It was a family affair at the Chautauqua County Fair's Demolition Derby on Sunday evening. Ed Paluch of Dunkirk came out victorious in the large-car feature after a long battle. And not only did he win, but his wife, Kelli Paluch, was a winner as well.
Ed Paluch fought through the bashing and banging that the 16 participating large cars inflicted as he came out the winner over second-place finisher Steve Gromala of Dunkirk. Family and friends of Paluch rushed out to the track as he climbed out of his car with anxiousness. Everyone swarmed him with hugs and high fives.
"It feels great," Paluch said. "I've been working on this car since March. I have been doing this for 12 years. Imperials are much bigger and stronger cars, so they can hurt bad. The key was to keep moving."
Kelli Paluch of Dunkirk celebrates on top of her car as a winner in heat D Sunday night in the Demolition Derby at the Chautauqua County Fair. Kelli’s husband, Ed Paluch, was the night’s overall winner.
Photo by Jimmy McCarthy
Paluch said the key to winning was his two children, for they keep him going. As he came up to receive his trophy, he was met by his children and hugged them tight.
Paluch not only built a car for himself, he also built one for his wife, Kelli. She came out a winner in Heat D. Since she won the heat, she took part in the small car feature.
Benjamin Woods of Fredonia was the other winner in Heat D.
"I think I should buy a lottery ticket," Mrs. Paluch said. "I was very lucky I think, but overall it was good. I have never been in such a quick heat before, but I'll take it. I have to give my husband all the credit. He builds the cars and lets me ride in them."
As a victor of the large car feature, Paluch will head on to the demolition derby at the New York Sate Fair in Syracuse.
The small-car feature was comprised of 15 cars. The event came down to a duel between Bryan Gunsolus of Springville and David King of Cattaraugus. Neither driver gave up as they went until their cars stopped. Gunsolus came out the victor, while King finished second. First place received $600, while second place received $300.
Starting out the evening at the demo were several heats. Two winners were named for each heat bout. Winners received $250.
Fifteen cars went at each other during Heat A with three cars remaining toward the end. Winner of the heat was Paul Davis of Forestville, and second place was taken by Ken Harvey of East Otto, Pa.
Heat B was a long and entertaining bout as 36 cars participated; two heats took place in this event thanks to the large number. Action was halted numerous times for incidents including drivers losing their helmets, smoke and fires. Boos from the crowd were heard, and one woman from the crowd yelled to buckle up. The heat came down to three cars battling it out. Winners were Jason White of Fredonia and Keith Glowniak of Dunkirk. The other two winners were Matthew Hamm of Angola and Robert Harold Jr. of Bradford, Pa. Best in show was Pete Glowniak of Dunkirk. Heat C winners were Mark Yerico of Dunkirk and Thomas Schafer of Dunkirk.
For many drivers, numerous hours were spent constructing strong and sound cars. Winner of Heat B, and third-place finisher of the small-car feature, Matt Hamm, spent close to 80 hours on his.
Commenting on his win, Hamm said, "Basically preparation and using your head were important today."
Heat E saw large cars that could hit with a purpose. Winners of the heat were Fredonia natives Nick Whitfield and Dave Riddle.