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Large crowd attends spring demo derby

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By Dave Taylor

The News-Democrat

There were few, if any, empty bleacher seats at Saturday’s “Spring Bash” demolition derby at the Carroll County Fairgrounds. Dozens of others sat and stood in the beds of pickup trucks parked around the arena. Customers lining up at the fair board’s concession stand numbered nearly 100 at any given time during the night. A quick estimate of bleacher seats yielded a count of more than 1,100 spectators on hand for the stand alone event, one of the best attended demolition derbies ever promoted by the locals.

There were quite a number of autos entered in the various classes: compact cars, 1980 and newer model cars, and figure eight racing. About 60 lawn mowers were on hand to compete in their own scramble. There were entrants from as far as West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana and from all over the state of Kentucky.

Ron Bryant, an entrant from Hamilton, Ohio, said there were 18 mowers entered and several autos from that city alone. Many of the drivers and crew members wore matching team shirts.

Shannon Smith, of Scottsburg, Ind., seemed typical of many of the demolishers. Smith has been participating in events of this type since 1988. In that time he says he has trashed 35 to 40 cars and has four wins to his credit. Smith has vowed to quit a few times but stays involved because it’s something he and his 15-year-old son do together. He said his car for Saturday night began its service as a 1992 Mercury Grand Marquis. It was unrecognizable as such, even before the bashing began.

“It’s a family thing,” he said. “We enjoy working on the cars together.”

Participants often spend between $1,200 to $6,000 on their cars.

“Between $2,000 and $2,500 is what most normally spend. You might spend about $200 for the shell of a car. I have a pretty good motor, so I switch it out from car to car, and the battery,” Smith said. “The cars must be stripped of all glass and plastic.”

Bryant said he had heard of one person spending up to $10,000 in preparation for a demolition derby in Ohio. “That’s kind of going to the extreme,” he said.

Vernon Smith, who is not related to Shannon Smith, was among those who traveled from Hamilton, Ohio, to compete. It was Vernon’s first time to participate in a demo event. He spent less than $1,000 on his 1981 Ford Mustang in preparation for the slam-bang event, he said.

Winners received cash awards and impressive trophies. Trophies were also awarded to numerous runners-up. Larry and Barbara Coghill coordinated the event.

The names of winners and runners-up were released by Barbara Coghill:

Lawn mowers: first place, Anthony Wagers; second place, Brad Applegate.

Figure eight winner: Chris McCintosh.

Compacts: first place, Jason Pennington; second place, Bobby Rice; third place, Donnie Rutherford; fourth place, Roger Coldiron; fifth place, Jeremy Johnson; and Mad Dog award, Richard Dalton.

1980 and Newer: first place, Randy Greenwell; second place, Shawn McCollum; third place, Zack Burton; fourth place, Nick King; fifth place and Mad Dog award, Joe Frieberger.