Pam Dudding Contributing writer
The June Summer Derby usually attracts a sizeable crowd. This year, however, every available seat was taken, and the park was filled to capacity.
People enjoyed picnicking on their truck beds and at the stage, children threw footballs in the field while the smaller kids played tag in front of the bleachers. As one attendee said, “it looked like a great family event and laughter and happy chatter could be heard everywhere.”
The Upper Craig Creek Volunteer Fire Department lent their services for the evening, along with the Craig County Rescue Squad and EMS.
Judges for the night were B.J. Oliver, Jesse Bradford, Paul Welch and Jacob Bradford.
Emcee Sammy Huffman started the evening by playing the National Anthem. The crowd stood in silence as the song filled the atmosphere with a feeling of American appreciation.
Huffman then announced for the heat to enter the ring. Cars revved their engines making performance entrances, and all awaited the countdown and blowing of the horn.
Big Car Heat #1 included drivers 35 – Corie Trivette in his antique 1959 Ford, 56 – PJ Welch, Lucky 13 – Derek Dudding, 716 – Jeff “Crash” Crosby, 24 – Nathan Lynsey and 66 – Kyle Turner.
The one big thing about the Big Car heats is that they continue to get bigger.
When Trivette pulled in with his 1959 long solid metal car, spectators started clapping.
As soon as the horn blew, the loud sounds of metal crunching filled their air. Regardless of the vehicle, they all took their crunch hits, but the ’59 took the hits a little better – at first.
A driver that knows where to hit makes all the difference. No one finished looking great, but all seemed to have hit as hard and as much as possible.
Dudding and Welch sandwiched Crosby, jacking the rear of his car in the air at an angle, while Lynsey took advantage and rammed Dudding in the backside, turning his car.
Turner made a solid hit on Welch and Crosby came in for a hit on them both. Then Dudding came from behind for a big hit while Trivette put the pedal to the metal and rammed.
When Turner hurt his arm, the Rescue Squad checked it out. He was quick to get back in his car though for the tractor to push him out.
The top three heat winners were: Trivette, Dudding and Crosby.
Big Car Heat #2: 21 – Donnie Wayne Fisher, 09 – Jimmy Owens, 50- Dustin Price, 94 Pisstnbroke – Joey Minter, 69 – Braeden Morrison, 54 – Justin Dudding and 03 – Taylor Cadd.
The drivers showed no mercy to anyone, yet respect always stayed in the forefront of the sport.
Hits were hard and many. Several vehicles rear-ended each other. The center ring mud hole got a couple of them stuck as smoke roared high from rubber being unceasingly spun.
Minter rammed Morrison while Owens joined in on the fun. Later, Fisher and Owens double-teamed Morrison. Price then rammed Dudding into Cadd while Owens thought Morrison needed to be a little closer to the wall.
Just when you thought it was over for one car, it would start back up and immediately shot out for a good hit.
Cadd took a hard hit as Owens came in for a hit on Minter. Morrison then helped.
Everyone joined in as Fisher pushed Minter into the wall, Owens pushed Price into Morrison against the wall. More hard hits were devastating to some drivers as their cars went out.
The top three heat winners were: Fisher, Price and Morrison.
Coley Fisher was helpful before the derby started as he picked up several pieces of metal and pieces of cars from the previous derby. He also helped the judges during the derby by carrying pieces out of the ring.
Before the Big Car finale, you could hear metal being beaten into new places, drivers and helpers were running around trying to find parts to get their vehicles drivable again.
The Big Car Finale featured: 35 – Trivette, 50 – Price, 69 – Morrison, 716 – Crosby, 13 – Dudding, 94 – Minter and 21 – Fisher.
When the cars looked like they couldn’t take another hit, they did, with tires spinning off of wheels, radiators spewing water into the air and engines smoking so badly, drivers could barely see.
Morrison’s bumper popped out once like a rhino. Rears were smashed into the back seats and metal was falling off everywhere. Mud started being slung into the air as tension got a little stronger and cars started dropping out.
Minter’s half of a car still gave some hits. Trivette didn’t slack up either, crunching him into the wall.
Dudding came in for his share of hits making strong on Price. Then Price and Minter rammed each other while Dudding and Trivette danced in the middle of the ring.
Price and Trivette took turns head-to-head as both fronts jacked up a bit.
Trivette pushed Morrison into the wall while Price hit Trivette and Minter pushed Price into them all. Dudding came in from the side to get a piece of action. That seemed to spark another huge round of big hits, which caused radiators to spew, metal to get pushed into the tires and vehicles to look like they were ready for the metal heap.
Morrison made a hard hit into Crosby which brought his radiator spewing with so much steam it filled his car, but he kept going. Trivette pushed Fisher into Morrison, but all backed out and started all over.
As cars broke down, judges asked the drivers to get out of their vehicles for safety.
The heat lasted the longest of any of the night, a full and exciting 15.5 minutes as spectators continued to stand, clap and yell for their favorites. “Way to go fellers,” Huffman shouted from the tower.
The Big Car Finale winners were: first place – Donnie Wayne Fisher (21), second place – Braeden Morrison (69) and third place Corie Trivette (35).
Heat winners received a cash reward and all top three winners of both final heats received large checks from the Craig County Fairgrounds, along with their cash winnings and a hand-made metal award that Huffman had designed.
Winners complimented its design and size saying, “Man this is really nice.” They all agreed they would be back for the next one, with just as much gusto.