Everybody loves a car crash, don’t they?

I mean, nobody wants to see anyone get hurt. But if there’s a way to watch tires squealing, bumpers smashing and metal ripping without any injuries, lots of people will line up to see it.

And line up they do, at the Friday-night Car Wars event at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough, held in August each year since 2004.

Sometimes they have as many as 3,000 people in the grandstand to watch races where bumping and crashing is not just allowed, it’s encouraged.

“People like to see a crash, but in our regular racing nights the point is to win, not to intentionally crash,” said Andy Cusack, owner of Beech Ridge. “So we created Car Wars, where the point is to run into each other, spin each other out. We call it road rage therapy.”

What makes Car Wars different from some traditional demolition derbies is that the cars are racing around the track while smashing into each other.

So how is that done safely?

Well, for one thing, the track is set up in such a way that there are wider areas away from the walls where drivers are supposed to hit each other, Cusack said.

Plus, the track is partitioned off with tires to create sort of a zig-zag pattern for the cars to follow, so they can’t get nearly the kind of speed they would get on a normal race night at Beech Ridge.

It creates a whole new kind of racing.

“A driver may be in the lead, but he knows somebody is going to smash into him, so he drives defensively,” said Cusack. “Sometimes, they run up on the tires and they get stuck.”

Car Wars was created because Cusack was looking for something that might captivate folks who “aren’t interested in the nuts and bolts of motor sports, or any sports.”

So besides being full-contact races, the cars don’t have numbers on them. They have names like Bumblebee or SpongeBob, and are painted up to look more like characters than cars.

The races are called Rocker Derbies, and they are just part of the show at Car Wars. There are also Two Wheel Wonder demonstrations, when drivers maneuver their cars over a ramp that leaves them on two wheels. Sometimes, the ramp leaves the car on its roof.

A new addition to Car Wars is a drag racing segment, but contact isn’t encouraged there. Just speed.

Another cool thing for race fans is the end of the hour-and-a-half show, when people can come onto the track to meet drivers and get autographs.

And get souvenirs.

“People can come out and see and touch cars that are still smoking and steaming, and we often see kids pick up a battery cover or something and bring it home,” said Cusack.

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: RayRouthier


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