Diary of a derby man

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For most people, wrecking a vehicle is a nightmare. For others, it’s a way of life.

James “Gumby” Simko is one of the co-founders of Stirrin’ Dirt Racing, a demolition derby company in Utah dedicated to building the sport and, as Gumby said, “entertaining the masses.”

“Demolition derbies are fun community events,” said Gary Garrett, president of the Bluffdale Lions Club who host derbies with Stirrin’ Dirt every year. “When people come out to see a derby, they’re sure to be well-entertained.”

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Gumby, Simko’s derby name, has been involved with derbies since 1986. He said even as a child he was mesmerized by the sounds, sights and excitement of the derby ring.

“I went to my first derby when I was three years old,” Gumby said. “The derbies were my Christmas every year. If I wasn’t good as a kid I didn’t worry about getting coal in my stocking, I worried about not getting to see the derby.”

His love for the sport pushed him to become a driver at age 16 when he drove a derby car built by his boy scout troop. He continued driving until he started Stirrin’ Dirt with a few friends.

“We formed Stirrin’ Dirt Racing about 10 years ago,” Gumby said. “Since then, we’ve done over 130 shows in three states. Currently, we’re just doing shows in Utah, though.”

Stirrin’ Dirt Racing was in its second of six shows this summer on Saturday with the Bluffdale City Days derby. Gumby’s company will sponsor its next show on the Fourth of July in Ogden stadium.

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