Pam Dudding Contributing writer
They were only between the ages of nine and 14, but it was obvious that most of them came from a demolition derby family.
The kids who entered the inaugural Lawnmower Derby at the Craig County Fairgrounds were ready as soon as they entered the ring.
Timmy Snider, owner of Snider Small Engine Service, arranged the event with Daniel Givens and provided the trophies.
Snider set the first three drivers in the center of the ring. He gave the start, and the kids did not hesitate one second.
In the first heat, participants ages 13-14 were: Waylan Whittaker, Wyatt Whittaker and Dillon Crowder.
Despite their age, they knew what the number one rule was: hit.
On more than one occasion they entangled themselves and the judges had to get them loose.
Waylan got under Wyatt and Crowder hit them both.
Crowder was pulling a wheelie almost every time he went forward with much power. He got hit by both the Whittaker brothers and turned over. Judges quickly recovered him, and he didn’t hesitate to get back on. Though both his tires blew, he kept on going, even when he lost a whole tire. All three boys seemed enjoyed themselves. Crowder came in first place while Wyatt and Waylan earned second and third place honors, respectively.
The second heat of lawnmowers were for participants between the ages of nine and 12. They were: Holly Givens – Cowabunga, Carter Givens – Shark Bite, Erin Snider – Hey Shenequa and Will Huffman – Hurricane. They were all attentive and ready to go, waiting on the start from Timmy Snider.
“And all of them are first cousins,” Snider said before starting the heat.
Almost immediately, three of them got hung up. The fourth driver, Hey Shenequa, waited patiently as they were untangled.
Hurricane enjoyed hitting head-on and pushing them backward and then got hooked on Hey Shenequa and started spinning.
Hurricane took some big hits but gave out some as well. His mower seemed to want to climb the other mowers. It didn’t just hit, it climbed on up as it had so much power.
The judges had to do some fast two-steps to get out of their way after the drivers were untangled. They were ready to go!
Shark Bite was making some good hits, but his mower started smoking to which he kept pushing on.
As Cowabunga would hit, she would pop off her seat a little each time. She and Hey Shenequa got into a ‘girl power’ pushing contest, going back and forth until they got hooked up. They immediately went at it again, spinning Cowabunga around.
Emcee Sammy Huffman asked, “How long are these groups going to last?” Her response was, “There’s going to be lots to talk about at the next family dinner.”
Holly Givens won first place honors while Erin Snider won second, Carter Givens won third and Will Huffman won fourth.
Givens (Cowabunga) shared that she wanted to enter the derby because her brother did. “I want to thank everyone for helping me with my mower. I had a lot of fun,” said Givens who named her mower ‘Cowabunga’ because she loves cows and even has her own.
Snider helped them to get ready for the first Kids Lawnmower Derby by helping most of them with their mowers.
Timmy Snider’s 12-year old daughter, Erin, has been driving lawn mowers for years. When she was younger, she drove the John Deere tractor to the bus stop and around the yard. “It was like her first motorized toy,” said her mother, Jessica.
When she heard about the lawn mower derby, she immediately wanted to be in it.
“She and her father worked on it every evening for weeks and Erin was proud to help build and paint it,” Jessica said. “She practiced by driving with hay bales in the yard.”
Though a little nervous, she said they quickly left her as soon as she got into the ring. She and Carter Givens looked at each other and said, “it’s on.”
Erin added that she loved that her first derby was against her cousins and they had a blast preparing together as Timmy helped each one.
“It didn’t matter what the results were, they were all winners,” Jessica added.