Rotary Destruction Derby returns |

Rotary Destruction Derby returns

James Lester, right, and Orren Carman of North State Welding.

It’s back! The infamous Destruction Derby has returned to the 2014 Nevada County Fair, with a new set of leaders. The derby this Sunday is being locally produced by five of Nevada County’s Rotary Clubs — the Rotary Club of Nevada City, Rotary Club of Nevada County South, 49er Breakfast Rotary of Nevada City, Penn Valley Rotary and Rotary Club of Grass Valley.

“The derby was canceled last year so they could restructure the program,” said Allison Swartzendruber, co-chair of Rotary’s Nevada County Destruction Derby and former president of Rotary Nevada County South.

“There were a lot of different ideas of how things should be run,” Swartzendruber said.

“The drivers were not happy with the way things were, so this year we’re taking a different approach. For the first time ever, proceeds are being donated back into our community — it’s an all local show.”

“The Nevada County Fairgrounds is extremely pleased that the Rotarians, who are leaders in our community, are taking on the production of the Destruction Derby at the Fair,” said Sandy Woods, CEO of the Nevada County Fairgrounds, in a press release.

“This event will be a truly locally produced event, and we are excited to be able to offer this entertainment to our community.”

The event is expected to last approximately two hours and includes an opening ceremony to honor local veterans, as well as a performance of the National Anthem and Pledge of Allegiance.

In addition to the main event, there will be a contest for the prettiest car, based on which vehicle receives the loudest praise from the crowd.

One of the drivers, James Lester, is bringing a breast cancer awareness component to the derby. Lester, owner of North State Welding, painted the two cars he is entering pink and black. The two vehicles are currently parked outside the fairgrounds and local breast cancer survivors are encouraged to sign their names on the hood, according to Swartzendruber.

“That’s another really cool element of the derby this year,” said Swartzendruber, “The survivor names sort of represent a good-luck charm.”

According to Swartzendruber, they’re anticipating approximately 15 cars in the derby. The arena is expected to completely fill up Sunday evening, as almost all the tickets are sold out.

“The derby is probably one of the easiest fill out events at the fair,” she said. “The way the guys have transformed these cars is amazing, these men travel all over and do this everywhere.

“I’m extremely grateful towards the community who has come behind me like none other. People are always approaching me, asking if I need anything or how they can help,” she said.

“I feel very lucky to be working on this event, I’m excited that it’s local and I’m hoping the Fairgrounds will let the Rotarians do it again next year.”

The Destruction Derby takes place at 7 p.m. this Sunday. Tickets are $15 for adults and $8 for kids 12 and younger.

Maya Anderman is an intern with The Union. She can be reached at

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User