Kalona Cooks: Demolition Derbys – an acceptable manifestation of road rage

By Mary Marek
Posted 7/8/99

It’s been a pretty quiet couple of weeks at my house since the Kalona Days excitement is past. I did spend a little time in Riverside last weekend, though, during Trek Fest.

I’ve never gone to …

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Kalona Cooks: Demolition Derbys – an acceptable manifestation of road rage


It’s been a pretty quiet couple of weeks at my house since the Kalona Days excitement is past. I did spend a little time in Riverside last weekend, though, during Trek Fest.

I’ve never gone to Trek Fest before. It’s never really appealed to me. I don’t mean the celebration itself, just the reason for it. I was never a Star Trek fan when the show was on TV. I guess I don’t really care for science fiction that much, period. So a celebration planned around on a Star Trek theme didn’t seem like my cup of tea.

For those of you who don’t watch TV, I’ll try to explain. Star Trek was a television show that was on the air back in the ‘70s (I think – I told you, I wasn’t a fan). It was about a bunch of people who lived on a space ship (or starship, as it was called on Star Trek) and flew all around the galaxy, fighting evil aliens. Although with these guys, it was kinda hard to tell who the aliens were. I mean, the First Mate, Mr. Spock, was only half-human, and I don’t think it was the half that produced his pointy ears.

The whole Trek Fest thing in Riverside started when someone over there decided that Captain James T. Kirk, the commander of the space ship in the show (it’s name was the Enterprise, by the way), was born in Riverside. I mean, will be born in Riverside, since he hasn’t actually been born yet. Start Trek took place in the future, you see. None of it has actually happened yet. (I know I’m leaving out a lot of little details here, but let’s not sweat the small stuff.)

So Trek Fest is an annual celebration of something that hasn’t, and probably won’t, happen. Like my cousin, Mike Zahs, commented to me the other day, there’s something just a little “off” about celebrating “future history”.

Now, I’m not criticizing Riverside in any way for holding Trek Fest every year. I’m all in favor of any celebration that brings a community together. (I let myself get hit in the face with a cream pie for Kalona Days, didn’t I?) And, after spending a little time at Trek Fest this year, I might go back again.

The reason I went this year was because Mark, who usually covers events in Riverside for The Kalona News and The Highland Review, couldn’t be there Friday evening. He asked me to get some pictures of the Kiddie Parade, pet show and demolition derby and, since I didn’t have anything else going on and, as usual, Jim was going to be working late, I said I would.

The Kiddie Parade was cute and just what it sounds like – a bunch of kids parading down the street. A couple of them were even throwing candy to the folks on the sidewalk.

After the parade was over, the pets lined up for their turn. Most of the pets were dogs, but there were a few cats and a pony in the line-up. I never heard who won, but if I’d been voting, I’d have voted for the Frisbee-catching dog. He (or maybe she – I didn’t get close enough to check) was great.

After the pet show, I headed south to the demo derby. I had run into a couple of friends at the Kiddie Parade, Tina and her daughter Maggie, and they went to the demo derby with me.

Now, Tina and Maggie have lived near Riverside for a very long time and they’ve gone to many Trek Fests, but, would you believe, they had never been to a demolition derby.

One of their first questions was “What is it” or words to that effect. Well, as any normal person knows, a demolition derby is a competition where people (usually men; most women aren’t this stupid) drive their cars into an arena and crash into other cars.

The next question, of course, was, “Why?” (Or words to that effect). Why not?

Seriously, I’m not sure why. Because they can? I mean, really, just think about it. Racing, I can understand. The purpose of a race is to see who can go fastest. Preferably without damaging whatever is being used in the race (horse, car, bike, feet, whatever).

In a demolition derby, the whole point is to inflict as much damage as possible to the other cars. While you’re inflicting damage to the other entries, they are doing their best to demolish you. Whoever is still moving at the end is the winner.

But even the winner limps out of the arena full of dents.

Now, if you’ll turn to another page in this week’s paper, you’ll see that my friend, Tina, was so fascinated with the whole thing, she tracked down one of the participants and wrote her column, Trailin’, about him. If you read her column you’ll find that these guys put a lot of time, energy and money into these cars. Just so they can take them out and wreck them. On purpose.

I’ve wrecked a few cars over the years, but never on purpose. In fact, I go to great lengths to avoid wrecking cars. I admit there are times I’m tempted to ram into another driver, if that driver has just done something really stupid, but I control these urges. Not only would it be against the law to intentionally hit another car on the road, it would be stupid and dangerous.

I think I just figured out the “why” of demolition derbys. You keep all that road rage that builds up during normal driving, and let it all out in a demolition derby. Not only is crashing into other cars allowed, it’s encouraged. The harder you hit somebody, the louder the crowd cheers.

After watching the first heat in the derby, Tina and I looked at each other and said, almost simultaneously, “I could do that!” I think Maggie thought we were nuts, but I think it would be a great tension reliever.

Does anyone have a couple of cars we could borrow? We’ll only need them for a few minutes. Hope you’ve got good insurance.

This week’s recipes

This week we’re cooking corn. Mom made these corn oysters the other day, and they were great.

Corn Oysters

1 1/2 c. raw corn kernels

1 c. finely crushed saltine crackers (about 29)

1/3 cup 1% lowfat milk

2 large eggs

1/4 tsp. pepper

1 tbsp. Canola (or vegetable) oil

Mix all ingredients except oil in a medium bowl until well blended.

Heat half the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Drop 6 heaping tablespoonfuls corn mixture onto skillet. Cook 2 minutes, turn with a spatula and cook 2 minutes more until lightly browned. Repeat with remaining mixture.

Serves 4.

Corn and Okra Fry

1 1/2 tbsp. butter

2 c. raw corn kernels

1 c. sliced scallions

8 oz. small whole okra, tips and stems trimmed

1 can (14 1/2 oz.) diced tomatoes

1/2 tsp. each dried thyme and salt

Heat butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until foam subsides. Stir in corn and scallions and sauté 2 minutes. Remove to a bowl.

Add remaining ingredients to skillet. Cover and cook 3-4 minutes until okra is barely tender. Uncover and cook 2 minutes longer or until juice from tomatoes has nearly evaporated. Stir in corn and scallions.

Serves 4.

Mexican Salad

3 c. raw or cooked fresh corn kernels

1 can (about 15 oz.) black beans, rinsed

3 ripe tomatoes cut in chunks

1 each green and red bell pepper, chopped

1/3 c. chopped cilantro

1/4 c. olive oil

3 tbsp. fresh lime juice

1 tsp. each minced garlic, salt and pepper

Stir all ingredients in a 2 1/2-qt. serving bowl.

Serves 8.