Demolition Derby an enduring attraction at Delaware State Fair



HARRINGTON – These folks are wired a little bit differently, much like the cars and trucks they drive and even some of the people who gather in the grandstands and infield to watch them.

Unlike the superstar drivers in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series, demolition derby drivers are looking to be involved in a crash.

The drive to be the last driver standing was the lure of the Manlove Auto Parts Demolition Derby in front of a jam-packed M&T Bank Grandstand at the Delaware State Fair on a hot, humid Friday night.

Milton’s Matt Cooper survived to win the hard-hitting feature event to capture the trophy and take the $1,000 winner’s check.

Magnolia Deputy Chief Buck Dougherty’s Lincoln was painted yellow, just like his town’s firetrucks. It had several funny features on its doors, including “Firefighters Kick Ash.”

“I’ve been watching demolition derbies since I was a little kid and always had it on my bucket list and now I have a chance to take it off my bucket list,” Deputy Chief Dougherty said. “[Friday was] the night to do it.”

Morgan Hudson, of Dover, is a candidate in the race to be the Rep. District 33 Representative this fall. That didn’t stop her from climbing behind the wheel of her car that was decked out in red, white and blue stripes.

“I just do this for the pure fun of it,” Ms. Hudson said. “This is my third year driving in the demolition derby. I did win on a technicality my first year just because I was the only female competing [laughs].”

Dakota Bogel, a 9-year-old from Millsboro, was excited as his family stood in line at the box office to get tickets to the demolition derby in scorching temperatures.

“I just want to see a lot of crashes,” he said. “It’s going to be fun.”

Bogel was attending his first demolition derby with Michael Lister, of Lewes.

“I love the loud noise, smoke, fire and all the crashes,” Mr. Lister said. “I did a couple of demolition derbies myself years ago and I remember that it hurt, so it should be a little better in the grandstand.”

The fans counted each heat race and the feature down, “10-9-8.” When they reached zero, the carnage began.

Coleby Etherton, of Seabrook, New Jersey, was driving one of the most popular trucks in the derby, with the character Pikachu from Pokemon on his hood and his doors.

“This actually started out as a big joke,” Mr. Etherton said. “We always mess with each other’s trucks and I showed up one day to help paint them and my truck was painted like Pokemon.

“Everybody likes it so I went along with the theme. I think it looks really good.”

While there is the competitive side of the demolition derby, that didn’t appear to be the only objective at the state fair.

The zany event seemed to fit in comfortably with its surroundings such as “The World’s Smallest Horse,” Donut Burgers and everything else state fairish and fun.

“All I really care about is to go out there and have a good time – that’s about it,” said Brian Vendrick, of New Castle. “There’s definitely some time invested in it. It’s fun, though … a whole lot of fun.”

Wayne Brittingham of Harrington won the truck division, overcoming his vehicle turning on its side early in the event.

Harrington’s Mark Lewis won the Chain-and-Go division.

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