By Pam Dudding
Everyone expects the big cars in a derby to smash one other into smithereens, not as much in the small car derby.
Yet, at the Craig County Fairgrounds Derbies, participants must always be ready because drivers never hold anything back. They often start with a whole-looking car, but by the end, most of their vehicles are completely unrecognizable, looking like mini electric cars with both ends crushed in. The sides of the cars are often demolished too.
Many drivers agree that “it’s the fun of the sport.”
The Summer Demolition Derby at the CC Fairgrounds brought in a huge crowd on Saturday, August 14.
Every ring spot was taken, bleachers were filled and there were people standing everywhere.
Food was cooked in a swift manner, while people patiently stood in line, enjoying the relaxed evening and social event that usually attracts approximately 1,000 people.
Emcee Sammy Huffman started the derby with the National Anthem and prayer before welcoming the first heat drivers to the ring.
The engines started revving and the drivers were “on ready.” Here’s tidbits of the great demolitions.
The small car heat #1 drivers were: Isaac Hagg – 14, Patrick Greenway – 77, Matt Huffman – 88, Dillon Armstrong – 54, Dakota Sisk – 10 and Brad Hayes Jr. – 91X.
Number 77 and #91 kicked things off with a little circle dance.
Number 10 drove backwards and made some hits. Number 91, #14 and #88 decided to hit one another. Number 54 rammed into #24 and #77 before hitting #94. Number 24 then slammed into #77.
It was as if no gas pedal was relieved of the drivers’ feet.
From driving backwards to forwards, it didn’t seem to bother any driver of which way they had to go, as long as they could make a good hit.
Number 88 came around and hit #10 before #24 hit #88. Number 88 then pushed #24 all the way down to the wall. At this point, #10 hit #88 and bounced him off the ground and went back and chasing him around again.
Nothing slowed any of the drivers down.
Number 10 gave #88 a front-end hit as #54 got hung up with tires spinning fearlessly, but not budging out of the mud pit. Number 10 came around and knocked him but didn’t get out. Number 10 hit him again and got the cars loose.
Number 10 and #54 hit each other and 54 pushed #10 all the way back to the wall. It was funny because #10 helped him get loose and then 54 decided he was going to push him to the wall and just leave him there.
When the horn blew, top three winners #10, #54 and #88 entered the finale heat.
The seven Heat #2 drivers came in with fervor: Kenny Collins – 27, BJ Armes – 40, Mike Rogal – 819, Charley Foutz – 38, Josie Foutz – 7, Chad McDowell – 13 and Chad Ryan Jr – 44.
Emcee Huffman had the crowd to count down.
It started with #44 trying to hit #13 but got away but then backed up and got away again, this time with #27 coming in and knocking him hard.
Number 7 chased #13 around the ring and around the other vehicles.
Number 40 made a hit on #19. Then a lot of driving around as drivers seemed to be regrouping for their final attempts at hitting.
Number 44 rammed #40 into #27 causing him to be out.
Number 819 is stuck and his engine revs.
Number 38 lost his left front tire but kept going. Number 13 tried to chase #819 and hit but #819 bumper rammed into his car. Then #819 hit #13. Number #40 tried to hit #819, but missed, did a quick U-turn and bam – #40 rammed #13 front to rear.
Number #44 and #13 sandwiched #40 twice, and both tires went out.
Number 44 pushed #819 halfway around the ring and got stuck. His engine revved high and smoke billowed, but he eventually got out. The crowd roared. However, #13 was waiting on him for a hit but he missed. Number 44 tried with only three tires until the horn blew.
Top three winners were: #13, #44 and #819.
Next up, the small car heat #3 drivers sped into the ring: Chris Boyer – Trump Train, Jacob Bradford – 36, “Baby Grant” Oliver – 07, Taylor Cadd – 03, Daniel Givens – 23 and Sammy Foutz – 5.
The horn blew and #23 immediately hit #03. Number 5 then went head-to-head with #7, then came and hit the side of Trump Train and then #23 backed to hit rear of #5.
“Good start boys,” Huffman shouted.
Number 5 was pushed up against the wall not going anywhere and #23 rammed #03 into #5 as Trump Train pushed #36 into #23.
Number 07 hit the side of the Trump Train and turned him around.
Number 23 then rammed #03 into #5 and #07 pushed it into the wall and the wheels of #23 cocked out sideways.
Number 5 backed up and flipped around and his front bumper stuck out like a rhinoceros.
Number 23 then drove in behind #5 for a hit and #07 behind #23 before hitting #5 again. Number 23 tapped on #36 and #07 rammed and turned Trump Train totally around again.
Number 07 went after Trump Train again, so did #23. Trump got hit and pushed into the wall.
You could hear less engines as some loss their power and grip in the muddy ring, but it didn’t seem like any driver lost their tenacity to hit until the end.
All drivers went for Trump Train until the horn blew. The Trump Train, #07 and #23 were the top three winners.
The top three winners of each heat were given 20-minutes to work on their cars before the finale.
During this time, there were only four drivers able to get their vehicles into the Small Car Crusher Heat: Charley Foutz – 38, Isaac Hagg – 14, Patrick Greenway – 77 and Kenny Collins – 17.
Drivers, determined at this point, were eager for even more hits. Number 77 and #38 stuck in their fronts while all other drivers just sat. Baby Grant had plenty of smoke. All of a sudden, no one was moving.
Wait though, number 38 was still barely moving, and Huffman was encouraging him, announcing the action play-by-play.
“Looks like he’s a lone wolf coming down slow. Can he make a hit?” Huffman shouted.
All was quiet with the other ones and only Charlie Foutz remained, but he needed to make that last hit for the win.
“Can he back it up and get a hit? Oh no!! there he goes. Come on Charlie, you can do it. Just a little pat buddy,” Huffman proclaimed. “Push him BJ! He can do it. Don’t you back up! Get the flag and all you got is 20-feet buddy. Got a little hump to cross there. You can do it.”
Finally, the flag flew as the judges decided to give the win to all of the drivers.
“It wasn’t for a lack of trying old buddy,” shouted Huffman. Later he said, it will be a wonder if any of them will be able to make it back in for the finale.
With only minutes until the small car finale heat began, Huffman noted the “ominous black cloud” that had started moving closer, threatening to dampen the derby.
The track had become a little dry on the outer edges and the CCVFD was there to hose it down.
The finale heat was here, and the following drivers anxiously drove into the ring: Dakota Sisk – 10, Dillon Armstrong – 54, Mike Rogal – 819, Chad McDowell – 13, Chad Ryan Jr – 44, Chris Boyer – Trump Train, Grant Oliver – 07, Daniel Givens – 23, Charley Foutz – 38 and Kenny Collins – 27. Matt Huffman, Patrick Greenway and Isaac Hagg weren’t able to get their vehicles into the heat.
Huffman shouted the countdown with the crowd one last time, the whistle blew and cars hit fast.
Number 23 rammed #13 into the corner before backing out and ramming another into Trump Train. Number 07 then came in behind him and #54 rammed them all towards the wall. Number 23 later returned the favor ramming him into the side wall as #13 came in from the other side and rammed his right quarter, coming out with fervor and ramming #23 in the front.
Number 23 didn’t stop as he crushed #44 into the wall causing smoke to pour out.
Number 07 hit him back against the wall a little further, coming out backwards strong ramming #23 and then they exchanged some nice hits.
Number 44 then came back alive and joined in hitting #23.
Number 07 went hard after #44, and smoke and water spewed high. Number 44 tried to get out of the corner as #07 came back for another strong hit but slid down his side and they danced in a circle.
Number 07 and #44 stuck together, with engines revving and fire flying but no one was moving. The whistle blew and the backhoe came in and got them unstuck. They were ready again. The whistle blows again to resume, and #07 makes a hit and just like that, it was over.
The finale winners were Grant Oliver 07 – first, Chad Ryan Jr 44 – second and Daniel Givens 23 – third. Ryan Jr took the Mad Dog Award.
Huffman encouraged drivers to get their cars ready for another derby on October 9.