PLATTSBURGH — New rules for the Demolition Derby at the Clinton County Fair are intended to make the popular event more accessible for new drivers.
Brian Criss of Dannemora, the derby’s new head official, is excited about the changes, which were worked out by the Fair Board and discussed with a group of drivers.
“This will give the average person a better chance to win,” he said.
Chrysler Imperials made between 1964 and 1973 are now banned from the event. Criss said that such cars have been called “freight trains on wheels.”
“They were very well-built and hard to beat, with super-strong frames,” he explained. “They just destroy new cars in one shot.”
As a result, derby aficionados had been traveling all over the Northeast looking for Imperials and paying as much as $2,000 for them, intending to enter the derby with an edge over less solid vehicles.
“How many ‘64 Imperials do you see in town?” Criss asked.
The travel time and the money that some competitors were putting into their search for the cars gave them an unfair advantage, he said.
“How many people can do that?”
Another change limits the use of bars around the cockpit of a derby car, so while they still provide safety to the driver, they don’t reinforce the strength of the car.
“It was becoming more of a modified derby because guys were using that to their advantage,” Criss said.
“Now, it will be back to the earlier days, to be more like a stock derby. That will make it easier for new guys trying to get in.”
Other changes in the rules are smaller, involving such regulations as limiting the number of bolts that can be used on the hood and limiting the welding that can be used on the bumpers.