Over the weekend, Democratic Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams and Republican Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox were out to crush any notions that the political rivals can’t put their party leanings aside for some good-natured fun. The two battled it out in a demolition derby at the Salt Lake County fair.
McAdams orchestrated the derby, hiring James Simko AKA “Gumby” to build both his and Cox’ derby cars.
The fact that you’re a right-wing republican, is that going to color who you’re rooting for today?, I ask him.
“I got paid to build the car, so I don’t care so I’m good,” he says. “Because it was PAC money, I know the money is not coming from the public, which is good. I said you know if it was the Democratic PAC money, I’m like how does it feel to pay a republican all this money? So that was pretty fun.”
I caught up with Ben McAdams in the pits before the ride with a few expert demolition drivers and friend Spencer Cox.
He says it’s a little scary going into a ring knowing you’re going to get hit.
“You’re going to be in multiple car accidents,” McAdams says. “But, you know it’s also going to be a lot of fun. Lieutenant governor and I are great friends and this will be a fun way to take the rivalry and friendship out onto the field and do it for a good cause.”
Cox said he didn’t have time to get nervous. And he rebuked any assertion that the Mayor had a slight advantage in light of a test derby he ran weeks before.
“I’m at a little advantage,” he says. “I grew up around derbies. I’ve been going to these for 30 years. We take it very seriously where I am from. But I’ve never got to drive in one.”
After a solid round, a group of drivers made a run for Cox’ 73 red Pontiac and pinned it to the side of a muddy berm. Crinkled like a discarded sheet of paper, the car was tossed over the edge. An upside down Cox was luckily able to exit the driver’s side window unscathed.
“I told you we were gonna give them a good show,” Cox says. “We gave them a good show.”