Heard on CultureShift

Ready, Set, Crash? Flat Rock Speedway’s Night of School Bus Destruction

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Image credit: Shiraz Ahmed

CultureShift took a field trip to meet the bus drivers whose job it is to take a beating.

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The buses lineup for the derby at Flat Rock Speedway.Shiraz Ahmed
Shiraz Ahmed

The buses lineup for the derby at Flat Rock Speedway.

Chants fill the night air and the crowd is energized as they await Flat Rock Speedway’s Night of Destruction, where school buses take a whip around the race track. 

The annual event, also known as the school bus figure-eight race, features big, colorful buses literally crashing into each other, flipping over and giving the audience one heck of a show. It’s adrenaline-pumping and exciting. Dangerous? Well, that depends on whom you ask. 

Most people would think it’s dangerous,” says Jack Franzel, a regular racer at Flat Rock. “But if you’ve been doing this your whole life, compared to what we used to do, this is like slow motion to us.” 

Click the player above to hear CultureShift’s Amanda LeClaire trip down river and see photographer Shiraz Ahmed’s images below.


Shiraz Ahmed
Shiraz Ahmed
Frenzel, driver, posing in his bus (left) and with a shirt a family member gifted him. 'I've been racing my whole life, once I quit doing it on a weekly basis I kind of retired into this,' says Franzel.Shiraz Ahmed
Shiraz Ahmed

Frenzel, driver, posing in his bus (left) and with a shirt a family member gifted him. ‘I’ve been racing my whole life, once I quit doing it on a weekly basis I kind of retired into this,’ says Franzel.

Shiraz Ahmed / WDET
Shiraz Ahmed / WDET

 

The glass-strewn floor of one of the vehicles. "We pick them up at auctions and scrap yards. These buses are on their way to the scrap yard, we just make them last," says Franzel.Shiraz Ahmed
Shiraz Ahmed

The glass-strewn floor of one of the vehicles. “We pick them up at auctions and scrap yards. These buses are on their way to the scrap yard, we just make them last,” says Franzel.

 

The crowd at Flat Rock Speedway.Shiraz Ahmed
Shiraz Ahmed

The crowd at Flat Rock Speedway.

 

Young fans at Flat Rock Speedway. Their favorite part? 'When they try to hit each other.'Shiraz Ahmed
Shiraz Ahmed

Young fans at Flat Rock Speedway. Their favorite part? ‘When they try to hit each other.’

The bus derby begins with drivers revving their engines and pulling out of the parking zone.Shiraz Ahmed
Shiraz Ahmed

The bus derby begins with drivers revving their engines and pulling out of the parking zone.

Franzel crashes his bus, the first hit of the night.Shiraz Ahmed
Shiraz Ahmed

Franzel crashes his bus, the first hit of the night.

 


Amanda LeClaire, Host, CultureShift

Amanda LeClaire is Host of CultureShift and is a founding producer of both of WDET’s locally-produced daily shows. She’s been involved in radio and the arts in Detroit for over a decade.

amanda.leclaire@wdet.org Follow @amandalee_lec

Shiraz Ahmed

Shiraz Ahmed served as Digital and Audience Engagement Editor for 101.9 WDET from 2019-2020. His favorite salsa is Marco’s Mexican salsa, a now-defunct chain that produced the salsa of his childhood.


LaToya Cross, Producer, CultureShift

LaToya Cross is a Producer and writer on CultureShift with a passion for highlighting creatives using their platform to shape, shift and analyze society through an artistic lens.

Latoya.cross@wdet.org Follow @ToizStory

This post is a part of Summer Field Trip.

CultureShift's Summer Field Trip takes you out of the studio and around town to highlight some of the coolest spots in the region.

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