As I usually do when I am visiting my father-in-law Doc's place in western Illinois, I got out early and went looking for interesting vehicles.
Like a slowly rising tide, the season's corn crop has begun to swallow the human-sized features of the Illinois landscape, leaving the tops of trees and buildings bobbing in the waves of sparkling green leaves. It's been a rainy Spring, and the dead straight roads that slice the flat fields are already becoming walled in by King Corn.
The freshly sprayed number on the wagon's front door caught my eye as I passed through the intersection, catching a glimpse down the side road.
Otherwise I would have assumed this was just a dead Volvo, fortunate enough to have turned it's final rev in the shade of the big Maple tree. Was that a race car or a wreck? I circled back and as I rolled up I noticed the absence of windshield glass and the square-foot-sized hole cut in the in the middle of the hood.
County Fair time is upon us, and the demolition derby season is underway.
As I was getting out of my car, John swung open the back door of his house and stepped out into sunshine. I raised my hand and he waved back. As we approached each other I asked him if it would be OK for me to make some pictures of his cars.
"Go right ahead," John said after I introduced myself. "They're my son's cars. They're just about ready to run in the Derby."
John's son Chris and his fiance Cassie decided to build themselves a pair of derby cars a few weeks ago, and are very excited to drive their first event at the Lee County fair later this month.
As John and I were discussing the fine points of building a car to withstand repeated ramming by other cars, Cassie drove up. She told us she had brought some paint to put the finishing touches on her car. "Pink?" asked John, without any hint of irony. "I don't like pink," Cassie said, producing a spray can of blue metallic, which she began to apply.
After a trip around the car with the blue paint, Cassie stood back to look at her work. She looked at me. "You wanna hear it? It sounds bad."
She reached in through the passenger side window, connected the battery, and fired up the old Volvo, which had been shorn of most of its exhaust system.
Cassie smiled. "It's turbocharged."
All words and images copyright 2009 Jeffery Blackwell