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Backroad Trucker driven to bring back Salmon Arm demolition derby

Reality TV star Dave Schwandt resurrects car-crushing event
The pulse-pounding, car-crushing excitement returns this year as Backroad Trucker star Dave Schwandt resurrects the Salmon Arm Demolition Derby that last took place in 2017. (Black Press photo)

The resurrection of the Salmon Arm Demolition Derby is going to be a triple threat.

Dave Schwandt, star of the History Channel’s reality TV show Backroad Truckers, has been “doing derby” for 35 years and decided it was time to revive the car-crushing event that was last held in 2017.

He didn’t, however, expect what a smash it would prove to be.

“I posted it on Facebook a couple of times and it just blew up,” he said of its reception. “Like off the Richter scale.”

Industry friends, equally excited by the derby’s return, suggested collaborating to include a show and shine and swap meet to help keep people engaged in the downtime between heats, and extend it into a two-day event.

Co-organizer Vance Tierney from White Post Auto Museum said they’re expecting it to be sellout, adding that his annual swap meet of antique car parts and memorabilia typically attracts over 2,000 alone, and this is “a collaboration between three sought-after entities.”

“The community’s just starving for this,” he said, adding that in the approximate month that they’ve been planning this, that interest has also spread to people in Alberta, Saskatchewan and the U.S.

Also new to derby 2.0 are annual themes, with this year’s being the ’80s and ’90s, “after the greatest decades ever,” Schwandt said, with costumes strongly encouraged.

“I want crowd participation,” he explained. “Make smiles.”

He’s already getting participation in spades, with 50 cars registered, which is at capacity. But Schwandt said he’s still taking names for a wait list as there are inevitably some cancellations. He also hopes to get at least 20 trucks for a heat.

Metal mashing aside, the organizers said their plans for the “redneck event” include a “huge” beer garden, food and other vendors, as well as some star power. Using his reality TV connections, Schwandt has Rust Valley Restorers main man Mike Hall confirmed, as well as some other cast members of the show, on which he’s made guest appearances for over five years, sparking his own show that’s returning for a second season.

“I guess I give off energy, they say,” he said of his career in front of the cameras.

That energy is serving him well in this planning stage, as the derby event continues to grow. As it’s a community event that’s focused on getting kids involved, Schwandt has also incorporated different ways to give back. A silent auction being organized will give all proceeds, along with some of the ticket sales, to at least one bursary for a student in School District 83 pursuing a career in the trades. He’ll also be approaching local charities and non-profits to hold 50/50 draws, with a different organization benefiting on both days.

The event will take place at the Salmon Arm fairgrounds on Father’s Day weekend, June 15 and 16.

“What better on a Father’s Day than to go smash cars up?” he joked.

Tickets are expected to be $25 for adults (less for kids), and will be available for purchased at the gate and the soon-to-be-launched website, with two-day passes also available online only. More information can be found on the derby’s Facebook page at Salmon Arm Demolition Derby 2.0.

“It’s all lining up,” Schwandt stated.

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About the Author: Heather Black

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