Head On is an inside look at an obsessive American subculture: the bone-crushing, blue-collar world of “team demolition derby” in Joliet, Illinois.
Think of it as roller derby with cars. Two teams of four drivers race stripped-bare, heavily fortified gas-guzzlers around a dirt track, each trying to be the first to finish five laps. Beyond that, anything goes. Cars ram each other backwards, forwards, sideways, in tag team tandem, and—in the team demolition derby equivalent of a grand slam or a breakaway dunk—head on, at speeds of up to fifty miles an hour. Every race is a five-minute riot of crunching metal, churning mud, and choking exhaust, with a grandstand full of ten thousand fans screaming all the while.
Head On follows the sport’s two top teams, Orange Crush and Stranglehold, in the month leading up to the last race of the 2005 season the team demolition derby “National Championship.” The film tracks a memorable cast of characters at home, at work, in the garage, and finally, in their cars on race night, capturing the intense preparation and volatile emotion of those final few weeks. In the end, it all comes down to one epic showdown, with the dreams of each driver—not to mention their families, their fans, and their crews—hanging in the balance.