Memorial Day is just around the corner and communities across the country will be breaking out the bands and staging patriotic parades. But for many people, nothing compares with the All-American adrenaline rush that comes from watching Old Glory flying behind a Humvee on the oval track at Route 66 in Joliet.
With flags flying and Detroit’s finest relics primed for battle, Team Demolition Association (TDA) will kick off its 2012 season with the first of five themed nights. Fittingly, this long-awaited Memorial Day weekend opener will feature a salute to the nation’s armed forces. Each of the eight teams will represent a different branch of the service with specially designed beauty cars being trotted out before the teams square off for battle.
But the beauty of Military Appreciation Night goes more than skin deep as the TDA will also be accepting donations on behalf of the Wounded Warrior Project. They are urging attendees to “dig through the couch cushions, empty the cup holders, and gather spare coins” to throw into giant collection jars beginning at the free pit party.
President Sherri Heckenast took over the reins of the TDA in September of 2010 and has been a tireless supporter of causes ranging from Wounded Warriors to Breast Cancer Awareness. She has also been instrumental in getting more national coverage for this Chicago-based sport. The Speed Channel will be filming Saturday’s event for airing at a later date.
With the focus on Military Appreciation Night, Heckenast noted that there will be several members of the armed forces participating in the evening’s events. For instance, Mean Green is representing the Army and the team will have a crew of 10-12 soldiers around to cheer them on.
In a unique tie-in to the evening’s theme, the Orange Crush team will have an active member of the military on hand to pass out souvenir stress balls. These mementos are being offered to the first 250 people who make a donation to the Wounded Warrior Project. As a perennial team demo powerhouse and 2010 champion, Orange Crush has a large fan base so these mementos are sure to be snapped up quickly at the pit party.
Orange Crush owner Ken Kasper originally was going to make a donation on behalf of the team but hit on the idea that this incentive will actually raise more money for the Wounded Warrior Project. Kasper said that “this is something that can’t be bought” and he’s right. The sight of a uniformed member of the military in the midst of a raucous pit party is sure to hammer home the significance of the sacrifices made by our nation’s veterans.
The pit party also gives the eight teams the opportunity to show off their true colors and classic beauty cars. Since Team Demolition bills itself as the place “where cars come to die,” these vintage vehicles will lose their looks rather quickly. Kasper said that Ron “Iron Man” Tyrakowski will race the 1982 4-door Cadillac with Navy Seals decals and décor in the first round.
The Chicago area can lay claim to inventing Team Demolition Derby, which has been described as “ the hardest-hitting action you’ll ever see.” The format is relatively simple: Two teams take on each other in the first round with the winners of each bracket advancing to the second round. The final two teams meet up in the third round to determine who reigns supreme for the evening. Points are awarded on how far the team progresses in each night’s contest. There are five races slated for 2012 with the championship scheduled for September 22nd.
In past seasons there have been a few clear-cut championship prospects but Heckenast echoed the sentiments of many when she said that all 8 teams should be extremely competitive this season. She added that “not one team is suffering and everybody’s trying to get to the top.”
If you’d like to get in on the ground floor of “the craziest demolition derby action in the country,” it’s time to get a jump on some discount ticket offers. Order before Friday, May 25th and save $4 per ticket. Or, purchase a season pass for all five events and save $25! Call the Route 66 ticket office at 888-629-7223 or online at www.Route66raceway.com. Route 66 is located 3 miles south of Interstate 80 on Il. Rte. 53.
The Event schedule is as follows:
Parking lot opens: 4:00 pm
FREE Pit Party behind grandstands: 5:00 pm
Opening Ceremonies/Beauty Contest: 7:15 pm
Team Demo Round 1 (4 Races) 7:30 pm
Team Demo Semi-Finals
Team Demo Final Round
Mean Green Machine—Army
Seek and Destroy—Navy
Orange Crush—Navy SEALs
Damage, Inc—Air National Guard