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Gillams derby organizer Gavin Butt makes changes to welcome large crowd

Derby organizer Gavin Butt made a few changes to this year’s event in Gillams that he hopes will bring people out. He is shown behind the wheel in this Western Star file photo.
Derby organizer Gavin Butt made a few changes to this year’s event in Gillams that he hopes will bring people out. He is shown behind the wheel in this Western Star file photo.

Thousands of people packed into the gravel-pit venue under a scorching sun for the first Smash-Up Derby held on the west coast one year ago.

There were 23 drivers from all over the island participating in an event that featured two competition classes.

It was pretty noisy with all the crashing and banging, and there were lots of smoke and plenty of sparks.

The energy could be felt in the crowd as fans cheered for their favourite or cheered on some of the victims of heavy hits who tried to push forward to the end, but the damage was too great and they had to be removed from the pit.

Spirits remained high as people had to wait patiently for the smashing to begin, as organizers never envisioned the large crowd that flocked to Gillams for the derby debut on the west coast.

There was a 45-minute delay because it didn’t take long for the available parking spots to be filled, and many people had a fairly long walk to the pit after parking on the main road in the community.

It’s a problem that organizers didn’t envision because it was a new event to the area, but it’s a situation one could live with when the numbers were so great that you had to look at making changes to accommodate the people the next time around.

The second annual Smash-Up Derby for Multiple Sclerosis, an event organized by derby driver Gavin Butt, will take place Saturday on Farm Road in Gillams.

Here are some of the changes or additions made for this year’s derby to ensure spectators and participants have an even better experience this time around:

— Five acres of new parking space to accommodate the expected high volume of traffic.

— The pit crew area is opened up more for more parking for derby cars, fire rescue and ambulance.

— There is a fan-viewing area constructed that will allow another 1,000 people to watch from the top of the pit.

— A better effort is being made to ensure the derby pit surface will be much harder this year to ensure better traction for all drivers.

—  Music will be played from start to finish by DJ Two Jays out of Gander.

— A festive family environment with a focus on family with Bouncy Castles, face-painting, ferris wheel and cotton candy.

— Rain or shine, gates will open at 11 a.m., with the first race scheduled to start at 2 p.m. sharp.

— A total of 28 cars, four more than last year’s inaugural event, are registered for Saturday’s derby.

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