DMSBD Start Up Clinic, Saturday, February 16, 2002
by- Ian Carsten
We had an excellent turnout for
the February 16 Start Up Clinic. The Detroit Automobile Dealers Association
(DADA) graciously provided us with a spacious, comfortable room that was very
suitable for this event. Snacks, such as fresh bagels and cream cheese, scones,
chips, pretzels, nachos, fresh coffee, and soft drinks were provided in
We were quite pleased with the
attendance. About 117 people showed up, many of them children and parents who
had never participated in derby before. Also, a number of participants involved
in the derby years ago brought their children and, in a few cases, grandchildren
with them to the clinic. Several new derby participants took advantage of the
opportunity to sign up to begin racing at Detroit Metro. Also, a number of
attendees placed orders for cars at the clinic.
Since DMSBD director, Joe
Flynn, got permission to bring up his son Michael’s 2001 Masters Division champ
car (now the property of the AASBD) from Akron to the Start Up clinic at DADA,
he will be returning it to Akron after the clinic. Then, he will be returning
from Akron with a load of car and parts orders, thus saving the purchasers the
shipping charges. The savings can be significant. For example, the current
shipping prices to this area are: stock car $27, superstock and masters car
$37, and the parts have various prices for shipping, such as, $10 for axles,
$11 for wheels, $5 for a helmet.
Michael’s 2001 champ car, along
with his huge 2001 Masters Division trophy was displayed prominently at the
clinic. Also, Lauren Flynn’s beautifully painted masters and superstock cars
were displayed. And Kyle Scotti’s red stock car that he used to win the second
place 2002 Akron Stock Division Championship was on display as well.
Along the wall to the
audience’s right was a display of unassembled car kits for the attendees to
examine. Additionally, we had framed photographs of Thomas Fisher and his 1940
All American national championship car. We were all surprised and pleased to
learn that one gentleman in attendance had raced with Thomas Fisher in 1940.
Thomas was the last driver from the Detroit area to win the national title until
Michael won the Masters trophy on July 28, 2001. Michael’s car was also borrowed
for display at the Detroit Auto Show last month where it was placed in a display
of one of the major sponsors of the show. Joe and several other volunteers made
initial contact at the show with visitors, several of whom have subsequently
attended the start-up clinic and have ordered cars.
Joe handled most of the
presentation and did a nice job of it. There were also a number of other
presenters as well. The presentation began with an explanation of what the derby
is about and brief review of its history from an informal street race among
several boys in Dayton, Ohio in 1933 using homebuilt cars to its current form
using standardized cars and a framework of structured rules which greatly levels
the playing field of today’s derby.
The audience got an explanation
of what derby is about and its benefits as a family-oriented, team sport focused
on youth. Joe discussed many of the basic features of derby, emphasizing that it
has evolved from a simple, rough and ready race, largely without rules into a
fun, challenging experience that focuses on fairness for all competitors,
sportsmanship, and the learning of new skills. He noted that building the cars
is a great way for the young drivers to learn new mechanical skills and that
they can and should be mainly built by the driver with help from the adult team
members if, and only if, needed. He also spoke about a few of the ideas used to
make the cars faster and noted that driving strategy also plays an important
part in attaining winning speed. Further, he mentioned that Detroit Metro is
adding several new awards to the program, including Best Derby Sprit,
Participation, Design, and Rookie Driver.
Ted Schafer reported on the
progress of the Weight Program. This is a program to have simple steel plate
weights fabricated at low cost for the main weights required to ballast the cars
to required legal racing weight. The weight sets are being fabricated by Detroit
Metro sponsor, Ideal Steel, and will be made in at least two different sizes,
depending how much main weight is needed. These often cause the beginner
difficulty in obtaining and cutting to size, and they can be expensive. This
should help our racers prepare their cars economically and minimize the problems
that building a weight set often entails. Thank you Ideal Steel. We appreciate
your continued support.
Detroit Metro drivers Michael
and Lauren Flynn, as well as Kyle Scotti, and Alyssa Schafer, spoke about their
derby experiences, what it has meant to them and the many ways in which derby
racing has benefited them. Lauren did a particularly good job, especially in
relating to the kids in attendance in putting them at ease with the idea of
beginning racing in derby.
Elementary school teacher Nick
Ellis, former Akron finalist, and father of Detroit Metro driver Sam Ellis,
spoke enthusiastically of his love of derby, how it has enriched his life and
benefited his family. He concluded his comments by telling his listeners what he
considered to be the thing he most wanted to convey. “Don’t miss this
opportunity. Derby is too good to miss out on.”
Also, AASBD Region V Director,
Jerry Reif, spoke. He said he wished he could bottle Nick Ellis’s enthusiasm for
derby for all to see and hear. He noted that DMSBD is doing things a bit
differently than other local organizations in Region V (comprising Indiana,
Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin). And, he said he thought we were on the right
track and wished us continued success and best wishes.
Our presenters fielded lots of
questions from the attendees. Each visitor received a numbered ticket as they
arrived. When the formal presentation was over, a drawing was held. The prizes
awarded included a number of 2001 Akron souvenir t-shirts, caps, computer games,
and at least two copies of the Disney video, “Miracle In Lane Two” about Justin
Yoder, the young man who had to petition the AASBD to allow him to race derby in
a car equipped with a hand brake since he did not have the use of his legs. You
might want to rent that some evening as you and your family may enjoy it.
Then the visitors were
encouraged to look at the cars close up and the kids were invited to get in and
get a feel of the car and the controls. Several of the DMSBD members, including
drivers Alyssa Schafer, Michael Flynn, Lauren Flynn and Kyle Scotti helped young
folks get into the cars and get into proper racing position. The young future
drivers asked lots of questions, especially about how fast the cars go, how they
are steered, how well the brake works, and why they have to get into such a
seemingly awkward position. Also, this generated a very enthusiastic response
and lots of questions regarding the setup and construction of the cars as well
as the rules governing construction, driving, and racing procedure. There were
lots of requests for details of this sort, which we did our best to answer.
Quite a few questions were
requests for clarification on the wheel swap, lane swap and timer differential.
They wanted to know what they are, how they are done, and perhaps most
importantly, why they are done. Other frequently asked questions were, “Why do
we want to put weight in the car?” and “Why do all the cars within a division
have to weigh the same?” We think we did a reasonably good job of explanation.
will deal with construction, setup, and driving strategy.
Check www.detroitderby.org or
for the schedule of upcoming clinics.
Another review of this
clinic by Nick Ellis, 1970 Detroit Champ
Back To Tech Tips