Last night of Chautauqua County Fair features demo derby
A smashing good time
On the last night of the Chautauqua County Fair, the best of the best are in the demolition derby finals, from the most experienced drivers, to the next wave of up and comers.
The main event and final heat of the night, the Pro Stock Large, also featured the strangest occurence. Cory Near and Pat Ossman had their cars stuck back to back after a collision, and they remained stuck for most of the final half of the heat. Near said he was doing his best to get Ossman off him, but made the best of a bad situation.
“When I saw another coming his way, I let him have the gas,” Near said.
The two finally broke apart, and ended up finishing second and third, respectively, as it was Bill Huber who came away the winner. Huber said seeing the two cars stuck together is a bit of a misfortune.
“You don’t want to see two cars get stuck together coming up on you like that,” Huber said.
Once it came down to Huber and Near, they both had the same plan: get each other into the ditch. Both drivers lost steering, so they both knew their only option. It was Huber who was able to get him in the ditch and pin him down.
“Once he got me in the ditch, I knew it was over,” Near said.
The real victor of the night though was Ossman, who walked away with the Chad Ellman award, given to the one who delivered the hardest hits across both nights. Ossman was very emotional receiving the award named in memory of his friend Ellman.
“There are some days you still can’t believe he’s gone. I’ve won a lot of awards in my life doing this, but this one is the best,” Ossman said.
The evening revved up with the youth heat, who are accompanied by an adult, often a family member. This year’s youth heat winner, Devin Henderson, is no different.
“When it came down to it, I just listened to my uncle, he’s been doing it for years,” Henderson said.
With Henderson’s uncle accompanying him and providing guidance, Henderson was able to take a victory in what was a competitive heat with the kids putting on a show.
It was a rather hard-hitting affair, as the boys and girls competing looked like they had been doing it for years, and some of them have been driving for that long.
“I’ve been driving since I was 5,” Henderson said. Henderson edged out Alex Paluch and Riley Diate on his way to victory.
The intensity for the second heat was amped up so much, the track had to be extended. 21 cars fought and battled for this heat’s prize money. The race featured several stoppages, as several of the cars caught fire.
The finish was a little cramped, as the wreckage of 21 vehicles clogged up the middle of the track, making it difficult for Craig Bedell, John Nickerson Jr., and Mark Nickerson to line up the finishing blow. Contrary to what we saw Tuesday night, the family ties were interrupted, as it was Bedell who came out victorious amongst the debris.
Bedell was in control for most of the heat, as his car was relatively untouched for a good majority of the event. In fact, Bedell’s worst collision was self-inflicted.
“I need to be smarter than that but we got away with it,” Bedell said.
Bedell attempted to line up a finishing blow, but instead lined it up just short and collided with the wall, knocking out Bedell’s steering for the rest of the match. But to Bedell’s credit, he made it work.
“I’ve been doing this long enough to know that you don’t take shots like I did at the end there that knocked out my own steering, but I made it work,” Bedell said.
The third heat, the Wire Full Size, saw a repeater victor from Tuesday night, as Wayne Clemens walked away victorious for yet another night. Clemens, a long time demo vet, earned another feather in his cap with Sunday night’s win.
The big difference between Clemens’s victory Sunday night and his victory last Tuesday was the track condition, which Clemens acknowledged.
“It was a lot less muddy, which means a lot harder hitting,” Clemens said.
Harder hitting it was indeed, as the heat got off to a roaring start, with several hard hits right off the bat. In the end, it came down to Clemens and Chris Michalak in a back and forth, in what was several minutes of each of them trying to line up the last shot. When it came down to the wire, it was Clemens’s experience that pushed him over the edge.
“I put it into motion on the first hit, then came back, new where he was going to be, and put the kill shot on,” Clemens said.
It’s that hit that gave Clemens his second straight heat victory, with Nick Wise finishing third.
The fourth heat, the Pro Stock Compact, of the evening saw David King walk away victorious in another large heat of over 20 cars. In heats that large, King said it’s important to pick your spots.
“You have to wait it out at the beginning, you don’t want to get your car roughed up to early, but at the end, you just have to pick your spots,” King said.
King and Devin Henderson, different from the youth competitor, were all over each other with minor head to head collisions, and in the end, King built up enough momentum to finally smash in Henderson’s front end and chance of winning. Craig Bedell, trying to win two heats on the night, finished in a respectable third place, capping a successful night for him.
The Mad Dog winners for hardest hit given were Anthony Leone, Rick Beckwith, and Cory Near.