The Tooele County Fair was cancelled this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but one of its signature events will go on as scheduled.
The annual Punishment at the Peak demolition derby will return to the Deseret Peak Complex on Friday and Saturday, featuring approximately 60 cars taking part over two days of action. Working closely with the Tooele County Health Department and the Tooele County Commission, Whiplash Racing’s Del McQuiddy was able to organize an action-packed event that will also be safe for spectators.
“I’m bringing in extra hand sanitizer towers and extra bathrooms and the bathrooms are being cleaned multiple times during the event — both the portables and the fixed restrooms,” McQuiddy said. “The county and myself have teamed up to provide Whiplash Racing, custom-made neck gaiters for all general-admission ticketholders. As soon as you come in the gate, you’ll be handed one. It’s in a sealed, individually wrapped package and you can use that as your protective face covering — that’s the idea behind it.”
Seating capacity will be limited to 5,000 people each night, and spectators are asked to maintain social distancing as much as possible.
County tourism consultant Mike Deaver said an event like Punishment at the Peak can help provide a much-needed boost to Tooele County after months of being shut down because of the pandemic.
“This would be, as far as we can tell and as far as we’ve been able to identify, if it were to sell out, the largest outdoor sporting event that the state has held since the coronavirus hit,” Deaver said. “I think it’s a good sign of life for everybody.
“Communities like Tooele Valley are built around community events and around tourist events, and this is always a great chance for people to get together and see their neighbors and friends and family.”
McQuiddy said competitors from all over are looking forward to this weekend’s event, particularly with the cancellation of a number of other demolition derbies this year.
“There were a lot of people who already had cars built, and I was able to work with them so they could make some adjustments to the cars so they would be legal for my show,” he said.
According to the derby’s Eventbrite listing, drivers are competing for $40,000 in prize money. Friday’s derby features Stock Class action, with the top drivers advancing to Saturday’s derby against the Whiplash Class. Mini Car Class heats will also take place Saturday. A number of local food vendors will be at Deseret Peak Complex each night as well.
“There’s a lot of unknowns, but we’re doing everything we can to give the people of Tooele something to do,” McQuiddy said. “It’s not designed to be a statement piece, but I think it will speak for itself by Sunday. We’re ready, as a community, to get moving again. We know there are constraints and there are certain guidelines we have to follow, but we’re ready to open up. We’re ready to support local businesses and get things moving again.”
Deaver said the demolition derby could help showcase Tooele County as a location for other events later in the year.
“If this goes well, there are some other events that we know of that are looking for a home this summer, and it might be an opportunity to bring those back into Tooele,” he said.
Gates open at 5 p.m. each night, with the action beginning at 7 p.m. Tickets, ranging from $8-$35 each, are available at the gate or online at bit.ly/39HYzjg.