Monday, February 18, 2013

NEW SHOW: Kings of Crash

I often forget about Velocity, and I think there's two reasons for that. First and foremost, on AT&T UVerse it's on channel 1104, and I never go higher than 366 (SOAP) when I channel-surf. Second, I'm not their demographic... they're really aiming for men with their shows about cars and sports. Plus, it's a young network, re-branding itself as of Fall 2011, so if you've never heard of it, that's not all that surprising, either. Regardless, they gave a presentation of Kings of Crash at TCA last month and I was a little intrigued. Now that I've seen two episodes, it's not really a show for me (not really a car person, much less a demolition derby person), but if it might be your cup of tea, read on. And, if you want to tune in, check out Velocity at 10pm on Sundays.  
Velocity, Discovery Communcations
First, let's do a little who's who...
Mont & Sarah: Car #56. He's 34 and has been derbying since he turned 18. He's a father of four, and his girlfriend Sarah ( from South Carolina) acts as a SAHM.
Gumby & Nicole: #000. He's 43 and has been doing this for 26 years. He's been dating Nicole for eight years, but she thinks derbies are a waste of time. (spoiler: the internet suggests that the two will marry before the end of the season!)
Lazenby & Heather: #23. He's 35 and has been derbying for 16 years. He's been with his wife, Heather, for 12 years. They have two children, 14 and 10 years old. Before the series began, he was down about $6,000 for the derby season. "Tiny" helps him build cars.
Katy Sweat: #33 - a 37-year-old mother of five who has been derbying for 10 years.
Ryan Sweat: #57 - Katy's husband and Mont's older brother, he's a 38-year old who has been derbying for 17 years. He and Mont were raised by different parents so didn't grow up together.
TJ McPhie: #x1 - a 32-year-old who has been derbying for 7 years. He's totaled 20 cars and has the advantage of having his own shop and no family to support. Before the series began he was up about $3,000.
Johnny & Dalton Gullo: #17 - Johnny is a 47-year-old who has been derbying for 24 years. Six years ago, he had a stroke and lost a lot of movement for a long time. Physical therapy wasn't working so he went home and took apart carburetors to get his movement back. [wow!] He and Gumby have really improved the sport and the purses. His 19-year-old son, Dalton, has been racing since he was 15. To them, "It's not a hobby, it's a lifestyle."

Now, let's go over some basic rules...
Each demolition derby is a stand-alone event. You have to make a hit every 60-90 seconds, but can't hit the driver's door. The last car standing wins. You have a pole on your car to show that you're in the game, so if something goes wrong, just yank it. Anybody already en route to you can still make the hit, but nobody new can come toward you.
Kings of Crash "To Have and Have Not in Kamas" (S01E01): In Kamas Valley, three heats and a grudge match will determine who goes on to the main event. It's timed so that drivers can work on their cars after their heat and before the grudge match. Lazenby is fined $75 and needs to make some modifications when he doesn't meet all of the standards. The different drivers talk about their strategies, which include targeting (Mont has focused on Lazenby in the past), partnering (TJ helps knock Mont free when he's stuck), and aim (Gumby drives to take out people's tires). [I found it interesting that six cars start in the arena, three at each end, and they start by driving backwards into one another!] In the heats, Ryan gets turned on his side for a moment and is upset that he's removed from racing because his car leaked gas. [this seems to be a grey area - do you have to fully roll over to be removed?]

Women compete in a powderpuff round and move into the final from there, but Katy gets stuck. She can try for the grudge just like Ryan, but he doesn't want them to compete against one another. The majority of the show's drivers participate in the grudge, including Ryan, Gumby, Mont, and Lazenby. [I was surprised by Ryan's move to ruin the initial hits of others.] Ryan gets stuck, Gumby winds up pulling his flag, Lazenby gets stuck, and after Mont knocks Lazenby free, he gets stuck, too. [geez!] Ryan and TJ move on from grudge, but Ryan gives up his spot to Lazenby because he can't compete. We see how dangerous this sport can be when a driver gets hurt and a firetruck drives onto the field to get him out of his car. Sometimes, however, the situation gets dangerous but you keep going, like when Lazenby leaks fluid but continues, just removing his seatbelt to help expedite an emergency exit if needed. [I'm not sure how legal this was, really...] He winds up in third place, winning $2250. TJ comes in first to win $5,000, and Ryan gets the Mad Dog award for $750. [if Lazenby couldn't move in the end though, how did he not get thrown out?]

Kings of Crash "Man Down in Heber" (S01E02): Gumby is in some pain from the previous race, and his girlfriend thinks he should quit. He keeps on truckin', though, as does Lazenby, who has to sink the last derby's winnings into a new transmission for this week's event. [ouch!] It's a tough job to turn around a new car in a week, and Lazenby struggles to get four hours of sleep each night, let alone keep up with chores.

At the race, the first heat includes Mont, Gumby, and TJ. Mont was going to go easy on a certain car, as a friend-of-the-family favor, but after the kid hits him, all bets are off. [as they should be!] TJ and Gumby move on to the final. The second heat has Lazenby, but he gets called out early. The third heat has Ryan Sweat and Johnny Gullo but neither move on to the finals. Gullo was actually injured, so Dalton takes his place in the grudge, which is comprised of six drivers, four of whom are on this show. Ryan has to drive with a hand throttle in the grudge because he ran out of time to fix his. Plus, he barely makes it to the arena due to multiple stalls. Still, he makes some big hits before his car gives out and he's eliminated. Mont also has issues, as does Lazenby, whose gas pedal gets stuck. Lazenby and Mont qualify for the final, but Mont's car is too damaged and he gives his spot to Ryan. [I am pretty impressed with how quickly these guys can fix problems!] But, by this point, Ryan's car hardly turns and he can't even drive it to the gate. [I was surprised that it could get delivered to the arena for him! however, I was pretty grossed out at Ryan saying "I am so thirsty I could suck a wet fart from a duck's @$$ right now."]

The main event was rough, and Lazenby's seatbelt rips, he flips for the very first time, and he winds up needing to be taken away by EMTs! Similarly, Gumby loses color in his vision after a big hit and winds up driving with two flat tires! [I'd be really worried if my vision was affected like that!] In the end, a non-showcased driver took first, TJ took 2nd ($2500), and Gumby took third ($1250). 
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