Clements happy to have his cars smashed up
''You get out there and smash each other up. It's fantastic fun.''
Those were the comments of Steve Clements, the defending champion going into today's demolition derby at Riverside Speedway.
The derby, solely for street cars, is the last race of the season at Riverside. It is open to the public as long as drivers have a current driver's licence. For non-speedway drivers, a special licence for the day must be bought at the Riverside office.
The driver of the last car moving receives the winner's cheque, possibly $750. A stirrer's prize will be given to the driver who goes out of their way to crash into others.
The bad luck prize could be given to a driver whose car stops and won't restart at the beginning of the derby.
Most classes of stock cars will also be in action today, culminating with the derby. The first of about 20 races will start at 1pm.
If the meeting is rained off it will be held tomorrow.
Clements drives only in the derby because he is busy on race days in his role as an official and organiser of the youth saloons grade.
He has vivid memories of last year's win.
''My car was basically wrecked. It was barely moving when we finished.''
Derby rules include: drivers' doors cannot be hit; if a car stops for more than a minute, it is eliminated, as are cars that lose bonnets; cars must go over a ramp on each lap and race in the same direction.
Six stewards are in charge of the derby, including two known as sheriffs who will be in streetstock cars inside the track.
Drivers breaking rules and not leaving the track after being asked, will be pushed off by a sheriff's streetstock.
Clements has four cars entered. He will drive a Nissan Primera, while his other cars are to be driven by his daughter Asha (Toyota Celica), Daniel Harper (Nissan Bluebird) and Kevin Cunningham (Ford Laser).
The four cars were found in a variety of places.
''The bluebird was under trees for a year at Pukemaori,'' Clements said.
''The Laser was in a Drummond dairy farm shed, the Toyota in a paddock at Riversdale and the Primera in a paddock on Bainfield [Invercargill].''
Clements thought at least 40 cars would take part in the derby, with most of them ending up at scrap metal yards.
Southland Stockcar Drivers' Association vice-president Megan Molloy said a few cars had survived a derby and returned the next year.
Clements is not hopeful of back-to-back wins in the derby, believing he will be targeted and knocked out early. It doesn't worry him.
''The adrenaline rush you get out of it [competing] is fantastic .It's going to be a big one.'