By Irene Drage • Irene Drage • 

'Prettiest' car places out of the money again

The stands were packed, with people crowded three deep around the fences enclosing the arena. The crowd cheered as it waited for the action to begin.

The announcer led the crowd in cheering for the various cars, one by one. Under the rules, the car with the loudest cheering section would be dubbed the “prettiest.”

Car 420 won narrowly over car 3, but car 420’s driver, Roger Young, was none too happy about that.

He told the announcer he’d won prettiest car honors four times, but had no derby titles to show for it. And that didn’t change Saturday.

The first real competition of the evening was the Bump to Pass race. Drivers were allowed to pass only by spinning out the car in front of them.

By the end, the cars were covered in mud and dirt. The ones that were still running, that is.

Next was the Little Car Derby, reserved for smaller cars with smaller engines.

Drivers had their bumpers chained on, but that didn’t keep them from flying off when the impact was great enough. The crowd screamed encouragement as the cars slammed into each other.

Smoke billowed out from under several hoods. At one point, the action ground to a halt so a fire could be extinguised in car 867.

The final cars still moving were 7 (driven by Josh Wiebe) and 10 (driven by Loren Sullenger), and 10 held out longest. Sullenger took home $600 in prize money for him and his car, which the announcer figured had probably begun life as a Tempo.

Tow trucks then cleared the arena. A water truck was brought in to wet the surface and the concrete barriers were all restored to their original alignment. It was time for the main event.

More than one car had the rubber detach from one or more of his rims. One caught fire, resulting in a brief stoppage.

The final two cars were 444, driven by Jody Jenniches and 11x, driven by Mike McCowan.

Jenniches’ car lost one rear tire and car McCowan’s rig began spewing smoke. Both hung on gamely for a lengthy period, but McCowan eventually prevailed.

First place was good for $1,500, second for $1,000 — enough to make a decent downpayment on a body shop bill.

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