By Bill Sullivan for the Placerville PPOA
PLACERVILLE, CA - This Sunday, August 17th, Placerville Speedway will host the sounds of smashing sheet metal the roar of smoking engines and cheering spectators as one of El Dorado County’s oldest charitable events celebrates its 41st consecutive year. It’s time for the classic Placerville Police Officers Association’s Annual Hangtown Destruction Derby, an afternoon of car crushing mayhem that is fun for the entire family.
Now over four decades strong the annual Hangtown Destruction Derby is presented by the Placerville Police Officers Association in conjunction with the cooperation of El Dorado County Fire, Placerville Speedway and the business community of El Dorado County. The competition in the event is well populated by men and women representing law enforcement and public safety agencies along with entries of the daring type from the general public in a contest of mechanical survival on a mud filled infield of the fairgrounds main arena.
As the Hangtown Destruction Derby begins it’s fifth decade, it continues to one of the oldest and most successful annual events that benefits charity in El Dorado County. Through the years, proceeds from the derby have benefited a number of organizations such as youth sports, children’s charities and the Police Officers annual Christmas party for underprivileged children. The bottom line, the annual Hangtown Destruction Derby is fun for the whole family and in the end, it’s all presented for a good cause.
The 2014 version of the Hangtown Destruction Derby is sure to be bigger and better than ever as the program has been expanded to include two different divisions for the first time in the event histoy. For many years, common derby rules have required that a car be 1970 or newer to compete in the derby. This ruling eliminated the heavy cars of yesteryear, such at Chrysler Imperials and others, that are known for their stealth construction and invincibility. This year, fans are in for treat as the Placerville Police Officers Association will present a “stock” class as well as an “open” class.
With the two classes, two champions will be crowned at the end of the afternoon with winners of each of the super mains earning a healthy $1000. Second place earns $500 and third place wins $300. Heat races will pay $150 to the winner, $100 to second place and $50 to third. In addition to the cash winnings top finishers are awarded trophies for their success. As of press time, Ron Cannon or the Placerville Police Officers Association was expecting in the neighborhood of 30 cars in the combined classes.
Entrants in this annual event routinely acquire the vehicle themselves and then use area sponsorships to construct it into a full blown derby car. In many cases, the winners turn around and donate their winnings to a charity of their choice after the bills are paid for the construction of the car, safety equipment, transportation to the event and possibly a visit to the chiropractor the following Monday.
Last year, the Hangtown Destruction Derby reached it’s landmark 40th anniversary, fending off promotional and financial challenges through the years.
Several years ago, this event was feared to be endangered when low attendance and participation made it difficult to continue promoting. Over the last several years, officer Ron Cannon has been instrumental in the growth of the annual derby. As a long time competitor with a great love for his community and family entertainment, Cannon’s enthusiasm, a collaborative promotion effort with Placerville Speedway and many businesses in the community that sponsor the affair, this once struggling event has reached a point in existence that many charitable evnts only hope to be able to reach. It is the highest ranked law enforcement charity event in the western states, sitting second to the annual “Pig Bowl” that takes place in Sacramento each year.
This year the 41st Annual Hangtown Destruction Derby will begin on the eve of the event with the annual event BBQ at the El Dorado County Fairgrounds and involvement with Placerville Speedway during Mountain Democrat Kids Night event. On this evening, the speedway admits all children under 12 for free to the speedway and holds bicycle races during intermission. The Placerville Police Officers Association will be on hand when the gates open at the races, handing out tickets to those youngsters 12 and under that attend the races. The officers will not be handing out speeding tickets, but complimentary children’s tickets the Sunday Derby. The team effort between the Police Department and Placerville Speedway is sure to make this coming weekend one to remember for the youngsters.
The grandstands at the El Dorado County Fairgrounds will open at 11 a.m. on Sunday and the first heat race of the derby is set to begin at 1 p.m. following opening ceremonies and the popular parade of entrants. Adult tickets to the derby are just $10 at the gate. Seniors are $5. Children 12 and under are $5, unless they attend the auto races the night before and receive a complimentary ticket that is good for admission with a paid adult.
A number of area businesses have donated prizes that will be raffled off at the 41st Annual Hangtown Destruction Derby and the pre-event BBQ that takes place Saturday evening at the El Dorado County Fairgrounds.
For further information on the event, the official website of Placerville Police Officers Association can be viewed at www.hangtowncops.org. For information on Kids Night at Placerville Speedway, visit www.placervillespeedway.com.