Feature Article, Other Motorsports, Washington — June 15, 2014 at 4:47 pm

Justin Hart (issue 106)

by

IT-106 Justin Hart (demo)

By Steve Heeb

Justin Hart has been banging around demolition derby for 10 years, though he says that should not have come as a shock to his parents.

“They were taking me to the races ever since I was 2,” The driver from Kelso, Wash., explains. “They were surprised for some reason that I started racing.”

Justin also got a bit of a surprise as he made the jump from the grandstands and into the arena.

“It’s a lot different racing vs. watching,” he says of competing in KDDA events roughly 300 miles from home. “The track looks a helluva lot bigger when you’re actually racing.”

And more than just racing, Justin also helps coordinate and find cars for demolition derby events in Cowlitz County.

Justin recalls being inspired by KDDA veterans Ed and Chuck Dano, as well as Rick and Pat Duncan, Jim Harp, Kelly Ensor, KC Straight, Webb Rhodes and Johnny Graham.

His first truck for the demo derby was an ’81 Toyota HiLux that he bought for $125 to build for the 2004 season.

“It had 435,000 miles on it but just needed a starter,” he laughs.

Competing quickly became a priority for Justin.

“I skipped prom my senior year because we had a derby that night,” he says.

This spring, Justin arrived for the Slamfest demolition derby in Puyallup, Wash., with an ’83 Mustang painted in the orange and Coastal blue colors reminiscent of the Ford Gulf Oil Racing cars at Le Mans.

Justin found the car online for $400 and bought it from the Oregon seller after tightening a few bolts, though the amount of work necessary was more than he expected.

“There’s 155 feet of welding beads core support in just the first five feet of the car,” he says. “And 40 to 50 pounds of welding wire before the firewall.”

Justin credits sponsorship help from Rick Smith at Cedar Automotive in Port Orchard, as well as hands-on help from wife Danielle.

“She’s always in the pits helping me with the car,” Justin says.

“He’s aggressive,” Danielle says of Justin’s racing. “He’s a go-getter.”

“I do play a little too hard sometimes,” Justin laughs. “But if I have a whole gas pedal I am going to use it.”

 

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