In preparation for Saturday's school bus demolition derby at Riverhead Raceway, Dennis Scott spent about 12 hours Friday rebuilding the vehicles, only to soon see them get destroyed.
And he wouldn't have it any other way.
The Bay Shore resident does body work on buses for the MTA for a living, and performs a similar task at the track in addition to competing in the demolition derbies. After the buses arrive at the track courtesy of Gershow Recycling of Medford, Scott makes sure the tires, engines, body parts, motors and everything else are fully functional and working properly.
"That's part of being in the demolition derby, any time you wreck something you have to rebuild it," said Scott, 52, with a laugh. "And once you get back on that track it's just so fun to see the kids' faces. They just love seeing these school buses get wrecked."
Scott has worked on four buses with help from others at the track, including his son-in-law, for this weekend's event and he said he's "hoping to get more buses."
"It's always last minute," Scott said. "Sometimes they come Saturday."
And sometimes, the buses come in such bad shape from the previous derby that Scott said he invests 80 hours over five days to make sure they are safe. Such was the case last year when it was time to run the final derby of the season.
"In the first demo last year, we hit so hard that we destroyed the buses and we had to rebuild them to get them back on the track," said Scott, who has been tending to the buses at Riverhead for three years.
Scott started racing when he was 15 at Freeport Speedway and has competed at Riverhead since 2001. Scott also works on Ken Darch's NASCAR modified as crew chief. Aside from the school bus demolition derby, an eight-cylinder demolition derby will also be contested and Scott is the official in charge of all car demolition derbies at the track.
All the time spent for the demolition derbies is justified by what it means to the track, he said.
"I just try to do my part to keep this track going," Scott said. "It's the only racing track left in Long Island, and if the fans are coming to see the buses demos, then that's part of keeping it going. Everybody likes it; they love the demolition derby."
There's also quite a thrill in seeing and hearing the impact of the school buses smash into each other, he added.
"Oh, you get your frustrations out," Scott said. "If you have a bad week at work, you get into one of these buses and get your frustrations out."