There wasn’t a vacant spot around the ring or one on the bleachers at the Summer Demolition Derby on Saturday night.
People arrived early with their chairs, coolers and buckets full of laughter and packed the Craig County Fairgrounds. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen this many cars here before. Both derby cars and spectator vehicles,” event emcee Sammy Huffman said.
A tangible happiness was in the atmosphere and smiles were seen on almost everyone’s face, as people greeted one another with joy.
The Mike’s Dog House was getting orders out as fast as they could, as there was no end to their line.
The drivers seemed to have an extra “giddy-up” in their step and verbal jabs were abundant, as each picked on one another ready to be the winner of the demo.
The evening began with emcee Huffman as he made comments to many over the intercom system. Everyone could tell that it was going to be a great evening.
The National Anthem was played, and the boisterous noise immediately quieted to a respectable hush as hands were held tightly over one’s hearts and many sang those heartfelt words.
Then it was countdown. Motors rushed fiercely, peoples chatter arose for the individual drivers and the first heat anxiously entered the ring.
There was eight to ten inches of mud, as it had rained so much. Some slid in while others picked their spots. Everyone near the pit knew that it was going to be a mud-slinging night.
It was showtime once again and this night was going to be big. A record number of cars entered to make four small car heats of ten each and three big car heats with six each.
The judges – BJ Oliver, Jesse Bradford and Paul Welch – enthusiastically performed their jobs.
The Johns Creek Volunteer Fire Department was set up for any emergencies and the Craig County Rescue Squad was present as well.
The first small car heat had ten cars. Chris – 88, Daniel Givens – 23, Frankie Boyd – 48, Jackson Purkey – 05, Josh Lance – 27x, Bryan Davis – 16, Tim Patterson – 28, Adam Mull – 8, Logan Armstrong – 29 and Barry Cassidy – Fatboy.
Things started a little slow as the mud had several of them sunk from the beginning. Once the drivers got the feel of the slush underneath them, it was derby time.
Givens drove across the middle looking for a hit. Armstrong was up on the side driving along the wall while Givens and Chris drove side by side pushing one another, ending up doing donuts in the middle of the ring and then Armstrong hit Givens hard.
Though Chris’ car was smoking badly and he could hardly see, he kept on hitting. The others took their fair share of hits too.
The top three of the heat were Givens, Chris and Armstrong.
Heat two included Charlie Foutz – 38, Mason Smith – 02, Aaron Smith – 425, Mr. Special Riley Grant, Brandon Malcolm – 11, Chad McDowell – 13, Ethan Botkin – 67x, Tanner Blacker – 111, Luke Rutter – Big Juicy and Grant Oliver – 07.
Some cars wrote notes on their vehicles such as “Keep America Great,” “God is the driver I’m just hanging on,” and “Is that all you got?”
Mr. Special started by backwards ramming Mason. And all the other drivers began.
Malcolm and Aaron rammed Mason. Botkin took his shot at McDowell and sparks flew, then he went for Oliver and they danced a little in the mud.
All the cars were sliding in that thick mud.
Mr. Specials rear end got smashed in and Foutz was hitting hard.
Mason seemed to have his foot down hard on the pedal as he drove backwards around the track, coming around the outside hitting, then he split open the huge mud puddle in the corner.
Oliver then made a hit to Mason that took him out as he got stuck at the entrance corner. Aaron and Oliver did some ramming and the cars were smoking. Three cars had to be towed out.
Aaron Smith, Mr. Special Riley Grant and Grant Oliver were the top three from the heat.
The next small car heat drivers were: Sam Dillon – 18, Courtney Price – 8008, Troy Foutz (Bustin Loose) – 69, Katy Silvious (Lil Fuzzy Nuts) – 2, Devin Armstrong (Big Nasty) – 25x, Wesley Robert – 97, Ben Hull – 309, Ethan Brown – 15, Dylan Pulliam – Buckwild and Harold Mitchell – 88.
Huffman thanked everyone for attending and making the night great, even though rain drenched the evening a couple of times. Engines revved and when the horn blew from the countdown, metal was heard crushing once again.
Foutz rammed Mitchell into Robert and they took a spin around. Katy rammed backwards, Buckwild went for Hull and pushed him to the wall, while Dillon, Mitchell, Katy, Robert and Foutz danced in the middle for a while.
Brown’s car was singing with its two-foot pipes sticking out of the manifold. He drove around the edges, through the thick mud hole and hit Katy and Armstrong.
The little green car had no rear end left but was ramming as hard and fast as it could go until he and Brown got entangled and Brown was pushed into the mud hole, but came out of it like it was nothing.
Mitchell was hitting and flames flew out of the pipes over a foot high.
Foutz was hitting but he was also smoking bad. Mud was flying onto the spectators and into the tower. Huffman borrowed Holly Givens blanket to shield himself, but it didn’t help much. Many of the fast-moving mud pelts caught him off guard.
Cars were hit hard but motors revved even higher. Five cars had to be towed out as winners of the heat were: Sam Dillon, Devin Armstrong and Buckwild Dylan.
Though it poured the rain, loyal spectators stayed to watch.
The last small car heat included: Zachary Boyd – 95, Dylan Armstrong – 54, Michael Gailmard – 45, Brandon Gailmard – 54 (buck naked brother), Matt Huffman – 88 (Hurricane), Hunter Ashley – 00 (peach fuzz), Andy Honeycutt – Superman, Amber Price – 2319, Coley Fisher – 22 and Lucas Whimar – 11x.
When Huffman came into the ring, he gave a hard tap to Ashley, with a friendly wave which signaled it had already begun.
When the horn blew, Brandon went for it, throwing mud into the air 30 feet. Price went for Brandon and Brandon for Price.
Parts started flying off early and the horn blew to stop but the drivers kept going a few seconds.
Anxiousness had filled the air. The derby was on and everyone could feel it, as spectators continued to yell out supporting their favorite drivers.
The horn blew to begin again, and Michael didn’t hesitate to ram Ashley. Brandon hit Boyd and Boyd returned the hard love tap to Brandon while Armstrong took his turns at Ashley.
Ashley pushed Whimar until sparks flew under his car. That is when the fire department had to put it out. Boyd drove through the thick mud hole and aimed for Armstrong.
Whimar got stuck in the mud hole but the other cars hitting bumped him out and he went for Michael.
Hits were many and hard. Michael, Ashely and Whimar’s vehicles were all spewing steam from the motors. The horn blew as the fire department had to extinguish flames in Boyd’s car. Eight cars had to be towed out.
The top three drivers of heat four were: Michael Gailmard, Hunter Ashley and Lucas Whimar.
The top three contenders of each heat got to have a final battle. Chris – 88, Daniel Givens – 23, Aaron Smith – 425, Grant Oliver – 07, Logan Armstrong – 29, Mr. Special Riley Grant, Sam Dillon – 18, Devin Armstrong – 25x, Buckwild Dylan Pulliam, Mike Gailmard – 45, Hunter Ashley – 00 and Lucas Whimar – 11x.
B.J. Oliver took the backhoe and smoothed the ring for the final heat.
The spectators joined Huffman in the count down and no one hesitated to start hitting.
Smith went for Whimar and it was on. Oliver rammed Smith. Lucas went for Armstrong and they battled. Sounded like Lucas popped a radiator, but he didn’t slow down until his motor gave out.
Buckwild and Dillon kept hitting and Oliver joined in and then Armstrong joined the ramming session.
Everyone hit hard and fast.
Dillon then hit, looked like he blew his radiator but kept hitting Oliver, backed up and tapped him again and again until it was over.
Sam Dillon took first-place, Grant Oliver second and Devin Armstrong third.
Armstrong also took the Mad Dog Trophy being the most intense driver overall in the heats.
The drivers exited their vehicles and walked over congratulating and talking with one another. Many drivers agreed, “It’s a rough sport and you drive to win, but at the end, we’re all friends.”
B.J. Oliver got pelted with so much mud that he looked like a brown snowman. He had clods of mud stuck to him and even on his head. His wife yelled out, “It looks like you have a lot of hair now.”
Winners took home hundreds of dollars for the night’s event and nice trophies.
Huffman thanked McCoy Auto for donating $50 for the Mad Dog trophies and everyone for supporting the derby as well as all of the volunteers.
He also asked that people help out the local Fire Department as Johns Creek will be having a carry out benefit spaghetti dinner on September 26 from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m.
The next derby will be held in October and Huffman encouraged all the drivers and spectators to come back again.
(The big car derby article, along with the power wheels and lawnmower derby’s, will be in next week’s issue.)