Huge crowd sees – and hears – Demolition Derby at Field Days
NEW HAVEN — In addition to mangling already badly damaged remnants of formerly valuable vehicles, awarding cash prizes and trophies and entertaining and deafening a couple thousand fans of motorized mayhem, Thursday’s G. Stone Motors Demolition Derby at Addison County Fair and Field Days answered a few burning questions.
One question literally related to burning: How quickly can members of the Vergennes Fire Department put out a fire in an engine compartment?
Answer: Based on three incidents on Thursday, give them about 10 seconds and they’ll get it done.
Another question: Can there be true love at a demo derby?
Answer: Absolutely. Derby veteran Hog Wild (real name Ethan Gevry) had the name “Ashlie” painted on all of his several vehicles. Ashlie is Ashlie Bodington, another Demo Derby regular. Her cars read: “44 Days Until Mrs. Hog Wild.”
Another question: Do fans get creative?
Answer: Fans of the Whitney family of drivers all wore black T-shirts with “Team Whitney” on the back and “Talk Derby To Me” on the front.
OK, just one more: What can be more American than a demo derby car painted to look like the Stars and Stripes?
Answer: Three demo derby cars painted to look like the Stars and Stripes.
Maybe two more: Is there money, as well as bragging rights, at stake?
Answer: You bet.
After thunderstorms wiped out most of Wednesday’s program, most of that night’s qualifiers and features were jammed into Thursday’s three-and-a-half hours of blown radiators, popped tires, and final vehicles sort of running. The drivers of those surviving junkers shared what the announcer said totaled $7,000 of award money.
Feature winners were Gary Grant, Chris Summer, Kelsi Bean, Brian Blake, Ethan Gevry and AJ Sumner. They and the second- and third-place finishers shared the pot.
4-CYLINDER FEATURE #2
Grant won the second 4-cylinder feature that capped the marathon evening. An active start saw Grant, Dustin “Wild Child” Tierney, Greg Whitney, Dylan Keith, Blake and Gevry dish out the best hits, as defined by long run-ups and no braking.
Whitney, Gevry, Tierney and Grant were the final four running. Gevry’s car looked to have the best legs, but suddenly stalled out. The final three dueled it out in the right corner in slow motion with what their sputtering sedans had left to offer.
Tierney’s dark four-door gave up the ghost, leaving Grant’s silver ride and Whitney’s white rig to slug it out. Whitney appeared to have the upper hand, but Grant rode him up onto one of the concrete blocks surrounding the field of battle, and Whitney could not escape despite his efforts to use his body weight as well as transmission to rock the car free.
6-CYLINDER FEATURE #1
The 6-cylinder feature showed that 1.5 tons of metal is a great equalizer. Rachel Burt, Kylie Martell, Jeritt Patch, Tierney, Dawson McGrath and Kevin Pearsall did early damage, and then Kelsi Bean started to come on strong.
The action quickly narrowed the field to three: Burt, Pearsall and Bean. Burt’s car looked like it might be running the best, but an engine fire ended her night. That left Pearsall, a six-foot-five recent Mount Abraham Union High School graduate who was a standout football player and wrestler, to duel with Bean, who might stand five-foot-five with her boots on.
But behind the wheel size didn’t matter, and their driving skills were a match. Both escaped corners, and they traded solid crunches in a small patch of turf in the left side, penned in by the fallen. Finally, Bean made a break for a larger area and more room to maneuver, but slid sideways into a block and didn’t have room to reverse out.
Pearsall moved in to finish the bout and bumped her twice. Bean backed into him gently once, and was still trying to escape when Pearsall’s car stalled. Officials called the match for Bean just before Pearsall could coax his struggling beater back into motion.
The 8-cylinder feature also saw major destruction right from the start and a one-on-one duel at the end. Matt Bourgeois, Kyle Lafontaine, Chris Sumner and Tajah Marsden came out firing, and veteran Boomer Lafountain soon joined the party. At one point Sumner hit a rig driven by Kenny Marcelle so hard Sumner’s car climbed halfway up Marcelle’s.
The big beaters quickly took their toll, and soon only Sumner, LaFountain and Marsden were operable. Marsden looked to have the win sewn up when both her opponents were hung up at the back of the track, and she back-ended them both several times. But Sumner escaped, dealt LaFountain’s dark red four-door a fatal blow, and then he and Marsden squared off in the right corner.
Both cars were running reasonably well given the pounding they had taken, but Marsden’s reverse gear gave out when she was nosed into a corner. Sumner gave her white sedan’s backside a couple of taps and waited for the inevitable.
The minivan feature also answered a question: Who knew the family-friendly vehicles could take so much punishment?
Despite fearless and aggressive thumps — from Bodington, Kevin Desjardin, Chris “Bad Boy” Bap, Gevry, Adam Stewart, Tim Whitney Sr. and Gary English — that rag-dolled drivers and slammed vehicles into — and in some cases over — concrete blocks, most of the vans took a licking and just kept ticking for a surprisingly long time.
But ultimately steaming radiators, trashed transmissions and broken axles reduced the field to Gevry, Stewart and Bapp. Bapp’s night ended when Gevry rammed Stewart into Bapp’s red ride. Gevry, still running strong, belted Stewart’s tastefully painted purple and aqua van twice, and despite some minor flames under his engine compartment Gevry won the feature.
4-CYLINDER FEATURE #1
The first 4-cylinder feature offered something for those who have never been able to travel to Yellowstone National Park: Tierney’s car took a front-end hit early on and sprayed a geyser of radiator steam 30 feet into the air.
Fans also saw Tierney, Mark Billings Jr., A.J. Sumner, Gevry and Whitney share their enthusiasm for demo derby with dramatic hits, including the sight of Whitney running Gevry out of the track at one point — although Gevry worked his way back into the field of battle.
When the steam settled, Sumner, Billings and Gevry were left running. Sumner and Whitney together wiped out Gevry, and then went head to head — at one point literally, with Sumner’s car proving stronger and pushing Whitney’s backward. That incident proved to be prophetic, as eventually after a few blows Whitney’s car ran out of steam, leaving Sumner to celebrate.
6-CYLINDER FEATURE #2
Blake outlasted the field in an active second 6-cylinder feature, another event moved from Wednesday. Drivers going for the gusto included Jacob Birchmore, Morgan Huestis, Grant, Blake and Eli Paquin.
Birchmore probably did the most damage and looked like a good bet to cash in, but Blake dealt him a lethal blow and he finished fourth, one out of the money, leaving him in the field with Huestis and Grant. Blake crunched Huestis twice, and meanwhile Grant’s rig never recovered from an earlier hit from Huestis. Grant’s and then Huestis’s vehicles succumbed to their wounds, and Blake finished first.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at email@example.com.