DUNKIRK?- With a chance to reach the state championship up for grabs, 14 cars took part in the large car feature Sunday evening in the Budweiser Grandstand at the Chautauqua County Fairgrounds. After a series of huge hits, three cars remained.
Johnny Krupa and Corey Near of Dunkirk, along with Jarod Talbot of Salamanca, delivered blow after blow. Talbot tried hard to keep his car going despite a destroyed back end, but he had to quit after both rear tires blew out. Once Krupa could not get his car going for another round, Near became the victor. Near jumped out of his car as friends, family and fellow drivers came to congratulate him.
Near said he has worked on producing a solid car and taking part in the demolition derby for 10 years. After six months of work on this year's car, he won for the first time. Commenting on the victory, he said there's a little strategy involved in order to succeed.
Corey Near is presented the championship trophy by Larry and Pat Haase after winning the large car demolition derby feature at the Chautauqua County Fair in Dunkirk Sunday.
Photo by Jimmy McCarthy
Cars smash and bash during the fifth heat at the Budweiser Grandstand.
Photo by Jimmy McCarthy
"You have to hit the tires and know exactly where to hit them," Near said. "And you also have to try and pop the radiator to disable and weaken the car."
Near said that he's going to save the car and work on it to bring it back to next year's demolition derby.
Near will be heading to the Great New York State Far in Syracuse to compete for the state championship Sept. 3 at 4 p.m. to end the fair. He will take a new car to the event.
Fourteen cars smashed and crashed in the small feature final. But before the start, three cars did not want to start and had to exit from the competition. The feature saw cars flying from one end to another, bringing some big hits and cheers to the packed crowd. The final two cars, Brian Gonzalos of Springville and Don Scharf of Westfield, remained. Gonzalos came out on top once Scarf could not move.
In the first heat, first-time driver Kelly Dougherty of Fredonia beat out 18 other drivers in the win. Dougherty felt great after the win.
"I just went out there and hit other cars as hard as I could," Dougherty said.
In the fourth heat, 11 large cars entered for a chance to reach the feature. Wayne Clemens of Fredonia went out, competed and won with a heavy heart. His father, Dennis Sr., died last year.
"It's not the same thing without him," Clemens said. "I'm doing this for him."
This is Clemens' 30th year building cars and competing in the derby, and he mentioned that he had no aches or pains. He spent six months working on his car, and his work showed as his car zoomed around the track nailing cars. Angelo Guzzett of Farnham came in second.
John Robinson of Stockton became the victor in the fifth heat with Keven Sealy of Jamestown placing second. Robinson donated the earnings from the heat to Brennen Maddux and Team Brennen. The 5-year-old from Brocton was diagnosed with progeria, a rare disease of accelerated aging in children.
In the second heat, 38 small cars were slated to compete. Since there was a large field of cars competing, the heat was split in half with 20 cars participating in the first half and 18 in the other half. Robert and Jade Frank of Fredonia finished first and second, respectively, in the first part of the heat. David King of Cattaraugus finished first in the second part with Chuck Dillenburg of Sheridan placing second.
King pumped up the crowd during the last stages of the heat as he backed his van into the few cars remaining. King's van was the only one in the heat.
"I chose the van because I could demo it here," King said.
Before the crashing and bashing commenced, the best paint job contest between 10 cars was voted on by the audience. Winner of the contest was Keith Martell of Dunkirk.