10/11/09 — Crash. Bang. Last derby a doozy

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Crash. Bang. Last derby a doozy

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on October 11, 2009 2:00 AM

Jimmy Hare's derby car was stuck in a bale of hay, his tires spinning uncontrollably, as other cars sped up to smash into his '87 Chevy station wagon.

The bales of hay that caught Hare's Chevy were stacked around a concrete barricade erected around the Wayne County Regional Fair grandstand on Saturday afternoon.

The barricades were there to protect the hundreds of people who lined the seats to watch the Demolition Derby, an annual favorite at the local fair.

Saturday's winner, Tim Kimbrough of Grantham, will get a chance to compete at the 2009 N.C. State Fair in Raleigh. Runners up were Chris Lane, who is Kimbrough's brother, and Nikki Goins in third place.

Hare said had it not been for the wheel-catching bales of hay, he may have had a better chance to compete with Kimbrough's 1975 Chevrolet station wagon.

"If the hay hadn't been in the way, I could have got off," Hare said. "But once you get hung up like that, and those other cars got a chance to beat you and hammer you, that's what they're going to do.

"That's the name of the game," Hare said.

Name of the game or not, Hare, owner of Jimmy's Quick Hitch in Rosewood, said it was a bit frustrating for him to watch car after car smash into his.

In protest of the endless barrage of collisions, Hare stuck his arms through the hole where a windshield would normally go -- a momentary second of road rage during a decidedly ferocious heat.

Hare said that drivers aren't out there on their own: They form teams that work together to claim the top spots.

"I knew it (this heat) was going to be tough -- simple fact that there was five of them together, and there were two of us," Hare said.

Kimbrough, the day's winner, agreed with Hare that the competition had been fierce.

"The whole show was aggressive. It felt hellacious in there," Kimbrough said.

Demolition derby aficionados often choose older, American-built cars for their competitions, the winner said.

"The mid-70s (General Motors cars) are the best cars for this," said Kimbrough, who was the 2006 North Carolina champion in demolition derbies.

People who participate in the derbies are often close, said the 34-year-old Kimbrough.

"We hang out, give each other parts, that sort of thing. Everybody works together building the cars. We put on a show. I hope I made people cheer."

Although Kimbrough was reveling in the day's victory, he knew he had a long road ahead of him to prepare for the state fair.

The competition there will require him to start over -- with a new car.

"We've got a few that we can look at," Kimbrough said of his stable of potential demolition derby vehicles. "You pretty much start from scratch. Very little do you save."

Kimbrough said he plans on using a 1975 Buick Electra 225 when he competes at the state level.

The damage suffered by the station wagon he used on Saturday afternoon would probably prevent it from being driven again, Kimbrough said.

"According to what I see, I've got a lot of damage," he said.

But broken down vehicles are part of the fun, the demolition derby champion said.

"I love it," Kimbrough said. "What's not to like, you know?"