Demolition derby is unique in the sporting world in that winning is not necessarily everything, but showmanship is.
At least that’s the case for Tim Walther, a local derby driver who grew to love the sport as a boy watching his uncle.
“It just really got me interested in crashing cars, because that’s what the crowd comes to see,” Walther said.
Walther competes in about four derbies a year around Montana and will be participating in Sunday evening’s contest at the Western Montana Fair. It begins at 5:30 p.m. and admission is $15 for adults and $12 for children. There are 50 pit passes available for anyone 18 and older for $17.
Walther and his son/sidekick Austin recently met up with the Missoulian to discuss the destruction and mayhem that is demolition derby.
Q. How did you fare last year at this event?
A. Last year, my transmission broke, so I was out right away, unfortunately.
Q. Did you like the integration of the truck competition last year?
A. Yeah, I really did. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to do both the car and truck events this year. It depends on if I’ll have time to have my truck ready. But I built the truck that won last year so I was proud of that.
Q. If you had to pick your dream demolition car, what would it be?
A. It would probably be a Chrysler Imperial, but the car doesn’t really matter to me because any car will smash.
Q. What is your favorite memory from these derbies over the years?
A. One year here in Missoula I built a Cadillac and it started on fire like three times and wouldn’t go out. And my sponsor, the Halloween Superstore, got a picture of me jumping out of the car like Batman and it ran in the Independent. So that was pretty cool.
Q. Other than being the last car standing, what sort of strategy do you use behind the wheel?
A. You’ve definitely got to hit smart. Try not to hit too hard with the front end because that’s where the engine is, obviously. But at the same time, the crowd likes big hits and that’s what I’m there to do.
Q. What is the most damage you’ve ever done to one of your vehicles?
A. I had an Impala one time that looked like a bananna. The front bent up and the trunk bent up and the passenger’s side was all beat in. It didn’t even look like a car when I was done.
Q. Have you had any scary moments out there competing?
A. I haven’t really yet. I drove without a seatbelt once and ended up in the passenger’s side where there is no seat. But that’d be about the worst I guess.
Q. Would you like to see demolition derby make its debut in the Olympics?
A. That would be pretty cool, but it might be a little far away to haul a car.