Engineering student fixes, destroys a car for demolition derby

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    By Kenneth Dahl

    Saturday night BYU student Alan Dibb crossed out one more thing on his to-do list when he competed in the Western Round-up Demolition Derby in South Jordan, Utah.

    Some have considered it a little out of character for the studious Alan Dibb, a senior studying mechanical engineering, to participate in such an event.

    The thought to enter the derby came after a suggestion from his father, Roger.

    Roger Dibb saw a sign for the demolition derby and has wanted to participate since he was a young man. He now had an extra car, left behind by his second son serving in the Melbourne, Australia Mission.

    The Delta 88, affectionately called “Old Yeller”, was struggling to pass emissions tests and Roger was searching for a convenient way to dispose of the vehicle. Roger mentioned the derby to Alan one night and Alan enthusiastically assumed the role of driver.

    Roger Dibb said this “was the best father/son activity we”ve ever done. It gave us time together all summer working on the car.”

    Alan and his father spent an estimated $400 and 80 hours working on the car over a period of three months to get it ready for competition.

    The family members spent those hours stripping the car of all non-essential parts. This included climate control, windows, interior, seats, dashboard, headlights, and taillights.

    Other modifications added to the vehicle to make it derby-worthy included stiffening the suspension, installing tubes in the oversized tires, cutting out the fender to allow for the larger tire size, cutting holes in the hood and bolting down the trunk.

    To Alan, this summer activity of preparing the car was just another extension of his mechanical engineering pursuits.

    “The people who actually design cars are the mechanical engineers,” Alan said. “I got hands-on experience of how the car works, even though it was ripping it apart instead of putting it together. It involved a lot of troubleshooting, things wouldn”t always go according to plan and we had to make modifications to the design.”

    Alan Dibb researched derby techniques and strategies through thousands of Internet sites and a careful study of the Western Round-up rules.

    Alan Dibb will not be attempting to receive course credit for this activity.

    Alan Dibb”s car was “demolished” in the first round of competition, much to the chagrin of his estimated 100 supporters in the stands. Engine still running, Alan Dibb had sustained a direct hit on the rear of the vehicle pinching his tire and stopping the vehicle.

    “Those hits are hard! But I am not hurt,” the younger Dibb said as he climbed out of the twisted wreck.

    Alan painted the car to depict the classic BYU/Utah rivalry using the theme “Bash a Team”. The driver”s side was painted with the BYU blue and white, while the passenger side, which receives most of the impact as driver”s side hits are illegal, paid a small tribute to the University of Utah.

    When asked if he would do another derby again Roger Dibb said, “We have another old Oldsmobile. When we put a few more miles on it and my son comes home from his mission [that car] is another good candidate.”

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