The 81st Logan County Fair
July 30 thru August 6, 2017

Demo Derby marks close of the 81st Logan County Fair

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[August 08, 2017]  Sunday evening the annual Demolition Derby marked the close of the 81st Logan County Fair. To say the fair ended with a “bang” would be a gross understatement!

This year the demo derby brought in more cars and contestants than it has in the past few years. A total of 54 entries sometimes clogged the field like a New York traffic jam, but the audience was excited and showed their support of the bigger and better derby by making almost as much noise as the cars did.

Early in the show, which began at 4 p.m. again this year, the little ones were out on the track in the Powerwheels Derby. There are no winners or losers in this contest, just several minutes of miniature crash and bang fun that was enjoyed by the contestants and the crowd in the grandstand and along the track.

When the big boys and girls came on the track, the action kicked up a notch with five class competitions this year as opposed to three last year.

New this year at the derby, drivers were allowed to have a passenger with them during the competition. For some of those drivers the passenger was a ride-along, and for others he or she was a second set of eyes on the competition.

Before the derby began, Logan County Fair Queen Meg Meeker was interviewed by the Emcee for the night. He asked if she would be willing to do a ride-along with one of the drivers and she instantly said, “Yes!” However, her chaperone/guardian Bethany Rademaker quickly vetoed the idea, for the safety of our queen, in spite of the emcee offering to find a helmet and duct tape the queen’s crown to the top of it.

Bone Stock Compact

The first heat of the night was the Bone Stock Compact Class. Notable characters in this event included local attorney Jim Grimaldi and the female duo of Michelle Hanson and Amy Robison, with Michelle driving.

The trio fared well throughout the heat, managing to stay moving almost to the very end.

A small fire in the Hanson vehicle sent Amy scurrying out the side window, but Michelle stayed inside the car, holding her nose and the wheel, with the hopes that she would be able to revive the engine once the Lincoln Rural Fire Department extinguished the fire. With the fire out Amy climbed back in, but Michelle was never able to get the car moving. At the end of the heat a quick interview with the pair revealed that they had a great time, and would hopefully be back next year.

Modified Compacts

This heat also featured some strong drivers, men and women alike, resulting in several minutes of crashing and banging before a winner rose out of the smoke and debris.

This class also tested the barriers of the field, with more than an occasion or two of cars plowing into the concrete barriers on the north end of the field and ‘re-arranging’ if you will.

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Super Street

The Super Street was a new class for this year. The emcee defined it as not quite stock and not quite modified, somewhere in between.

The heat featured only three vehicles, and for a while contestant number three was doubtful, until he came roaring into the field….in reverse! It turned out that the orange Drake-Scruggs car had no steering control. He endured the entire heat and made more than a few hearty strikes on his opponents.

Full Size Bone Stock

The Full Size Bone Stock was the largest class of the night with a field jamming 21 cars entered.

Among the 21 cars was Lincoln Mayor Seth Goodman. Goodman was appearing for the first time in a demo derby, and at the end of the night told the emcee said that it may not be his last time. Goodman was tough competition throughout the evening, with seemingly no fear of making and taking the hard hits.

With the large number of cars on the field, the gridlock was to be expected, and as cars gave up the ghost on the field, navigating through the carnage was almost a bigger challenge than avoiding hits from competitors.

In this heat, the services of the Lincoln Rural Fire Department were also required as a small fire was quickly extinguished and the heat moved on with little time out.

While the drama of the previous heat was a driver with no ability to steer his vehicle, in this heat halfway through, a driver lost his steering wheel all together! In spite of the obvious deterrent, the driver made his way through the track using only the hub of the steering column in his car.

Semi Stock

The Semi Stock was the last class of the night. Again it was an exciting heat that ended, in a way, anti-climactic. At the same time, the heat offered an excellent example of good sportsmanship, though to a certain degree, it may have backfired on the driver in the end.

When the heat was down to only two cars, the black and red 14, and the 87J of George Johnson, Johnson was in a position to win the heat, but opted to help out his competitor instead.

The number 14 was running and able to move, but was hung up and cornered. The driver tried desperately to free himself, with no luck. As the crowd booed the inevitable end to the heat, the driver of the 97 shut off his car, climbed out, and went to try to help the 14 car out. After a few minutes and some help from the derby crew and driver of the 97, the 14 car was freed and ready to roll. The 97 driver went back to his car and attempted to re-start his engine…and that was all she wrote. The car wouldn’t fire up. The 14 car was running and moving and became the winner of the heat.

While that did not end well for the 97, the driver’s unselfish attitude in the heat did not go unnoticed, and will probably be talked about among derby fans for a long time to come.

With the end of the Semi Stock, the evening was over. This year the derby lasted about 4 hours, much longer than last year’s event, and much better in the eyes of the crowds. Many left satisfied they had gotten more than their money’s worth at the last official event of the 81st Annual Logan County Fair.

[Nila Smith]

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