The engines redlined, the tires squealed, and metal crunched at the Clarke County Fair’s Figure 8 Demolition Derby on Tuesday night. Twenty-one adrenaline-fueled drivers competed in three heats on the dusty course.
Their goal was to negotiate a figure eight between two dirt mounds for fifteen minutes and be the last car running at the end of the bashing and crashing. Spectators packed the bleachers on both sides of the course to watch the excitement.
In the first heat, drivers Bryan Russell and John Shiffler competed against five others. Russell drove a stripped down Chevette. He had done well in competitions in Frederick County. Shiffler drove a vintage Celica in his first ever Figure 8 race. Both stuck it out for several laps but top honors went to Alan Jones of Winchester in a Saturn.
Heat two featured some two-wheel teetering, a blown engine and steaming radiators with three drivers progressing to the finals, including winner Scott Nalevanko of Lovettsville in a Honda. Nalevanko of In Motion Motors in Leesburg is a veteran demolition derby racer. How did he come about picking his little Honda for competion? “Someone gave it to me for free,” he said. He explained that in these Figure 8 races the prep time and expense is minimal because there is no engine swapping or upgrading. The vehicles are all essentially stock four-cylinders with a healthy mix of American and foreign makes represented.
Brawnier models faced off in the third heat with Kenny Moreland of Bunker Hill in a Dodge decorated in crowd pleasing stars and stripes. Moreland was a co-winner. Randy Mowrey of Romney, WV competed in a Pontiac. The sturdy Grand Am took two days to strip and a day to paint and finish up according to Mowrey. He only had one other race under his belt. When asked about his strategy, a friend suggested, “Go fast!” It paid off as Mowrey advanced to the finals as co-winner.
The cheers and thrills notched up with the final heat as the best of seven drivers from the other heats took the course. Drivers swerved to avoid collisions while others crunched and scrapped their way past rivals to get an edge in the turns. The lanes were tight and no one hesitated to ram a stalled car out of the way to get around it. Being nimble with the brakes was also beneficial as the cars criss-crossed in the middle of the figure eight nearly at head-on angles. In the end, Jersey Jones of Stevenson prevailed to take top honors. He ran a very clean race. Moreland in his patriotic Dodge and Mowrey in his Grand Am battled it out for shared second place finishes.
The rest of the four-wheeled gladiators surveyed the wreckage, tallied up their bruises and went back to the pit area to plot strategy for another time.
The action continues with the free-for-all style Demolition Derby on Saturday at 3:30pm. The International Truck and Tractor Pull happens tonight night at 7:00pm after the 6:00pm concert by Amanda Mackintosh. There’s a rodeo full of thrills and spills on Friday night at 8:00pm. So head on out to the Clarke County Fair and cheer for your favorites.
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