In driver's education, students are typically encouraged not to intentionally collide with other moving vehicles.
At Saturday's Wayne Regional Agricultural Fair Demolition Derby, that lesson went right out the empty window, as dozens of drivers met to duke it out in a mud pit for cash and glory.
The drivers were split up into three categories -- four cylinder, six cylinder and eight cylinder vehicles. Ahead of the first four cylinder round, driver Tyler Strickland looked over his vehicle, number 515. The small black car was covered in pink tape and pink paint, with the phrase "It's a girl" on the top over the driver's side door.
"We fixed it up as a gender reveal, the whole family is here and they don't know the gender yet," he said. "Her name is going to be Harley Nicole Strickland."
Purposefully getting into an auto collision might not be the typical way an expecting father passes the time, but for Strickland it was just another thrill.
"This is my second year doing it," he said. "It's just fun. You've got to have fun somehow, right?"
Strickland represented Bennet Towing and Price Auto in the derby. Another Bennet driver was Cameron Jernigan, a Rosewood High School Junior who was competing in his first-ever derby.
Jernigan's car, like the others, was almost completely barren inside, with all of the interior stripped out besides the divers seat. This, he said, was to minimize the risk of having parts come loose inside the car, and to lighten the vehicle up a bit.
Despite knowing his way around the car, Jernigan was a bit apprehensive going in.
"I've got mixed emotions right now," he said with a grin. "I'm excited but also nervous."
Soon, the drivers lined up in the arena for the first round of 4 cylinder action. Strickland and Jernigan were both present, parked near each other and ready to go.
The announcer led the crowd in a count down from ten, and the drivers were off. The early moments were chaotic, as all ten drivers dashed around, slamming into one another with loud crashes.
Soon, they began to fall out of competition as their cars stopped responding, until the only two remaining were Jernigan and Snow Hill resident Alex Raycraft.
With Jernigan's rear tires bent out of alignment, Raycraft eventually managed to pin his car in a corner and incapacitate it, earning him the win.
Raycraft earned $400 for his victory, his first top prize in three events. He came in third the first time he competed, then second on his next outing. Despite having already won his round, he tried to use his prize money to buy in to the second 4 cylinder round, but was denied.
Raycraft said his car was still ready to go, and that the derby got less difficult as it went.
"The worst hit is always the first one, that's when everybody has their foot on the gas and is going full speed," he said. "After that it's just about trying to keep safe and avoid getting hit, and trying to have fun."
Jernigan said he was happy to have won second, place, good for $100. He held his trophy with a smile, and said he knew what he would be spending the prize money on.
"Probably gas," he said.