For race fans, hit-to-pass night at Western Speedway is the stuff movies are made of: bright lights, fast cars, sexy ladies, roaring crowds and . . . mullets, lots and lots of mullets.
Now, thanks to local filmmaker Todd Harris, hit-to-pass racing and the drivers who invented the sport are the subject of a feature-length documentary Demo Dummies, making its world premiere Wed., March 28 at the Caprice Theatre in Langford.
“It’s an amazing culture,” says Harris. “These guys are whipping around the track at 80 miles per hour and the only rule is that you have to hit the guy in front of you out of your way to win.”
This is no ordinary demolition derby. Hit-to-pass racing is just that, a race. The first driver to cross the finish line is the winner. “What happens in-between is a smash fest,” says Harris. “These guys aren’t in it to win it. They’re out to hit.”
Harris, who moved back home to Langford from Los Angeles three years ago, was inspired to make the film because of fond memories he had of visiting Western Speedway as a child. His uncle used to bring him and his brother to the track on warm summer nights and Harris remembers thinking that although he’s never been very good at sports, racing is something he’s always wanted to do.
Making Demo Dummies is the next best thing.
Over the last three years Harris has spent countless hours interviewing the men behind the roll cages, beginning with Keith Hansen — better known as Dr. Death. Hansen was the window into this wild world.
“He’s a hard hitter,” says Harris.
The movie is about way more than hit-to-pass racing, says Harris. “I wanted to get into the psychology of why these guys want to do it, go across the track and into the pit and get a glimpse of their everyday lives.”
Harris chose five racers to feature: Dr. Death, The Masked Banana (Keith Cahill), Marty McFly (Marty Hansen), Smokin Joe (Joe Libratore) and Mr. Ugly (Greg Sagmoen). Other racers, including Pastor of Disaster (Tim Davis — a real pastor), Garry “The Animal” Williams, The Punisher (Paul Scotthorne) and Buckshot (Randy Wiebe, who is legally blind) are supporting characters.
“Wiebe is the nicest guy on the track,” says Harris. “Plus if he hits you, you know he didn’t mean to do it on purpose.”
Even the traditional nightly bread toss makes an appearance in this modern day gladiator ring.
Harris produced, directed, shot, edited and scored Demo Dummies, his first solo feature film. His brother, Troy is also a producer.
“This movie wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for Troy. I’m not organized and he’s just brilliant in that department.”
Harris held a focus group at the William Head institution where he gained valuable insight into the film. He spent another four months editing before the finished film was ready for its premiere. The rights have been sold to CBC for the next year and Harris has secured a world-wide distribution deal. He’s even got a potential series in the works. For more information about Demo Dummies and to watch the trailor, visit demodummies.com. M
Wed., March 28
8 p.m. $10
777 Goldstream Avenue