Demo Derby brings flips, fire and fun

NEW HAVEN — An estimated crowd of more than 6,000 fans enjoyed a cool breeze and even colder drinks last Thursday as competitors faced off in one of the most beloved events the annual Addison County Fair and Field Days has to offer: the No. 1 Auto Parts Demolition Derby.
“The event is huge for our fair. Everybody just loves it,” said Diane Norris, the fair’s vice president.
Demo Derby devotees watched as decked-out cars — many painted with vivid colors and the names of family members and girlfriends — smashed into one another for a chance to win not just a trophy and prize money, but to earn bragging rights in front of a crowd comprised of their neighbors and friends. Over the course of the two-night competition, 149 cars roared through the gladiatorial arena, otherwise known as the tractor pad.
“I think the fan draw is that everybody here watching knows somebody that’s in there with a car. Everybody loves to watches somebody they know. It’s family fun at its best,” Norris said.
Thursday night, the final stage of the competition, declared winners in five features: four-, six- and eight-cylinder; mini-van; and pickup truck.
The winner of this year’s pickup truck feature was Kevin Clark of Bristol. His 2002 Chevy Suburban was sponsored by his employer, G. Stone Motors of Middlebury. The orange and black truck was painted and prepared by Clark and his colleagues, and was one of the most aesthetically pleasing vehicles to compete in last Thursday’s event.
“We had a crew, it was a bunch of guys at the shop. We’re all service techs,” Clark said. “We all came together on it and got it done.”
This bout got off to a slow start, then Caroll Hallock, driving a green and black truck, got the action going with a couple of solid hits on Ethan Gevry, aka “Hog Wild,” and Clark. Clark responded by landing a solid hit on a blue and green truck driven by Morgan Delorme, who got caught on a cement barrier.
Delorme, unable to reverse off the barrier, motioned to a forklift operator who then pushed the vehicle back into the arena. For a few minutes, it seemed as though Delorme was back in play; but the feature paused when officials determined that help from a forklift driver was not allowed. Delorme was out.
Clark got back to work, exchanging blows with Dustin Tierney and Hunter Given, who finished second and third, respectively. Clark’s radiator got pushed into the fan and almost stopped the engine. But he dealt a final blow to Tierney, which caused his competitor’s Dodge to catch fire, and Clark came out on top. Volunteers from the Vergennes Fire Department quickly responded, and the competitors then collected their hardware.
This was Clark’s first demo derby.
“It’s pretty crazy. You have to keep your head on a swivel. I just made sure when people were coming at me to brace for it and made sure the truck stayed running,” he said. “It hurts when you get hit. I’m good right now but I’m sure I will hurt later. I’ve just gotta suck it up and go to work.”
It didn’t take long for this year’s mini-van feature to deliver some action. Just seconds into the heat, Ethan “Hog Wild” Gevry and Maverick Payne delivered a double hit on Shane Wood, causing his vehicle to flip on the driver’s side door.
“I’ve waited two years to see something flip,” announcer Dick Therrien roared over the microphone.
After Wood was safely removed from his vehicle, the action recommenced. Gary English, who finished third in this year’s heat, quickly got to work. He delivered hits to nearly all of his fellow competitors, including a hit on Scott Cram, aka Crash Cram, that resulted in an audible gasp from the audience. “Hog Wild” Gevry then got to work, delivering a series of blows to Tim Whitney Sr. The two went back and forth until Whitney’s car began to smoke, and he was eliminated.
This year’s winner was Brian Blake, who faced off against Gevry for the title. The two exchanged heavy blows, backing one another into barriers on either side of the arena. However, it was Blake who delivered the fatal blow, backing into Gevry and causing the largest fire of the evening. Gevry quickly jumped out of his vehicle, the VFD responded, and Blake was declared the winner.
The winner of the eight-cylinder feature was Brent Warren, whose red and black vehicle went by the name “Kid Dynamite.” When it came down to the final three competitors, Warren dealt a series of blows to Wade Steele and Wilfred “Boomer” Lafountain, who finished second and third, respectively.
Of all the cars to make it to the feature, Lafountain’s appeared to be in the worst shape. However, it’s who is behind the wheel and what’s under the hood that matters, not the outside. Lafountain delivered a series of blows to Steele, who responded in kind and, with the help of Warren, put Lafountain out of commission.   ROXIE HALL FEELS the heat of an engine fire during last Wednesday’s demo derby at the fair in New Haven.
Independent photo/Trent Campbell
Warren and Steel then took turns dealing heavy blows and backing one another into different corners of the arena. At one point, as the competitors battled, a cloud of smoke engulfed the area.
“We can’t see anything,” Therrien exclaimed.
Shortly thereafter, Warren delivered a final blow and was named the champion. Both drivers exited their vehicles, embraced, and demonstrated the high level of sportsmanship that spectators witnessed throughout the night. 
Third-place finisher Brandon Tierney dealt a series of devastating blows early in the six-cylinder feature. His hits marked the end of several competitors. He also sustained some hits earlier on from Wendall Mason and Kylie Martell, both of whom he would face in the final three.
Mason delivered a number of hits to Martell. After sustaining heavy blows, Martell then got to work, returning a hit from Tierney, engaging in a back-and-forth with Ben Huestis until he was eliminated, and then landing a heavy blow on Mason.
Martell and Mason then engaged in a back-and-forth of their own until Mason’s hood popped. Martell kept up the pressure, landing a number of hits until, finally, coming out on top.
The four-cylinder feature was the day’s final event. Earlier that night, 30 drivers competed in three separate heats to earn a place in the title round. Those who finished in the top three of their heat advanced to the feature.
Johnny Hill made sure the feature got off to a hot start, after he delivered a big hit to Phillip Armel. “Hog Wild” Gevry, then went after Hill, dealing him a series of heavy blows. RJ Towle also got to work, landing several hits on Hill and Gevry. However, Gevry soon responded, landing two consecutive hits to Towle, who was eventually eliminated.
Second-place finisher Phillip Jerome then found himself in the middle of the action, where he landed several hits on Hog Wild, and sustained even more from Gary Grant, who finished third after his vehicle caught fire.
At this stage, Gevry began to deal a series of blows to Jerome. At one point, it seemed as though Jerome’s vehicle had stalled, but, it suddenly came to life and returned Hog Wild’s hits.
In the end, it was Ethan “Hog Wild” Gevry who came out on top. He trapped Jerome in a corner and began pounding away until he was named the champion and the crowd erupted in one final cheer. 

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