A documentary that shows the motor, grease, and danger that surrounds this iconic piece of southern culture.

The Highland County Demolition Derby is one of the biggest events of the year, bringing neighbors, relatives, and friends together in one epic battle for pride and bragging rights (and a $200 cash payout).

The Cast:

Trey Williams and JD Heiner – Close friends who have over 40 years of derby experience between the two of them. They also both have teenage sons who will be competing with their fathers in next year’s derby.

BJ Wilson – Part of the Bowers family, a family out of Franklin, WV. The Bowers have had a friendly rivalry with the residents of Monterey, VA for over a decade.

Richie Hanger – The local UPS driver. Amazing man and friendly as heck – it was his first demolition derby.

Rudy Rudd – Owner of R&R Productions and the announcer. He’s been putting on various types of demolition derbies throughout the East Coast since the early 80’s.

What I Learned:

Car tactics

A good car means a good derby, and a good car means old. Made out of pure iron and steel, cars made in the 70’s and 80’s are hot commodities. These relics of the American automotive heyday are heavy and powerful, making these cars a solid choice that’ll last a driver for multiple competitions.

Family Rivalry and State Pride.

There is a long-standing rivalry between the Bowers family out of Franklin, WV and the local competitors out of Monterey, VA. This friendly rivalry not only reflects the competitive spirit between drivers, but also showcases the pride of two rival states whose borders zig-zag between valleys and towns.

Durability and Trust Trumps Luxury.

The contestants in the Demolition Derby are loyal, welcoming, and they value dependability and ruggedness over price and ingenuity. If something ain’t broke, they don’t fix it, and if something doesn’t live up to their standards of durability, they’ll move on to something more dependable. When their demolition car competes in its last derby, they’ll scrap it for parts and go find the same type of car, often buying the exact year and model as before.

Extended Cut: Go Pro Footage

I outfitted two cars with GoPros. One of the cars stalled as soon as the round began, but the other went almost the whole match, providing a glimpse into the raw chaos and whiplash of the pit.