Fair's third day ends with demolition derby

Tuesday, September 10, 2002

Crashing metal, spinning tires and popping exhaust pipes.

The goal: to be the last car rolling to victory.

The 147th SEMO District Fair's demolition derby packed crowds into the arena grandstand Monday night with enthusiastic spectators eager to see lots of mayhem and destruction.

The day's total attendance was about 5,500 people, said fair board member Pete Poe.

"We had a real late crowd this evening due to the heat," Poe said Monday night. "They were late coming in, but when they got here, they stayed here."

Before the grudge match of 75 cars began, drivers prepared their cars with final adjustments, including extra welding to hold things together and a short meeting with officials to go over the rules of the competition.

Many of the cars sported hand-painted logos of sponsoring businesses and family names. Competitors lined their cars up back to back before the crowd counted down from five to the start of each division.

With every swift crunch of bumpers came an enthusiastic cheer from the audience.

"Oh! That was so cool!" said a young boy as one brightly painted car rolled back over the trunk of another. Unfortunately for the driver, the two cars became stuck and took a beating from the other vehicles before being flagged out of the derby by judges.

The derby was divided into four heats, with three cars chosen from each heat to take part in the finale. As the poundings became more severe, the derby roster grew thinner in the race to win the $500 feature prize. The event was managed by Auto Race Promotions Inc. of St. Louis.

Along with the smell of fried foods, smoke from the hot engines drifted to the crowds, along with an occasional spray of mud from underneath spinning tires.

"It all goes together," said fan Sue Stacy of Cape Girardeau. "It wouldn't be the fair without this."

mwells@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 160

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