FARMINGTON -- Given people's love of watching cars ram into one another, Legacy Events Center in Farmington brought the popular summer event indoors for the winter and hosted its first indoor demolition derby.
Monday night's event drew a crowd of more than 1,000 spectators.
Drivers worked on their cars between heats in the single-digit weather inside a make-shift tent outside the arena -- a far cry from the warm outdoor weather of the summer derbies. They repaired axles, changed flat tires, fixed batteries, and tweaked injured transmissions and engines; others simply accepted the reality that it would take a miracle to get their car running before the next round.
But the cold temperature was a small price to pay for the 23 drivers who participated in the event, because there weren't any other demolition derbies scheduled this season in the area.
Once word got out that an indoor demolition derby was being scheduled in the winter, Chad Bangerter, of Full Throttle Power Sports, organizer of the event, said the limited spots were filled in two days. The derby was also produced by Stirrin' Dirt Racing.
One of the drivers in the competition, Jeff Boyer, drove 500 miles from where he lives in Greeley, Colo., to participate in the event.
"There are not many derbies in the winter, since it's hard to work on cars in the winter cold," Boyer said.
He has been participating in demolition derbies for more than 15 years and usually stays within 100 miles of his hometown for derbies. But he couldn't resist participating in this winter event.
"I really enjoy the adrenaline rush," he said. "Where else do you get to crash cars and not get into trouble?"
Spectators were just as excited about the event.
This was Nichole Warden's second indoor demolition derby.
"Outdoor derbies are better, because it's bigger, but what are you going to do in the winter?" asked Warden, of Bountiful, who was at the event with her son and a couple of friends. "It's a good family activity, and we enjoy the exhilaration and excitement."
The crowd was bundled in winter gear, given that fresh air from outside was being vented into the building to handle the cars' exhaust. Officials were continually monitoring carbon dioxide levels during the event.
Boyer said he has driven in one other indoor derby, where the ventilation wasn't as good, and the smoke from the cars really limited visibility. He didn't have the same problem during this week's demolition derby at the Legacy Events Center.
A disadvantage to an indoor demolition derby is the smaller arena. After the first heat, several drivers talked about not being able to go as fast as they are used to in an outdoor arena. Another disadvantage is shutting off their engines during the competition if any part of their car started smoking too badly.
One car lit up into a fireball from its engine compartment after crashing into another car. That incident had all of the cars in stop mode while the driver was evacuated, though the flames were extinguished before the emergency fire crews were needed.
Regardless of location, the derby has the same regulations, with car parts flying, tires spinning, smoke churning and cars battering into one another.
Kelsey Sweet, of Layton, was cheering on her uncle, one of the drivers in the race. She has attended countless derbies and hopes to one day drive a derby car herself.
"I love the whole intense smashing into cars, which is really cool," she said.
The event was successful enough that organizers have decided to plan another indoor demolition derby in a few months.