If there is one thing that Craig County is known for, it would be their competitive edge when the word “derby” is spoken. It has been said that other county boys won’t enter a derby out of town if they hear specific names of drivers from Craig. Some have even said that before long, it will be that way with the lady drivers as well.
According to some locals, Demolition Derby’s in Craig County have been happening for over 50 years.
“When I was in the third grade, I went with mom and dad to watch my uncle James run my grandfather’s 1966 Chrysler in a derby, and that was it for me,” Sammy Huffman said. “It went from drawing derby cars in school to all of us neighborhood kids having a bicycle derby on the old railroad bed.”
Huffman added that when he got old enough, his “Grampaw” gave him a 1975 Pontiac. “With help building it with him, dad and my uncle, I ran my first derby and that went on for the next 20 years.”
And that is the goal of the community derby drivers – to keep demolition derby’s going for another 50 years or more. One younger driver, Ethan Brown, who has won several Craig derby heats, said, “I have been running the derbies for seven years now. I truly enjoy it because it allows the whole family to be involved as it’s something we can all do together.”
From compact cars to big cars and starting in October, Craig County Fairground Association (CCFA) will be adding a stock car class to the derby. “The rules will be available after the August Derby,” Nicole Dudding said who is the Activities and Advertising representative for the Association.
For the upcoming Derby’s, drivers can pre-register at the Craig County Treasurers Office starting on Monday, July 23, and ending on Friday, July 27. Entry fee is $25, and each driver has an option to purchase one ringside parking pass for $30. “This applies to first 15 drivers registered,” Dudding added.
For all of those die-hard fans, ringside parking passes will be on sale to the public on Saturday, July 28, from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. at the Fairgrounds. “They are $20 each, and there is a limit of one pass per licensed driver,” Dudding said.
The same rules for the upcoming derby will apply as to the previous derby. The guidelines for both Compact and Big Car events can be found on the Craig County Fairgrounds Facebook page, at the Treasurer’s office or by email.
Derby Registration forms can be mailed to Craig County Fairgrounds Association at P.O. Box 512, New Castle, Virginia, 24127. Make checks payable to CCFA.
Out of town drivers wishing to purchase a ringside pass along with their registration can contact Jackie Parsons at (540) 309-9966.
For the kids who wish to enter the Power Wheels Derby, contact Bub Ponton at (540) 580-2344. “The power wheels are great for the kids because no one gets left out,” Ethan Brown said. “The smile on their faces makes it all worthwhile.”
Most derby drivers echoed the same responses about a derby. “It’s fun…you help each other get the cars ready, but once you hit the ring, everybody is on his or her own. Once it’s over, we all celebrate together,” one local shared.
“The reason it was so much fun for me was the time I got to spend with buddies. From riding around looking for cars to hauling them to the shredder when you’re done…all of the fun happens between those two trips,” Huffman said with a laugh.
He added that he will never forget all the years he drove in the derby’s and all the memories he has made with friends over the years. “As you get older, you just can’t do the things you used to do, so being able to fool around with the derby’s at the Fairgrounds still lets me be in the derby in some small way I guess.”
Drivers say that Huffman is never short of words as the emcee at each derby.
“He’ll even encourage us from his tower and then sometimes give us a little hard time which gives us a shot where we need it too,” one driver said.
Saturday, August 4, will be the next great derby at the Craig County Fairgrounds. The Power Wheels Derby will start at 7 p.m. with the main derby to follow. There will be lot of food, a raffle and, as usual, the 50/50. There are new bleachers to sit on as well. “The cost is cheap compared to what you get to see,” one older gentleman said.
Join in on the fun, bring the whole family and watch a great show. From kids to seniors, there is never a dull moment. You also never know what surprises may take place.