10/02/06 — A family-style rumble

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A family-style rumble

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on October 2, 2006 1:55 PM

Nikki Goins tightened her grip on the wheel and revved the engine of her mud-spattered black and pink Buick Skylark.

The Mar-Mac resident knew the first leg of Sunday's Demolition Derby -- and the beginning of her career in the sport -- were mere moments away.

But when the announcer said 'go' and she took her first career lick on the track, she didn't sweat it.

She knew the driver of the blue and white station wagon across the way wouldn't let her go down without a fight.

After all, protecting his little girl was this 21-year Derby veteran's top priority.

"I try to stay cool until the end," David Goins said. "Unless somebody goes after my daughter. Then, I'll go wild on them."

With every crash and spinout, crowds at the Wayne County Fairgrounds cheered from around the ring and atop the ambulances and fire trucks parked around it.

All of the drivers hoped their cars would survive. But some had another goal, too -- steer clear of Nikki.

They knew that even the slightest bump would provoke a reaction from her father.

Over the years, fond memories from the track at the Wayne Regional Agricultural Fair have been commonplace for Goins, he said.

Still, playing the role of his daughter's protector on this particular Sunday at the fair was special.

"There isn't probably anyone else who gets to do that," Goins said. "Yeah, that was fun out there."

As father and daughter shared a Mountain Dew and assessed the damage on the 114 and 214 cars, they talked about Nikki's first race.

"You really need to hit everything with your back end," she said. "You try to protect what's under the hood, which I didn't do."

Nikki didn't win. Still, her father smiled as he expressed pride in her performance.

"You were holding that one guy, you held him and I just nailed him," Goins said. "You did just fine. It was unbelievable how good you did."

Nikki said her performance was a reflection of good teaching -- and a result of the penchant for destruction that rages through the family blood.

"He gave me some pointers but you never know what to expect until you get out there," she said. "I just had to get a feel for it. My Mustang at home looks worse than this. I wreck it all the time. People say I was born for this."

Maybe that's why Sunday's ride left her hooked.

"I wasn't too sure at first, but I had a lot of fun," Nikki said. "I'll probably keep doing it if Daddy keeps building me cars."

Goins said he doesn't plan on hanging up his keys anytime soon -- not while his little girl is still on the track.

"I look after her," he said. "As long as she wants to go, I'll go with her."