Getting Ready for the Junkyard Derby

On the opening weekend of the Washington Spring Fair in Puyallup, I walked around the prep area behind the rodeo grandstand, clutching my camera and tucking a notepad into my pocket. Captivated by the sight of various cars and their teams of mechanics, I immediately began photographing the chaotic scene. It only took a couple of minutes before a driver approached me and said, “If you want to write a story about this whole thing, go talk to Mike.”

Mike Bachmeier of Bachmeier Auto Salvage

Following the driver’s advice, I sought out Mike, who was engrossed in helping his friends with the no. 57 car, adorned with spray-painted letters reading “Bachmeier Auto Salvage.” Mike revealed that his name appeared on many of the cars present because he owned a junkyard for several years—a clever way to immerse himself in the demolition derby scene. Remarkably, he had been a part of this community for approximately 30 years, fostering strong connections among the participants.

With a smirk, Mike gestured towards the surrounding cars, including the one he was tirelessly working on, and proudly declared, “This is the economy class—a collection of the cheapest cars that are considered the bottom of the barrel.” Upon closer inspection, it became evident that many of these vehicles had endured previous demolition derbies. I even witnessed a street-legal car being stripped down and outfitted with a roll cage, reinforced doors, and bumpers—transformed within a few hours before the derby’s commencement.

A covered steering wheel will prevent a newer driver from wrapping a thumb and possibly getting a hand injury during a crash.

If I were to encapsulate the essence of these cars in simple terms, I would describe them as industrious. As I departed from the prep area, I couldn’t help but feel that the individuals I encountered that day were just as hardworking as their soon-to-be battered vehicles. This encounter marked the final chapter of my exploration at the Washington Spring Fair.


  • Ryder Collins

    I am a photographer living in Seattle Washington that is in love with photographing those fleeting surprise moments. I have always been a people watcher, and when I picked up a camera for the first time my natural inclination was to go out on the street and photograph people. I've always been attracted to photographing the emotions of people and the oftentimes absurd nature of the human experience. At this point I am becoming most interested in visual storytelling through documentary style photography. My current work involves documenting the people of Seattle - how they live, find excitement and resiliency in this city that feels equal parts anxiety and hope.

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