La PORTE — The annual International Demolition Derby is again racing back to the La Porte County Fairgrounds on Saturday.
More than 100 vehicles are expected to enter the motor-and-metal melee, which is set to begin at 3 p.m. inside the fairgrounds' grandstand. Drivers from all over the state will compete in the Indiana Championship, closing out the derby season.
Organizers promise four-hours of horse-powered destruction. The derby will feature five classes: a regular demolition derby, trucks and vans, six cylinder mid-size, mini car demolition derby, power wheels, garden tractors and four and six cylinder figure "8" races.
The International Demolition Derby operates 21 derbies in five states throughout the year. They have been performing during the La Porte County Fair for more than 20 years.
The International Demolition Derby annually hosts a fall "encore" event at the fairgrounds, said organizer Dennis Nelson, of Kingsbury. During fair week in July, the organization hosts three nights of demolition derby action, which always packs the grandstand bleachers, Nelson said.
With such a strong response during the summer, the autumn show is a way for the derby give the people of what they want, he said.
"We started doing this as a 'thank you' for the people who come and support us during fair week," Nelson said. "Without the crowd, there wouldn't be a derby."
The two-month hiatus does little to damper the size of the crowd, as between 2,000 to 4,000 people come out to cheer on the mechanical mayhem at the fairgrounds every September, Nelson said. Drivers participation is also high, with nearly 140 vehicles participating in the carnage last year, he added.
Among the vehicles entering the fray is a custom-built machine, painted by local Girl Scouts. Visitors will have a chance to sign the car before the event for $1, with organizers donating the money to the Scipio Township Volunteer Fire Department, Nelson said.
Gates open at 1 p.m., giving visitors a chance to check out the beer tent and grab a bite to eat from the multiple food vendors that will also be in attendance.
Grandstand seats are $10, and children 5 and younger get in free. Pit passes are $15 for all ages. The driver entry is free.
This year, Boy Scout and Girl Scout members who show up to the event in uniform will also receive free admission.
Tickets are available at the La Porte County Fair Office, or they can be purchased at the gate the day of the event.
"It doesn't matter if you are 8 or 80 — everyone loves the demolition derby," Nelson said. "It will be a great time, so come on out."
For more information, call (219) 324-4813, (219) 363-8896 or the Fair Office at (219) 362-2647.
—From staff reports