The Great Frederick Fair’s demolition derby tends to turn twisted, smoking heaps of wreckage into a family affair.
Several of the more than 40 registrants said they had worked on their derby cars with family members and had gotten into the sport through a relative.
Frederick resident Leroy Stallings teasingly tried to convince his niece to run in the derby as they waited for the event to start.
Stallings participated in the derby for two or three years, he said, until his doctor recommended against it because of a back injury.
“I want to be back in it so bad, but they won’t let me,” Stallings said. “It’s fun. It’s exciting.”
His niece, Polly Simpson, used to help him prepare his derby car. To participate in the event, drivers must remove glass windows, the rear seat and make other modifications for safety. Simpson said she learned a good deal about cars that way.
She wasn’t sure she would ever run in the derby, she said, but she was excited to see her first demolition derby.
“Even when I was a young child, I wanted to come, but my mom wouldn’t let me,” she said.
The seven matches, or heats, of the derby had the drivers smash into the other vehicles to immobilize them. The last car running was declared the winner. The final heat was made up of the surviving competitors of the earlier heats.
Tommy Fogle emerged victorious in the final bout with Alex Garwin taking second place.
In the second heat, the crowd cheered when there was a fire in car 19 and the match was stopped to allow the driver to exit his car.
The spectators also became excited when the front end of the 10X car became stuck on a barrier in the next round and the driver was eventually able to back off it.
Several drivers have turned the derby into a tradition.
Frederick’s Elton Myers has been involved in derbies for decades, according to his wife, now separated, Sharon Myers.
Elton Myers declined an interview because he was working to prepare his 1984 Ford station wagon for the derby, but Sharon Myers said the event was like a hobby that helped keep connected with family and friends.
“It’s like a get-together, so to speak,” she said.
The Myers’ had painted the derby car green and yellow like a John Deere tractor at the request of Elton Myers’ 5-year-old grandson, who was watching in the stands.
Drivers typically buy a junk vehicle and repair it for the match.
“Every year it’s like a gift, because you never know what kind of vehicle you’re going to get,” Sharon Myers said.