BANGOR, Maine —- The Bangor Police Department will have a strong rooting interest in one of the cars entered in the Big Bang Demolition Derby at the 2014 Bangor State Fair. If the faux police cruiser donated to the department prevails in the July 31 event, police will give the $1,500 winner’s purse to the Special Olympics.
“It’s just a fun event to put the Bangor Police Department on the map, and hopefully we can give some money to the Special Olympics,” said Sgt Tim Cotton, public information officer of the Bangor Police Department. He added that the derby-entry idea originated with police chief Mark Hathaway.
The car, a stock 2004 Ford Crown Victoria, is painted in the signature black-and-white color scheme of most police cars and will be driven by retired Bangor police officer Marty McCrea.
“[Chief Mark Hathaway] and Marty have been friends for years, so when he came up with the idea, he asked Marty if he wanted to drive and [Marty] said yes. Marty says yes to everything. I’m not sure he knew what he was getting into.” Cotton joked.
McCrea was an officer with the Bangor Police Department from 1982 to 2007. He has fond memories of helping out with the Maine Special Olympics on security details as well as running with the torch.
“One year, in my younger years, I ran all the way to [the University of Maine from Bangor] for the torch run. That’s a 10- or 12-mile hike,” McCrea said. “It’s very rewarding. It makes [the kids] feel better just by doing what we’re able to contribute.”
McCrea has been working part-time at Bouchard & Sons Towing for several months as a tow-truck driver. The Hermon-based towing business is owned by Wayne Bouchard, who was more than happy to help McCrea outfit the car for the competition.
“It’s good to see that the police department is getting involved with different activities than they used to,” Bouchard said.
Bouchard purchased the car last month at the Central Maine Auto Auction in Hermon for a low price and was glad to donate it to the Bangor Police Department for the derby. Although he doesn’t know exactly who the previous owner was, he believes that the car, which was not a police cruiser originally, was from the southern states because of the lack of rust underneath the chassis.
After approximately 25-30 hours of labor and an investment of more than $300 by Bouchard, the Crown Victoria was transformed from an unassuming, four-door sedan, into a stripped-down wrecking machine with a chip on its shoulder (and its front right bumper).
The only thing missing is a hood-mounted version of the now famous Duck of Justice, a stuffed bird featured on the Bangor Police Department’s Facebook page. According to McCrea, a decoy has been found.
“[Bouchard & Sons] has been great as far as pulling things together because I, with my mechanical skills as they are, certainly couldn’t have done it by myself so they just made it so much easier with the time that they donated.” McCrea said.
In order to comply with the rules for the derby, a number of modifications had to be made to the car in the name of safety. The hood features a large hole in its center so that, in case of an engine fire, track officials do not need to open the hood to douse the flames. All doors are welded shut, the hood and trunk are both fastened down by chains. All the windows have been removed, and the interior has been stripped of all amenities. Its fate as a parts car destined for the junkyard has already been decided, but it won’t go out without a fight.
“We have a blocker because you know every redneck in town will be out to demolish the cop car,” Bouchard joked.
The blocker, a 1983 Oldsmobile Delta, will be driven by Jim Goodman of Levant. Goodman works at Bouchard & Sons as a general mechanic whose duties include painting, bodywork and general repairs. Driving in a demolition derby isn’t on the job description, but Goodman feels his experience racing at Speedway 95 will help to an extent.
“I know a lot of guys that do [demolition derbies] and [they all say] you can’t go in with a gameplan, you just gotta try and get through. Hopefully we can get Marty through to the end,” Goodman said.
As for McCrea, the game plan is simple.
“[My game plan is] to not be the first one out,” McCrea said with a smile.
The Bangor State Fair will be held behind the Cross Insurance Center and will run July 25 to Aug. 3. The police derby car will be parked in front of the Bangor Police Department from Tuesday until the Big Bang Destruction Derby on Thursday, July 31. The derby begins at 7 p.m.