Demolition Derby to Benefit Burned Children is a Team Effort | New

It takes a village to raise money for burnt children and send them to Camp Beyond the Stars every summer. The Imperial Beach Fire and Rescue Department has participated in the Demolition Derby held annually at the Del Mar Fair for many years, with the help of BodyWorks Collision, corporate sponsors and many volunteer hours. This year’s artist, Esmeralda Robles, joined the team in painting the cars with superhero themes based on the fairground theme. This year, the Fire and Safety Expo & Firefighter Demolition Derby will take place on June 12.

On a recent morning, Robles was in the back parking lot of BodyWorks, busy putting the finishing touches on the two cars that will be competing. Robles showed off his paintings of Batman on the hood of a Chevrolet Malibu and the Joker. Robles had highlighted the Joker on the chest, using green and purple.

The other car is a Ford LTD Brougham with a Captain America theme with red and white stripes, with a shield made by IB Dad Matt Henry that will be installed on the car.

BodyWorks owner Liisa Thomas has volunteered her time and storage space to work on the cars every year since 2014, when she owned a store in Chula Vista. She explained that the cars used in the derby are old and usually donated to the fire department. “They are junkers, not worthy of the road. They are towed here. I usually fix wrecked cars, in this case I fix them to crush them,” she said. “The Burn Institute is an amazing charity, they send kids to summer camp with other burn kids.” BodyWorks serves as the base for preparing the cars for the derby, and firefighters spend time working on them while Thomas and his employees do the final body work.

This year, Robles got involved in painting superheroes. “She’s an amazing artist,” Thomas said. She explained that the derby is possible not only because of the many hours spent making the car drivable and themed, but also because of the financial support from Imperial Beach businesses and residents.

The work on the cars is done over a period of a few months. The two cars this year were those intended to compete in the 2020 derby, which was canceled due to the pandemic. Jorge Martinez and John Olsen are the firefighters who will be driving this year. Martinez secured third place in the 2019 derby. Martinez explained that the cars were made drivable thanks to the work of a firefighter who was previously a mechanic and another mechanic who helps.

So far, $8,000 has been raised by the fire department for the camp, and that amount could increase as the week progresses until the derby.

Martinez explained that 17 cars will take part in the derby and that there are three main races. He said the cars will be towed to the fair and after the competition they will be used for firefighting training.

Each year the cars are given an award for best in show, and Martinez hopes to be a contender based on the work done by Robles. In 2019 the theme was The Wizard of Oz and the car was painted silver to represent the Tin Man character, but this year with the help of Robles painted superheroes he thinks there are very good chance of winning.

Robles started painting the cars about two weeks ago. She is happy to try something new and learned how to paint a car, which is different from what she used to work on – murals and paintings. She said that in her weeks at BodyWorks, she learned how to sand the car, use a sponge to make the paint stick, and then spray the car with professional automotive spray. Besides the superheroes, she also painted numbers, her signature, and designs on the roofs of both cars. She will also place corporate sponsor decals. Robles spent many hours on details and pictures. “It’s funny. I liked it,” she said.

IB Fire and Rescue Service Deputy Fire Marshal Tom Santos is the Chief Marshal and Competition Director of the derby this year. He said the event was first held 30 years ago at the El Cajon Circuit, known as “the fastest 3/8 oval in the west”, and was moved at the Del Mair Fair in 2004 when the circuit closed. “Imperial Beach Fire has competed most of those years and our very own Fire Captain Ehren Kahle won the title in 2015,” he shared via email. Participants come from as far back as the 29 Palms Fire Department and Imperial Beach Lifeguards have participated in the past. In 2019, the derby raised $125,000 for San Diego burn survivors.

Flight. 38, n° 23 – Thursday, June 9, 2022