my son “BEST. DAY. EVER” {our first demo derby}

In light of my recent Okie Noodling post, Chris said I might want to think twice before posting this. I consider myself a cultured kind of girl. I think too many people call themselves “cultured” but really they are only referring to a certain kind of culture. I love that last weekend I was at a wedding with Percy Sledge (….who wrote & sang When A Man Loves a Woman…more on that tomorrow) and this weekend I was at my first demolition derby. It was awesome. My 5 year old loves the quote from Tangled, “Best Day Ever!!!”. It got used a lot after the derby.

A demolition derby is basically a race where the drivers intentionally try to demolish the other cars. The last car that is left operational is the victor.

When the first race started, the boys were in utter awe and amazement. I’m pretty sure they couldn’t believe the awesomeness happening in front of them.

When we loaded the car to go, I was in a funk. It had been a long week of feeling the stress of taking on too many commitments and not enough time to accomplish it all. Had we gone to a ballet, I would have still left in a funk. A demo derby, on the other hand, was exactly what I needed. There was something about all that aggressive metal crashing around that was so refreshing for my stressed out self.

After each race, tow trucks and tractors came to pull out the ‘losing’ cars.

A few races in, we started picking “our” car to root for….let me tell you, there are passionate fans at Demo Derbys. You can’t help but start cheering and yelling….


Our friend Mark races…we’ve been wanting to come watch him for a long time. He made it to the final race and lasted almost to the end.

3 best parts of the Derby (aside from it being “The Best Day Ever”):

1. Watching Mark

2. The final battles between the last two cars in each race….so much fun to watch. Maybe it was my stress finding enjoyment in all that crashing about, but it was fun!

3. The guy whose car caught on fire.


So a race was about to start and flames started coming out of this guy’s car. He jumped through the front window and ran, firemen put it the flames out…and then he jumps back in, just in time for the race.


On the way home, Chris and were chatting…

(me) I keep thinking about the guy whose car caught on fire. You know, there was a element of stupidity on his part for getting back into that car.


On the other hand, you have to respect a guy that will take a risk and make a decision that others find stupid when it means doing something he loves. He knew that for himself, the joy of racing that car outweighed the risk involved. He calculated the risk, but ultimately chose to do what he loves. You have to respect someone like that.

You want to race in a demo derby now, don’t you?



My car would look awesome too. You know I could totally do it. No one would take me seriously. I would use my quiet, competitive nature to thrash them all. I could do it.

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  • Betsy - We took our boys to their first derby last summer. They still talk about just how awesome that day was!

  • paige rodriguez - you’re awesome. you would totally crush the competition, make the news, and THEN can you imagine how cool your kids would think you were?!? πŸ™‚ i needed a non-crafty post this morning, this was perfect. happy back to school!

  • andy - so funny
    glad you guys had fun
    now i need to check one out

  • Lisa - πŸ™‚ nice post

  • Erin - We LOVE demo derbys and look forward to them every year!!! Catching on fire is definitely one of the best parts πŸ™‚

    Your conversation cracked me up, too πŸ™‚

  • Katie Fahy - Best. Post. Ever. I didn’t think I could find you any cooler…but evidently I can!

  • Kimberlee Jost - And I would have a lovely time cheering you on…fire extinguisher in hand.

  • Betsy from Elizabeth St - You made me smile on this Monday morning.

  • ria - you could SO do it!

  • Debbie C - That last line made me laugh out loud! This post was so fun. Also, I love the color/tone of the pictures with your kids, sort of vintage-y. Beautiful!

  • Sarah - so glad you expierenced your first derby! i went to my first one a few years ago and it has been my favorite part of the fair since!

  • Kezia - Wow, its hard to believe those kind of events get past health and safety! Do people ver get injured? My little brothers (7 & 4) would love to watch that kind of thing. In fact, I would as well!

  • karen - awesome….my son was there too! in fact he’s right in front of you in 2 of your pics πŸ™‚ he was there watching mark also.

  • Jennifer Winters - Ashley-I have been reading your blog for a long time and this is my first comment. I was there too, my husband was the green wagon in the #96, the one that lost his axle and made one more hit. I would have loved to have met you and your family there! My husband does demolition derbys and we have traveled from as far south as Mississippi to as far North to Chicago IL doing them. (We are from se KS)Our 5 year old son loves it. Glad to see you have checked out what we love doing!

  • RachelC - Oh wow. Let me know when you sign up for your first derby. I’ll clear my calendar. πŸ™‚

  • stephanie - I love that in the picture of the guy’s car on fire, you didn’t crop out or blur the guy’s plumber’s crack when bending over. It keeps with the whole “culture” of the event. I love me some culture-haha!

  • Mandy - That DOES look SWEEEET; I’d totally do it with you!!! I had to laugh at your comment though about how you “would use your quiet, competitive nature to thrash them all.” Made me think of us playing Monopoly at the cabin with Joe and how he kept calling you “Ice.” I have a feeling you could win the Derby BIG time if you entered. Go for it! πŸ™‚

  • Catherine - It’s posts like this that will keep an avid under the sycamore reader! Thank you for being culturally well rounded, haha! If you’re ever in Michigan in the fall, there’s a hilarious/awesome event called “Bus Mania”… similar to a demolition derby but they get a little creative with the races and they use school buses (which have been painted various bright colors). Anyway, thanks for being you, it’s refreshing!

  • Brook S. - Another SE Kansas reader here…demo derby’s have been big around here…my hubby and his friends used to race in them all the time! Those were the pre-kiddo days and this post made me remember those days all over again! They actually used to do a powder puff round after it was all said and done…the girls would get in the cars that still ran and have 1 round to themselves…it was awesome!

  • Kristy C - I love demo derbies! Eric looked at me like I was nuts after going to my first one and telling him I want to be in a derby. Deep down inside there is this girl who wants to wear ripped jeans, black boots, hot pink tank top, have grease all over my hands and face, and have a look that says “Bring it” to all the demo drivers:)

  • amanda torres - I am totally cracking up because you would do this, and it the most crafted up car that Woman’s Day magazine would feature. So hilarious!

  • DebZorn - You could totally win the derby, in the catagory – Small but mighty!

    You photos are awesome, as usual. I especially like the one of “yelling boy vs. scowling boy.” So cute.

  • Lyndsey - I love this post! My husband does this every year in Michigan where we live. He even won the whole thing once! It was awesome! Your hubby could totally do it and would love it…not to mention how awesome your boys would think it was for there dad to do that!

  • Shelley G - Haha. Love it! Love the kiddos faces. That’s crazy about the guy getting back in the car. Sounds like a lot of fun to watch!

  • Molly - It was on our summer “to do” list to go to a demo derby….but we haven’t had any close to our home. We will get to one…I think my girls would love it! My 3 year old says “best day ever!” all the time for the smallest most simple things…makes me happy:)

  • nicole - I’m a big fan of demo derbys! My brother did it once with a neighbor’s old car. It was awesome.
    The next type of derby you need to attend….a combine derby. Unless if it is just an Iowa thing. πŸ™‚

  • cailan - Such fantastic fun pics of your kids/family – curious what action you used? Sorry for your stress…still hoping you’ll share “A Day in the Life” and maybe some of your schedule making tactics, please? πŸ™‚

  • allison - This post was great! I went to my first Monster Truck show a few weeks ago and totally loved it. Glad you all had a ton of fun πŸ™‚

  • Emily Lusk - Looks like we are going to have to go to one of those now!! What a great thing for a boy to go to!

  • lyn - πŸ™‚

  • K - Your car would be the prettiest. And, yes–you would totally win. I would cheer for you.
    You inspire me to do a lot of things–didn’t expect that one of those would be to attend a derby. Gotta look for one of those locally.

  • K - Your car would be the prettiest. And, yes–you would totally win. I would cheer for you.
    You inspire me to do a lot of things–didn’t expect that one of those would be to attend a derby. Gotta look for one of those locally.

  • Jill - Demo Derbys.. definitely more likeable than noodling! At our little county fair the firetrucks spray water and make the pit a mudhole to keep the cars at a much slower speed. We have learned to stay away from the first few rows otherwise you walk out looking like a mud monster. I have a feeling your boys would be sitting in one of the first few rows and loving it.

  • the whyte house - oh. my. goodness. you & chris crack me up.

  • Yolanda - I am a California city girl and LOVE a demolition derby. Only thing that tops it is the thrill of a Figure 8 race. Cars that smash into each other is just plain fun. And if you can’t find thrashing metal fun, we can’t be friends. As for you, yeah, you could totally do it. Building a derby car is just crafting with a blow torch.

  • Lori - Best.Day.Ever.Favorite.Post.Ever. – I love this!!!!! I love the pics of your kids in amazement. too cool and your angles. My favorite pic is the guy and the burning car. that is so derby…
    I can’t imagine sitting in a car and waiting to be hit. that totally scares me. If you did do the derby- your car would be painted a beauuuutiful shade of turquoise with spray painted doilies on it and it would have an awesome garland of ribbons and paper flying from the antenna…and the rearview mirror would have the most incredible dangly thing that you “just happend to make” right before the race started!! :0)

  • Monica - I’ve never been to a Demo Derby, but it sure does look like fun! I could use a little de-stresser. So glad you guys had the Best.Day.Ever.

  • Abigail - LoL! Thanks, I need a laugh this Monday πŸ™‚

  • Trudy - Visions of Happy Days and the Fonz as I read your post. Sounds like a lot of fun!

  • Emily - This is like all of the best episodes of Top Gear (the British Version.)

    DO IT!

  • Rachel - Thanks for posting this great entry. What is culture, or what does it mean to be cultured is a question for the ages. This post reminded me of your post awhile ago on your thoughts regarding being a crafter verse being an artist… Questions to ponder!

  • Danielle - This was your first demolition derby??? OH MY GOODNESS girl… you have missed so much metal crunching fun! Every fall our local fall fair (a three day event) has the big derby on Saturday night… you have to get a seat hours before the start it is so popular (and we are not a huge town). The tractor pull is also a crowd pleaser at our house… but it is SUPER loud and the kids need serious ear protection. I too have thought about entering the derby… how much fun would that be? There is usually a girl driver or two each year… oh yeah! I can totally picture your awesomely decorated wheels and the look of the fellas faces when you kick it out! Now I am getting excited for the fair only a few short weeks away. Great fun post Ashley!

  • Ali - SO awesome!!! Have you seen the preview for that new show “Hillbilly Handfishing!!??” It made me think of your Okie Noodling post!

  • Kimberly - Awesome pics! The looks on your boys faces are priceless! Now I understand why my little guy was yelling, “BEST. DAY. EVER!” at the beach this weekend. So sweet.

    (can I ask if you are using an action on your photos? If so, do you mind me asking what it is? I love the tones!!)

  • Melissa - I haven’t been to the derby in a few years, but there is just something fabulous about banged up cars and fires. I can’t wait until my little one is old enough to enjoy one!

  • Jaime A. - The best part of the evening – the pictures of the kiddos! Loved them all! Glad you had a great time! We used to take my oldest one when he was little (he’s now almost 16). He loved it!

  • Shanalea - So had to show the boys this post. I was commenting on the guy getting back into the car….I said isn’t that hilarious and #2 says no, that is awesome. It looks as though a demo derby may be in our future. I can totally see how it would be a great stress reliever and it would be even better if you were the driver.

  • Stacey Ball - I can’t wait for the post about when you participate in your cutely decorated car!!

  • Victoria / Justice Pirate - Oh my gosh. that seems like such an exciting time! Lovely!

  • Robyn Lee - LOL!!!! What a fun post… and I love the conversation you had with your husband. It sounds exactly like something that would happen between my husband and I. HaHaHa!

  • colleen from alabama - Oh my word! I am all by myself laughing out loud. I don’t know you but i’m sure you could do it. You might even class the joint up a bit:) Can you tell i’m from alabama?

  • emmybrown - haha! This is an awesome post! I love demo derbys and have always thought my car would be the coolest too. I would LOVE to do it….I’ve just become too chicken in my old age!!! πŸ™ But, I would totally root for you!!!! You go girl!!

  • Trish - “My car would look awesome too. You know I could totally do it. No one would take me seriously. I would use my quiet, competitive nature to thrash them all. I could do it.”

    you are so cute.

  • BeckyH - O.M.G.
    I LOVE these photos!!
    Being a participant in a demolition derby is on my Bucket List.
    Thank you for the inspiration! πŸ™‚

  • able mabel - I can see how that would relieve some pent up stress! How fun!

  • Kimberly - LOVE Demo Derby! You would ROCK at a Derby! Keep us posted if you do=) Where did you get FireCracker’s new Wonder Woman shirt?? It is Wonder Woman right?

  • Joan M - I think you could!

  • Jessica P. - Love the boys’ expressions in these pictures. You can tell how “into it” they were. And, yes, you could totally do it! How does that saying go…”It’s always the quiet ones.” πŸ™‚

  • Sarah - I LOVE it! I’ve never been to a demo durby, or any other type of racing/crashing/ car related sport, but growing up my grandpa had a racing car he’d take to the local race track and compete in. I wish I had been old enough to understand it all and make him take me with him! His passion for the sport though is still one of my favorite memories of him. πŸ™‚

  • Emily - I’ve grown up my whole life going to the derby…..SO FUN!!!!!!!

  • Emily B - You need to head up to North Dakota—we have derbys, poweder puff derbys for the ladies, and combine/tractor derbies πŸ™‚

  • Margaret - I LOVE the picture of all the boys in amazement! So fun!!

  • Stephanie Campbell - But, see, you could win by default. Do you think the other drivers would really take you seriously when they saw a car painted turquoise and covered in doilies and flowery buntings? You could totally hit them blind-sided!! Just make sure you give your blog readers enough warning that we can be there to watch.

  • Darcie - I used to think the very same thing about playing football. (I’m from Texas.) “Maybe the Dallas Cowboys would draft me. No one would want to hit a girl, right? So I could just run down the field and score and they’d all be dumbfounded.” Anyway, probably not as satisfying as smashing a car on purpose. πŸ™‚

  • amac - That looks like SO much fun! Makes me want to go to one the next time we’re in the states πŸ™‚

  • Stefanie - I have so many great childhood memories from the demolition derbies! If I remember correctly atleast in my hometown they would do a “powder puff” type demo for the women that wanted to participate those are fun to watch, you are fearless I think you would have a great time!

  • Krystina - You would have the prettiest car EVER!

  • Aunt Sandy - I can totally see you doing that! The only thing missing, me right there with you. That looks like way too much fun. I’m ready if you are!!!!!!

  • VΓ©nusia - I think if you only have daughter you just can’t understand the joy of watching that kind of thing ! Thank God for boys !

  • Jodi - Ashley- what lens did you take to the derby that you could get more than one face in the stands and still get the car shots?!!

  • Carolyn Hunter - Hi,Ashley. I am Mark’s mom and I am so glad we could share you pictures! We were not able to go to the derby this time. Ask Mark about the derby he was in when his car caught on fire, he jumps out the window, grabs HIS fire extinquisher, puts out the fire before the fire crew gets to him, gets back in the car and starts it up! CRAZY and exciting!!!

  • Asha - I’ve been wanting to bring my son to a Demo Derby for years but every year something else comes up. I just told my husband, “next year we’re going”!

  • amber - i have often thought it would be such a great stress reliever to be in a demo derby, crashing things up and making a mess without having to clean it up afterwards! if you caught me in a certain mood on any given day i would join in a heartbeat! if you do do this, you should strap a web cam to your helmet and share it with us all so we could live vicariously through your experience! : ) go ashley!

  • Elizabeth K - They have a demo derby at the NC state fair and I went for the first time last year. It was so much fun. I can’t wait to go again this year!