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Jared Lintell with his 2003 Pontiac Grand Prix. Photo: James Morgan

It’s all about the thrill for demolition derby drivers

What motivates a demolition derby car driver?  The demolition derby is one of the biggest highlights at the Vankleek Hill Fair.  Now, it’s highly unlikely that local farmers were smashing up old buggies and wagons for fun at the first fair 175 years ago, but today the derby is — dare we say it — as important a part of the fair as showing Holstein cattle or home baking.

This is the first instalment of profiles of drivers hoping to be behind the wheel of the last vehicle running at this year’s demolition derby.

Jared Linttell

This is Jared Linttell’s fifth year entering the derby.  He skipped the 2018 event but is back this year with a 2003 Pontiac Grand Prix.  He’s been busy getting the car ready at his home in Cassburn.  The gas tank is now where the back seat used to be.  The windows have been removed, the exhaust pipe gone, and a hole cut in the hood so firefighters have easy access, just in case the engine bursts into flames.  Linttell seems to like the fun of the destruction.  “It’s not everyday you get to smash up a car,” he said.  One of Linttell’s sponsors is The Review.

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Gabriel Lafontaine

Gabriel Lafontaine of Hawkesbury was 17 when he first entered the Vankleek Hill demolition derby.  His car for this year’s event is a 2004 Dodge Neon.  Lafontaine said his vehicles have steadily improved since his first car, a 1998 Geo Metro with a three-cylinder engine.  Entering demolition derbies is part of his automotive hobby.

“I was always into cars—building cars, now I get to build a car and destroy it as well,” said Lafointaine.

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Eric Roy

Eric Roy is a demolition derby veteran.  The Vankleek Hill resident been entering since he was 18.  Now 40, he has only missed three years.  This year, he will have two entries in the derby, a 2003 Dodge Caravan and a 1996 Toyota Corolla.

Roy said he enters for “the thrill of it,” but also indicated smashing and crashing could have some therapeutic benefits.

“It’s a good place to let out your anger,” he said.

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Gabriel Myre

A 2005 Mazda 3 will be Gabriel Myre of Lachute’s first ever entry into the Vankleek Hill demolition derby.

Myre has wanted to enter for three years, and now he is doing it.

He found the car for sale on Facebook for $180 and his friend Johnny Paquette from Vankleek Hill has been helping get it ready for the derby.

“For the fun of it,” is Myre’s reason for entering.


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James Morgan

James Morgan is a freelance contributor. He has worked for several print and broadcast media outlets. James loves the history, natural beauty, and people of eastern Ontario and western Quebec.

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