07/24/11 — Fair officials changing demolition derby rules

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Fair officials changing demolition derby rules

By Aaron Moore
Published in News on July 24, 2011 1:50 AM

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News-Argus file photo

Drivers pile into one another during the demolition derby held at the 2010 Wayne Regional Agricultural Fair. The event, which has proved so popular that fair officials have scheduled two competitions each year, will be shortened to two hours and the field limited to fewer drivers this year. Not all competitors are happy about the change.

With plans to change some of the rules governing the annual demolition derby at the Wayne Regional Agricultural Fair, drivers and fair officials said they're not sure what the event will look like in the fall.

But they agree it won't be the same as it has been, and some drivers aren't happy about that.

Among the changes, each derby will be limited to two hours and 27 drivers; drivers will be randomly assigned to race in one of the two derbies; drivers who use profanity will be disqualified; and drivers will have to pay the $30 entry fee by Sept. 19 instead of the day of the derby.

The fair is scheduled to be held Sept. 29 through Oct. 8. The popularity of the derby has led fair officials in recent years to schedule two derby events, one the first weekend of the fair and the second on the final weekend.

Fair Manager Milton Ingram said the changes are part of the fair's goal to reduce the event to two hours.

"We're trying to make it more efficient than it's been in the past," Ingram said. "All we're trying to do is streamline it, and some of these guys are trying to resist change."

Ingram said past derbies have had up to 45 drivers involved and took six hours to complete

"The derbies took too long, they were tying up paying customers," Ingram said. "They couldn't enjoy the rest of the fair."

But drivers said it's the derbies that bring customers to the fair, not the other way around.

"They wouldn't even attend the fair if not for the derby," said Josh Kiser, who has raced in the derby for six years. "It's not every day people crash cars. In the everyday world, it's a collision, it's a wreck, people get hurt. This is fun."

Kiser said many drivers are upset over the changes because they limit their race time. After pouring hours and dollars into preparing their cars, Kiser said getting to compete against only 26 racers instead of 45 makes for a disappointing show.

"I don't want people to perceive that demolition derby is a redneck sport," he said, discussing the hard work and dedication of drivers. "You might be knocked out in the first five minutes, but that's a month of work that went into your car and $1,000 that went into your engine."

David Goins, who will enter his 27th derby this fall, said he thought the derby was fine the way it was and doesn't need fixing.

"I just don't understand why they want to go in and make all these changes when they had such a successful derby last year," Goins said.

He added that he thought fair officials should keep the derby the same to preserve Pam Aycock's legacy. Mrs. Aycock was formerly in charge of the derbies until she died in February.

"She was the one who was really behind it," Goins said. "I think it ought to be the same in memory of her."

Goins' own legacy in the demolition derby extends to his daughter, Nikki, and his protégé, Chris Lane, both of whom have won state championships in the derby.

"It's cool to get your butt whipped by somebody you taught," Goins said.

Lane, who has been racing for 15 years, said he has often considered racing on other, higher paying tracks. But for him, it's not about the money or the glory.

"When I get up in the morning, I think about derbying. When I go to bed at night, I think about derbying," Lane said. "It's my only hobby."

And the Wayne County derby holds a special place in his heart, he said.

Goins added that he thought spectators would be disappointed by the shorter race time.

"A lot of people that come, they wouldn't even come to the fair if it wasn't for the derby," Goins said. "They want to see as much excitement as they can. The more cars, the better -- more competition. If they didn't have a derby, it's gonna cut out a big portion of people going to the fair."

But with drivers threatening to boycott the derby, Ingram said the event is replaceable, though he said he hopes it doesn't come to that.

"If we don't have a derby, I'm sorry. We've got to follow the rules," Ingram said. "We're asking people to sit there six hours? We just can't ask people to do that."