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New Alexandria Lions Club Demolition Derbies set for summer in expanded arena

| Tuesday, May 13, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Chuck Sheffler isn't sure why people like the demolition derbies hosted by the New Alexandria Lions Club, but he knows scores of people do.

“They have favorite drivers. They like the mud. They like seeing cars crash,” said the club member who watches all of the action from the grandstand as the announcer. “It's an all-around family event.”

On Friday, drivers will start their engines for the first of eight derbies throughout the summer. The club has been hosting the event since the early 1970s

The arena on Lions Club Road near the intersections of routes 119 and 22 can hold about 3,000 people, thanks to new aluminum bleachers, Sheffler said.

After a fall event that raised $13,000, plus a donation from a Pittsburgh contractor, the Lions Club replaced the wooden bleachers and added 10 rows to accommodate 500 more people, he said.

About 70 to 80 vehicles in different classes participate at each event. Contestants come from throughout the tri-state area and as far away as Virginia, Sheffler said.

Each vehicle is inspected beforehand to ensure safety, checking for modifications to the cars, such as bracing bars, relocated gas tanks, bolted hoods and trunks, he said.

The derbies benefit local charities, collecting about $55,000 to donate to more than 40 organizations, even after awarding drivers' prize money, he said.

This is the third year the New Alexandria Lions Club will partner with the American Cancer Society for an event, set for May 30.

Drivers decorate their cars, and raffles are held alongside tables offering educational information about cancer awareness, he said.

Jim Bennett acts as derby chairman for the Lions Club. Tom Davis and Wally Shick are co-directors of competition. “We're very proud of what we do,” Sheffler said.

Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6660 or