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Social media helps make scale model hobby connections

Scale modelers from New York, Ohio, Kentucky, and Iowa traveled to Wisconsin for a demolition derby build-off
You may not know it, but building models of demolition derby cars is a real hobby. My Facebook page, “Doc Demo’s Model Clinic,” is devoted to building demo derby scale models, connecting modelers with a similar passion, and informing my followers about current derby trends and styles.

In mid-June, Jeremy Schul from West Alexandria, Ohio, and Gunner Taylor of Danville, Kentucky, two modelers I know through my Facebook page, started looking at their model contest calendars and where they might go before the end of the season. Midwest Scale Madness (MSM) in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, caught their eye. Both knew I had connections to the Wisconsin car modeling scene and messaged me via Facebook to ask if I was going. The answer: definitely.

Jeremy, Gunner, and Chris Lohnes, a friend of theirs from upstate New York, host an annual build-off at Bash for Cash, a demolition derby held in Chillicothe, Ohio. Like me, they have an interest in growing the fun but small part of the hobby devoted to building derby cars, and this is their way of contributing to the cause. I thought, if Jeremy and Gunner were going to come out to Wisconsin, why not see if Chris would like to join them? Heck, why not turn it into an event and have a build-off with the results decided at MSM?

Chris agreed to come along, and everyone was up for the build-off, so we set the ground rules: Build what you want, but nothing too modern with outlaw-style cars. We looked for other builders who were both attending MSM and wanted to compete, and found Logan Hanson, from Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. I contacted Tim Kasper, the MSM organizer, and told him about our idea. He jumped on board, organized judging for the build-off, and added awards for the build-off to the show.

Derby modelers pride themselves in making their cars as realistic as possible, building custom door panels and firewalls, cutting out gas tanks to make them look like floor pans, and scratchbuilding custom parts, like engine protectors. There are rabbit holes to go down while researching specific parts, and time to spend hunting for the perfect rim, tire, or custom motor. And 3D printing has taken a central role in providing parts we can’t find or bodies for cars that were never kitted by derby drivers.

Building scale demolition derby model cars gained popularity on the internet, and build-offs typically take place online. Just like in the real world of smashing metal to be kings of the arena, modelers compete against each other with plenty of smack talk and badmouthing. When Jeremy, Gunner, Chris, Logan, and I gathered at MSM in September, it was no exception. It was the first time many of us had met each other in person, and before long, we were beyond who’s model was best, and were talking about scale-modeling techniques and skills, kits and modifications, and developments in the demo-derby world. We were getting on like any group of friends would.

MSM welcomed us, provided a table to display our models, and added a Demolition Derby category to the contest. For the build-off, Jeremy took first, Gunner second, and I came in third. Not wanting to be outdone, Logan took home Best in Show—with a derby car! It’s rare to see a demolition derby model get as much respect as Logan’s at a scale model contest.

And, as for Chris, there’s always next year!
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