Pam Dudding Contributing writer
When people drive around Craig County, it’s easy to appreciate the beautiful trees, acres of farmland and majestic mountains. Hidden amongst those also includes homes with yards “decorated” with some old beat up or aged vehicles.
Craig County has become well known for its exciting Demolition Derby shows at the Craig County Fairgrounds.
“It’s Craig County boys at their best. We just like to smash them up and then shake hands. It’s a great sport,” said one regular.
On Saturday, July 27, several men of all ages entered the infamous ring for individual heats.
The Fairground Association were cooking as fast as they could to keep up with the unexpected crowd of over 500.
There were three small car heats and one full-size heat. The Johns Creek Fire Department, who was there if needed, watered the ring.
BJ Oliver, Bubbie Ponton, Jessie Bradford and Mike Ashley were the four judges.
The first heat drivers were: Brandon Haymore -1, Jason McAlwee – 40, Cole Dudley – 22, Braden Morrison – 69 and Sam Dillon – 18.
As soon as the horn blew, mud started slinging because, as the vehicles gained speed, they would spin into a 180-degree turn in the thick mud.
“That’s the way to do it boys,” said announcer Sammy Huffman over the speaker system. The more mud that was slung, the louder the crowd cheered.
Hits were hard. Dudley got stuck in the mud corner and slung mud 30-feet-high trying to get out.
Morrison and Haymore rammed McAlwee, while at the same time, pushing him around. But Morrison didn’t stop there though. He then pushed Haymore, McAlwee and Dudley against the wall. Haymore lost his hood and the radiator started spewing, but it didn’t stop him.
The engines were revving as each driver was trying to get traction in the thick mud to “do some damage” to the other cars.
Haymore, Morrison and Dillon won the top three spots to compete in the finale.
The second heat included: Barry Cassidy – Fatboy, Chris Boyd – One Nighter, Charlie Foutz – 38, Branden Campbell – 37 and Eddie Foutz – 88.
The ring was watered down, and it didn’t take long before mud was slinging into the stands and into the tower where Huffman had to duck a few times.
Boyd hit Charlie and pushed him backward. That didn’t intimidate Charlie as he gunned the engine and pushed Boyd right back.
Hits were made by everyone. Charlie dragged his bumper around behind him as he kept hitting.
Eddie went for One Nighter and drove under his car, up into the mud and held him there for a few seconds, until One Nighter put the pedal to the metal and pushed Eddie out.
The top three drivers were Cassidy, Boyd and Charlie. The judges picked up many parts before the next heat.
The third small car heat proved to be a demolition show too. Justin Torres – 37, Bailey Holt – 08, Chad Ryan – 44, Sam Foutz – 5 and Ethan Brown in the Green machine all battled in the ring.
Ryan rammed Foutz and almost went over the wall himself, as his backup lights kicked on and off. Holt and Ryan made hard hits too.
Brown chased Ryan around ring while mud was spun into the stands. Holt was pushed against the wall. Holt, Ryan and Brown took top three positions for the finale.
As Foutz was being towed out, with the front of his car lifted, out of habit he started steering the car. Huffman then shouted from the tower, “You can turn that thing all you want Foutz, I don’t think it’s going to help.”
The small car finale heat included: Haymore, Morrison, Dillon, Cassidy, Boyd, Charlie Foutz, Holt and Brown.
Holt started spinning in the mud and Morrison got stuck. Haymore rammed Morrison and took him out. Everyone was seriously “playing” demo derby.
Parts were flying off as fast as mud was being slung. Foutz hit Haymore, and flames shot out of his pipe.
Brown and Dillon had their pedal to the metal non-stop, even though Dillon’s car was spewing with parts hanging off.
Foutz rammed Fatboy, but he retaliated and then Dillon took his shot. Foutz was out.
Dillon hit reverse and slammed Fatboy and Brown hit Dillon. Fatboy rammed Brown into the corner and Dillon helped.
Brown came out, focused and circled to hit Fatboy, hitting him twice as Fatboy waved him off.
Brown and Dillon then went head to head until Brown was waved off by Dillon.
When it was all said and done, Brown placed first, Dillon came in second and Cassidy Fatboy took home third place honors. Brown also took the Mad Dog Award.
The last heat was the full-size cars and they seemed to be ‘on ready.’
Those drivers were: Jimmy Owens – 09, Donnie Fisher (Trouble Maker) – 21, PJ Welch – 56, Jeremiah Law (Wild Thing) – 17 and Eric Blankenship – 27.
The horn blew and immediately Fisher rammed Owens into the wall and then went after Welch.
Blankenship then rammed Fisher into the wall and pushed him with power.
The cars were big, and the metal crunching was loud. Radiators spewed and tires blew as mud was slung, causing people to block its frantic aim.
Fisher then rammed Law in the side three times. He backed up revving his engine, hit again and then rammed Welch. After that, Fisher revved his engine louder as the crowd cheered. It was over.
Drivers got out of their cars and walked towards each other. Hugs and handshakes were exchanged with much laughter and words.
“We can get in that ring and put on the best demolition show,” many drivers note. “But, when it comes down to it, we’re all friends and this is for fun.”
Fisher took first, Law took second and Welch placed third. When the trophies were being handed out, Fisher received the Mad Dog Award and held up a sign which read, “This is what I wanted.”
As BJ Oliver handed out the trophies, he thanked every driver that won and participated. “I hope you will come back for the next one,” he said. Every driver seemed very appreciative, commenting that they will definitely return.
The 50/50 drawing was to benefit five-year-old Jackson who recently was bitten badly in the face and arm by a dog and needs surgery.
Jackson’s dad, David, put his hand down in the bag and pulled out a number. It just happened to be his aunt. “That was an act of God if I ever saw one,” said one spectator. She won $404.00 and Jackson took the other $404.00 home.
Huffman thanked everyone that helped to make the derby possible and invited all the spectators and drivers back for the Fall Festival which is scheduled to take place on Saturday, October 12.