Tearing It Up
Benjamin Craft (street name DJ Ben Jammin’) hopes to accomplish that feat with “The Beast,” an ’82 Chevy Caprice with a 468 punched-out Buick block and a turbo 400 tranny. “It’s solid steel,” Ben Jammin’ says of his vehicle. “I’ve run into the wall at 50 mph and just bumped off with a concussion. I didn’t even bend it. You’ve got to have a tough car if you want to last.”
Jammin’ offers some veteran advice. “The strategy is keep it clean and keep out of the mess,” he says. “People are going to try to spin you, jackknife you, push you, whatever. You’ve just got to have a strong car and just drive through it.”
Of course, driving through is made a little more difficult by the fact that a majority of the racers aren’t even using trailers, but simply chaining the boats to their cars. Fault the cost of scrap metal, which has made trailers too valuable of a commodity to be destroyed in a race. Junk fiberglass boats, on the other hand, are a dime a dozen. Unable to be recycled, and cost-prohibitive to trash, racers find them in yards all over Florida and beyond, with owners willing to sacrifice them for the cause. “You’ve got to pay to dispose of them,” continues Jammin’, “so people are like, ‘I’ve got a boat in my yard; it’s yours if you can just get it out.’”
As fleets go, the Crash-a-Rama navy is an interesting lot: A Wellcraft SunCruiser 25 and a Yamaha Exciter jet boat make the grade, mixed in with the occasional metal johnboat — even one stand-up model Kawasaki Jet Ski. The common theme? They’re stripped and faded, mere shadows of their former glorious selves. And odds are that things are only going to get worse.
“I’ve won this race before with the boat untouched,” proclaims Brian Steger of Winter Haven, Florida, who will run the race with a rowboat chained to his bumper. “Of course, last time I was here in Orlando I finished with nothing but a piece left, not even big enough to fit on a 4-by-4-foot square.”
Steger sums up the appeal of Crash-a-Rama’s boat race in simple terms. He lists “dragging something behind you going as fast as you can, plowing through the ones that the other cars lost and putting on a show for the fans” as his motivations. To those he adds, “Just having a great time...going out there and tearing up some stuff!”