaginable. Their better days have gone the way of their rear-view mirrors and windows, and most contenders spill their guts and radiator fluid in the arena before being towed to their final resting place. One heroic vehicle, however, coughs its way to victory.”
Cash Prizes keep the drivers coming back year after year so many times they can’t do the math. One called D.J. was asked after spinning out of the contest, “How long have you been doing this?” He replied, “Since 2003, however many years that is, my math ain’t good right now.” Top prize for the big metal bomber cars in the “Iron Builds” class is $7,000. Stocks fight it out for 2.5k Trucks 2k. Even mini cars and powder puff for the girls have a heat for 1k each. Best in Class is good for $500. The poster puts a big exclamation point on “Mad Dog Money will be awarded!” After the dust and smoke clears, it gets handed to the most aggressive and entertaining drivers.
This year’s Derby has half the county upset. Officials of Summit County have had their phone ringing off the hook and a deluge of e-mails and social media complaints. The National Anthem performance was horrible callers say. General consensus of those who were there is that “the performance was disrespectful to our nation and made light of the American Flag.”
Howling the revered song from the back of a blue pickup, the artist, who’s name was not released, appeared to be possibly drunk. Comments posted on Facebook show how riled up normally peaceful Utah can get when you mess with something they believe in.
Steven L. Woolstehulme posts “In my opinion someone should of had the obligation to walk out and take the mic from this person and apologize to all who were in attendance. Allowing this to go on for the entire rendition of our anthem was not acceptable!!”
Kole Nielsen writes “Great derby, but like others said, the worst National Anthem ever. Lady was clearly wasted. She should be put in jail for that. It was a disgrace to our country and all those who have served it.” Kylee Terry Clark wants to know “…why did everyone let her keep going. She could have been asked to stop and the crowd could have sang it together. It was very disappointing and disrespectful, I hope she is punished someway”
Lynette McAllister was there and points out “The crowd near the end decided to sing aloud and try to be louder than her. The applause at the end was to get her off the main event. If this ever happens again, the announcer should be empowered to tell the truck driver to leave the grounds and we’ll just take care of it.
Summit County responded with a written statement. They “express a sincere apology to anyone who attended the 2017 fair demolition derby and felt the performance of the national anthem did not meet reasonable expectations of decorum.”
They explain they try to keep things top notch to provide those who attend the best experience they can. They emphasize, “As we start our events with the National Anthem it is our intent to honor the country, its citizens and all who have served. We regret this did not meet that standard.”
If there is one thing American’s take seriously, it is the Star Spangled Banner. Ever since Jimitook heat for his Woodstock electric solo, anyone the song gets roasted. Rosanne Barr, Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, Jackie Evancho and Michael Bolton have been tied to the stake of public opinion and torched for the same offense.
Worse than singing the song badly, refusal to stand when it plays is an even bigger slap in the face. Especially when those who are supposed to be role models do it under the gaze of network television. Colin Kaepernick decided to while the anthem was played in a blatant display of disrespect. Others made the same choice and backed his play. He is finding it very hard to land a job these days.
Residents seem to be happy with the apology and a promise not to do it again. The fair committee should award some of that Mad Dog Money to the woman mutilating the song, she could put it toward voice lessons or rehab, whichever comes first.
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