Carl Voelker, 37, is typical of the drivers at Islip. "I started coming to the races when I was 12," he says. "Last year was my best; I won $4,262. I've been interviewed on television five times. My son is 17, and he wants to go into the derby, but I'm going to quit. Now I want to drive modified stocks."
Voelker may not find the same satisfaction in racing around a track trying not to hit the other cars. Many Demolition Derby drivers claim they compete to relieve the frustrations of driving in everyday traffic; what a wonderful feeling to be able to slam into an old heap and watch it lurch to a halt amid clouds of steam. Others simply enjoy the camaraderie. One driver says he comes all the way to Islip from Montreal because "You run into a lot of nice people."