Washington County Fair’s demolition derby tears it up despite threat of torrential rain, hail and lightning

More than 50 cars enter the demolition derby at the 2018 Washington County Fair, Hurricane, Utah, Aug. 11, 2018 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

HURRICANE — The demolition derby at the 2018 Washington County Fair had a little bit of everything, from crowd-cheering fun to fast cars and crashes, a tradition that has endured for decades and continued on Saturday despite a thunderstorm that included torrential rain and even hail and threatened an early end to the evening’s events.

Washington County Sheriff Cory Pulsipher was on high alert and in communication with Washington County Emergency Services to determine where the storm was headed and if the racetrack was in the storm cell’s line of sight.

“We knew the bigger storm cells were above Washington, Santa Clara and Ivins, and the lightning was coming from Pine Valley,” Pulsipher said, “but we had to make sure everyone was safe and wouldn’t be struck by lightning while sitting in the aluminum stands.”

The fierce thunderstorm cell passed through the area relatively quickly, and the fairgrounds in Hurricane were spared from the worst of it. The annual event went on as scheduled, and Pulsipher said he was glad that he didn’t have to call it.

More than 50 cars enter the demolition derby at the 2018 Washington County Fair, Hurricane, Utah, Aug. 11, 2018 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

“These people pay good money to be here,” he said, “and it worked out.”

The rain and lightning didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits, as dozens of racers revved their engines to life and the derby went through seven rounds of “heats” before finally getting to the “crash ’em up” portion of the evening.

The derby traditionally ushers in the final act of the Washington County Fair as cheering fans packed the grandstands to watch specially modified cars racing around the arena with the goal of not only winning but also having fun.

For anyone who hasn’t seen one before, the demolition derby is a spectacle in which drivers compete by ramming their cars and trucks into one another – on purpose. Hitting the driver’s side door is prohibited and may result in disqualification if the hit was intentional. The last running car to make contact with another vehicle wins that heat or round.

More than 50 cars enter the demolition derby at the 2018 Washington County Fair, Hurricane, Utah, Aug. 11, 2018 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

The vehicles used in demolition derbies take a lot of time and attention to prepare. They are completely stripped down. There are no lighting or signaling devices, all glass is removed and the doors are welded shut. In order to get into the vehicle, the driver usually has to climb through a window.

The muddy course Saturday made for a rough ride as a number of cars stalled, while others raced around the track on tires that kicked up red dirt that was sent flying through the air.

David May traveled from Salt Lake City to participate in the event along with his son Spencer. David May arrived too late to enter his own car this year,  but said he “came anyway to support my son,” adding that both he and his son entered the derby last year and “had a blast.”

“It’s a good group of people out here,” Spencer May said, “and we’re all here for the same reason – to bang some stuff up – and maybe win a little money while we’re doing it.”

Spencer May went on to take second place in the second heat of the Figure 8 race.

On Monday, the additional winners were announced as follows:

  • Youth oval heat 1 (ages 8-14): 1st – Mckree Farnsworth; 2nd – Karter Wetzel; 3rd – Kiara Whitney.
  • Youth oval heat 2 (ages 8-14): 1st – Jacob Hardy; 2nd – Kaulin Wetzel; 3rd – Riley Staples.
  • Figure 8 heat 1: 1st – Lance Byington; 2nd – Mitch Peterson; 3rd – Guy Salisbury.
  • Figure 8 heat 2: 1st – Timothy Murphy; 2nd – Spencer May; 3rd – Dan Cooney.
  • Figure 8 heavy: 1st – Tral Johnson; 2nd – Howard Whitney; 3rd – Dalton Guzman.
  • Mini derby: 1st – Korben Chasten; 2nd – John Hardy; 3rd – Ryan Farnsworth.
  • Trucks: 1st – Paul Cox; 2nd – Anthony Trippler; 3rd – Taylor Stock.
  • Stock cars : 1st – Milton Edwards; 2nd – Stan McDonald; 3rd – Paul Cox.

Updated Aug. 13, 11 a.m. with winners list.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.


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