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Derby day

STEVE LEWIS/Durango Herald

“It’s just addictingly fun,” said Durangoan Keith Martin, who won the consolation round at the 15th annual La Plata County Fair Demolition Derby.

By Jordyn Dahl Herald staff writer

By all accounts, it was a good day for Ted Neergaard on Saturday after he won not one, but two races, at the 15th annual La Plata County Fair Demolition Derby.

“To actually win, it feels good,” Neergaard said. “To win twice in one day is a little bizarre.”

The derby introduced a round for trucks this year. Neergaard’s came out on top, and apparently in one piece. He said he’ll probably drive the ’73 Chevy in next year’s truck competition.

The Mancos resident has participated in the derby for all 15 years, but this is the first time he earned the title of champion.

His prize was sweeter than a title, though. Neergaard walked away with $1,715 in prize money plus two trophies.

Fans packed the bleachers surrounding the fairgrounds arena cheering on drivers as dirt and car bumpers went flying. When the dust settled, most cars looked more like mangled steel than automobiles.

The crowd that shows up to the derby every year is different than the typical fair group, said Lynn Dobbins, who has organized the event for 13 years.

“Maybe it’s the road rage,” she said with a laugh when describing why the event is so popular.

While the drivers were predominantly men, a few women competed, and one was among the final three drivers. Jessica Radojits took third place and $510 in prize money.

Last year’s winner, Ralph Brawley, made to the finals, but was knocked out of the competition early in the round.

Bobby Harmon received the honor of being named the most aggressive driver. Ryan Lee’s purple Dodge Coronet was named the prettiest car, though it’s debatable how pretty it was after its last hurrah in the finals.

During most rounds, the muddy field became an obstacle course for drivers. Cars that either stopped functioning or were knocked out of the competition remained at a standstill for the remaining drivers to dodge.

The derby may be punishing on the cars, but the drivers seemed to enjoy it. And Neergaard can’t wait to defend his titles next year.


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