Normally thousands fill the stands at the Hope Sports Bowl to watch the demolition derby at Brigade Days, yet the 52nd derby was kept top secret so as not to attract too many spectators. (Hope Motorsports Group photo)

‘Top secret’ demolition derby continues 52-year tradition in Hope

Sunday derby drew 19 cars, but no crowds in an event used to thousands of spectators

It was coined ‘COVID Crash 2020’ and if you weren’t in the know, you likely would have missed the action in the sports bowl this past Sunday, Sept. 13.

Hope Motorsports Group, who have been putting on a demolition derby every year on Brigade Days weekend for over five decades, thought it would be a shame to break this streak. The derby is definitely the longest continuously run derby in B.C. with 52 years under its belt after this weekend, organizer Scott Medlock confirmed.

“(We) probably are the longest continuously running derby in Canada, maybe even North America. We have to do some homework on that,” he added.

It was important not to make too much noise about the event, Medlock said, as Fraser Health told organizers not to exceed 50 participants and not to advertise on social media beforehand among other measures.

So “it was top secret” said Medlock. The group attracted participants using a short notice posted online, asking people if they had a ride built for that day and that they should contact organizers.

“We ended up getting 19 vehicles out in total,” he said. “And it was great. It was all people who wanted to do it, not for prize money, but just to be a part of it.”

“We wanted so badly to tell the community that they might want to go for a walk by the park, up by the skate park, but just didn’t want to have a bad news story from a gathering,” Medlock said.

Without the crowds normally present at Brigade Days, the derby was a very different experience this year. On a regular year, you would see upwards of 4,000 to 5,000 spectators filling the concrete stands above the sports bowl. Brigade Days organizers made the difficult decision to cancel this year’s event after 51 years, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Read more: Hope’s Brigade Days cancelled for first time in history

This year, participation down in the bowl was capped at 47 and Dave Mawhinney donated his time as an announcer. People from a nearby ball tournament drifted to the stands to watch, but they appeared to be properly spaced out Medlock said. And without a crowd the Motorsports Group wasn’t able to raise funds, which they usually do at the derbys to support local causes like Hope Volunteer Search and Rescue and the Hope Crime Prevention Society.

The event went like clockwork, Medlock said, starting at 1 p.m. with 19 vehicles participating in total. Six cars took part in the full size derby, with Kevin Staves and Martin Zarn tied for first, and Scott Meloshinksy taking third place.

In the small car derby, involving seven cars, Mike Theobald came in first place followed by Britni Joinson (second) and Ethan Hickson (third). The minivan derby, with six vans participating, had Jamie Heier in first followed by Sam Antonishka (second) and Mike Theobald (third).

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Even in the midst of a pandemic, the Hope Motorsports Group held their own as the longest continuously running demolition derby in B.C. with an event held over the weekend with 19 vehicles and no official spectators. (Hope Motorsports Group photo)

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