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Firefighter Demolition Derby to be at end of this year's county fair

Burn Institute’s Fire and Safety Exposition which includes the Firefighter Demolition Derby has been part of the San Diego County Fair since 2010 and in past years took place during one of the fair’s earlier weekends. This year the Fire and Safety Exposition will be held Sunday, July 7, which is the final day of the 2024 county fair.

“We’re closing out the fair this year,” Tessa Haviland, executive director of Burn Institute, said. “We’ll be the very last event of the year.”

The Fire and Safety Exposition is held at the Del Mar Arena.

“The fair gave us that date, offered us that date, and we accepted it,” Haviland said.

The final week of the San Diego County Fair is traditionally Motorsports Week at the Del Mar Arena. This year monster trucks, freestyle motocross and lawnmower racing will be held July 3-6.

“It kind of makes sense to put them all together,” Haviland said.

Craig Kintz, who is the Barona Speedway announcer, has also been the Firefighter Demolition Derby announcer in recent years. Kintz often also announces Motorsports Week events, including “Dirt Dude,” which will likely be at the Saturday, July 6, Barona Speedway races rather than at that night’s county fair competition, and will return to the Del Mar Arena for the July 7 Firefighter Demolition Derby.

“He does such a wonderful job,” Haviland said.

In 1995, Cajon Speedway, Burn Institute and local fire departments collaborated for an annual night, which included fundraising and promotions for the Burn Institute and a Firefighters Destruction Derby – renamed the Firefighter Demolition Derby in 2017.

Burn Institute and local firefighters also collaborated on an annual exposition at Qualcomm Stadium. Cajon Speedway closed after the 2004 season and there was no Firefighters Destruction Derby for five years, but in 2010, the Fire and Safety Exposition was moved to the San Diego County Fair.

“We have a great relationship with the fair,” Haviland said.

Fire departments utilize sponsorships and other donations to raise money for Burn Institute, and at the Fire and Safety Exposition itself non-driving firefighters and Explorer troop members carry a boot for donations to the Burn Institute. That day the boot for donations is also carried elsewhere around the fairgrounds.

The money raised from the Fire and Safety Exposition is used for the Burn Institute’s Camp Beyond the Scars which allows burn-injured children to participate in activities with other burn survivors.

“It goes directly into our program,” Haviland said.

This year the overnight camp at the Doane Valley Campground on Palomar Mountain will start Monday, July 8, the day after the Fire and Safety Exposition.

“It works out really well,” Haviland said.

Last year, the 16 fire departments, some of whom had multiple cars in the Firefighter Demolition Derby, combined to raise approximately $100,000. The Fallbrook Firefighters Association raised about $6,200, and Zach Cain drove an Oldsmobile Cutlass for the North County Fire Protection District.

The 2023 format had three early afternoon heats with the last two running cars in each heat advancing to the final and two last chance qualifier heats in the late afternoon which allowed the final remaining car from each of those to compete in the main event. A carburetor fire in his heat race relegated Cain to the last chance qualifier, where the Cutlass hooked up with another car. Although Cain did not drive in the main event, he will drive the Cutlass in this year’s competition.

How much money will be raised for Burn Institute won’t be known until July 7.

“They’re still fundraising,” Haviland said.

The later date gives the firefighters and their crews three additional weeks to get their cars ready.

“It works really well for them, too,” Haviland said.

The Fire and Safety Exposition will begin at 11 a.m. July 7, and will include displays, safety education and cardiopulmonary resuscitation compression practice. A parade of fire trucks and the opening ceremony will take place at 1 p.m. The heats begin at 2 p.m., the last chance qualifier competition is scheduled to start at 4:45 p.m., and the main event has a 5:30 p.m. starting time.

Joe Naiman can be reached by email at [email protected].

Author Bio

Joe Naiman, Writer

Joe Naiman has been writing for the Village News since 2001


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