The Greeley Independence Stampede is one of America’s largest 4th of July rodeos. This year marks the event’s 101st celebration. From June 22nd to July 4th, 2023 there were rodeos, concerts, a carnival, food vendors and of course, the demolition derby!
My name is Anthony. I started going to the stampede in 1976. I even spent a few years working the rodeo. The Greeley Independence Stampede attracts people from all around the country and different parts of the world. This year’s (2023) attendance attracted over 250,000 visitors.
This event dates back to the late 1800s. It was originally named the “Greeley Spud Rodeo” and was started by the local potato farmers. In 1920, the Stampede was noted as the largest fair & festival in the world.
Greeley’s Independence Stampede Demolition Derby has been a tradition for many years. As I mentioned beforehand, my name is Anthony. I will be putting together this brief article and the two attached videos. This particular travel adventure will have less talk and more show. The accompanying videos will provide exciting footage of the demolition derby as it was seen through the spectators’ eyes. I think you are going to really like this article! Stay tuned.
For those of you who haven’t been to a demolition derby, its quite the action packed attraction. Even though it seems recklessly dangerous, the strict enforced safety procedures ensure that the drivers are as safe as possible.
Before entering the arena, all the cars must pass a rigorous inspection. Some of the qualifications include but not limited to having all glass removed inside and out, the interior is completely stripped, a protective steel cage is built around the driver and a boat styled gas tank is installed inside the car.
After a judge looks under the hood, the car will clear the final inspection. The driver is given a white stick. This stick is then attached next to the driver’s window. Not only does it qualify the car to enter the arena, but also validates that the driver is ready to go. Once the car is no longer operable or is incapacitated, the driver breaks the stick off and is no longer in the derby. The driver must stay in the car until a winner is declared.
Depending on how many cars or trunks are entered in the heap, they will either line up in rows or in a circle. After everyone is positioned, the judge will countdown and the green flag drops. There are are six judges. Four are stationed at the arena’s corners, and 2 watching the action in the center of the track.
The judges look for 3 important signs; 1) No running into the driver side door. 2) Make sure drivers with broken sticks don’t get hit. 3) Looking for injured drivers. The judges can yellow or red flag the derby at any time if deemed necessary. And it does happen on occasion.
Greeley’s Independence Stampede Demolition Derby always packs the house. This first video covers several car classifications. It will show the beginning, during, and the end of multiple heaps. Watch closely because there are a few exciting moments including a rollover! Stay tuned.
Greeley’s Independence Stampede Demolition Debry had a special category that not all demolition derbies offer. This year, the derby included a Motorhome class event. As these monstrous behemoths start circling the arena, the crowd begins to get anxious in seeing these dinosaurs do battle.
The motorhomes also go through a rigorous safety inspection like their counter part-the cars. The drivers are surrounded by a steel cage and given a white stick as well. The driver’s safety is always number one!
It doesn’t take long for these lumbering giants to show the damage inflicted on one another. At one point, several of the motorhomes were separated from their ‘motor and home’. The only things left are a frame, engine, tires and drivers compartment.
Unlike the cars, it takes a little longer to maneuver these lengthy monsters into an offense position. But when they line up on their target, watch out!
With mobility being an issue, it’s easy to find a cluster of jammed up vehicles. When a motorhome rams into its target and a pursuing driver collides as well, its much harder to pull away. If one of the vehicles becomes incapacitated and you are trapped between 2 ousted competitors but your engine is still running, you’re pretty much stuck.
The arena fills up quickly with debris that mostly comes from the shell of the motorhome. The winning vehicle usually has nothing left but a frame and cockpit.
The following video shows most of the motorhome’s demolition derby event. It is comical to watch these large road warriors smash into each other in a controlled environment. Unlike other events, nobody leaves until the motorhome derby is over and the winner is announced. Enjoy the show!
Photography: Anthony & Maureen Scopel
Video: Anthony & Maureen Scopel
Article Creator & Formatting: Anthony Scopel
Video Production: Anthony Scopel & Matt Kemper
Associate Editor: Maureen Scopel
Technical Mastering & Web Support: Matt Kemper
Publishing Provide By: You, Me and The Dock
“We here at You, Me and The Dock
would like thank Chuck Kinsey &
Chocolate Covered Trucking for the tickets”