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Engines roar in demo derby

 

September 5, 2019

Shana Neesvig

TOP THREE – It was down to the final seconds Sunday night when Thompson Falls' James Cork (center, green car) and his 1980 Chevy Caprice claimed third place. Cork was relentless in not giving up and put on quite a show for the audience. First place was taken by Tyler Banks (left) and second went to Rob Pediso (right).

The smell of burnt rubber and exhaust on Labor Day weekend in Plains, Montana, means only one thing... it must be Demolition Derby night at the fairgrounds.

The main attraction had four entrants from Thompson Falls. David Hall was the driver of a 1967 Ford Fairlane sporting number 76; Robert Hall drove car number 188, a 1971 Buick Regal; Nate Clearmont put on a show with his 1974 Chevy Monte Carlo with the well-known and celebrated 406 number; and James Cork outfitted himself with a 1980 Chevy Caprice carrying the area's 827 phone prefix as the number.

Round one was won by Richard Sanders from Lewistown, Montana, in car number 43, a 1972 Buick, and eliminated both Robert Hall and David Hall. Clearmont and Cork made it through round one into the final heat in round three. Round two honors went to Billings resident Rob Pediso who drove a 1975 New Yorker.

The final round was by far the most exciting of them all. For some time, it was uncertain who would be the lone soldier. Bystanders were betting on who would make it to the end, though kept changing their minds as collisions occurred. Clearmont made it a fair way into the round before succumbing to the crashes and fell out of competition.

About halfway through the heat, Cork, Pediso and Sanders were the only drivers remaining. At least twice it seemed Cork was doomed. Counting him out of the running, focus went to Pediso and Sanders, just to hear Cork's Caprice rev up again and drive off in pursuit of his competition.

With four wheels bending out toward 90-degree angles and a severely smashed front and back, Cork continued to press forward. Screams and cheers of encouragement were numerous as he continuously surprised the crowd and fought until he no longer could, taking third place.

Finishing in the top spot was Tyler Banks of Manhattan, Montana, with his 1975 Cadillac showcasing number 419. Secondary honors went to Pediso.

To spice things up this year, the derby held a first-ever frozen t-shirt and fruit punch chugging contests, kids' demolition derby and lawnmower races. These events took place throughout the evening keeping the crowd entertained during derby intermissions.

The derby is repeatedly the most popular event at the fair. This year, it was dedicated to Tim "The Outlaw" Walter, who passed away last October at only 35 years of age. According to announcer Randy Garrison, Walter loved the derby and had a favorite saying, "Go fast, crash later."

A moment of silence was held prior to the event honoring Darlene Day. She was killed during the Tri-County Fair in Deer Lodge, Montana, only weeks ago when a vehicle jumped the barriers sending eight to the hospital and killing Day during the county's demolition derby.

According to Sanders County derby organizers they took added safety measures this year. As usual, they kept the track wet to prevent high speeds, but this year, they placed hay bales outside of the log barriers as an extra means of keeping spectators safe.

 

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