By GAIL PARSONS
After a three-year hiatus Chad Markley returned to the demo derby at the Central Kansas Free Fair in Abilene Tuesday night to show spectators what a demolition derby is supposed to be like.
“I just came to have fun tonight and I accidently won,” he said after leaving six competitors in the featured event stranded in the arena. “Maybe a little more luck than accident.”
As the feature event wrapped up, Chad helped maroon his nephew Levi Markley on the dirt mound that surrounds the arena. He then wasted no time going after Winston Elliott, who moments earlier tried to slam Levi off the dirt, and who gave a valiant fight before also scaling another dirt pile on the opposite side of the arena, which ended his quest for the title.
Ironically Levi and Elliott were Chad’s teammates in the team derby on Sunday.
After a few victory spins, Chad exited his rather beat up car to handshakes and congratulations from his opponents.
“The guys did a good job, that’s the kind of hard-hitting feature I like to see,” Regina McDermith, owner of Grandstand Attractions said after the derby. “It’s nice to see that friends (and family) can get out there and hit each other.”
This year’s competitors meant business Tuesday night; there was no playing pat-a-cake, which can quickly turn a demolition derby into a yawn fest. From the first flag wave to the last car moving the derby was hard hitting metal on metal in every heat. Compact cars hobbled, or were carried off more compact than when they entered; pieces of metal were ripped off vehicles, and twice action had to be stopped to remove potentially dangerous bumpers that had come loose.
As the drivers prepared before the first heat, no one seemed concerned about impending storms that, on Sunday, had soaked the pit area causing some concern.
“The fair board worked with us and got ‘er done,” McDermith said.
The drivers – their only concern was getting onto the track, if anything, a little rain might have been welcome as it would have taken the edge off the heat and humidity.
“I wish it would start raining,” said driver Derrick Dvorak. “I can drive in the rain and it might make it a little cooler.”
Bobby Brock also said that driving in the rain would be fine with him, although some drivers with front-wheel drive might have a little more difficulty. Rain or no rain, his strategy was pretty simple “just last longer than everyone else.”
While that was the ultimate goal for all of the drivers, they also planned to “just get out there and hit hard,” Nick Clark said.
When it was all said and done, lightening flashed far on the western horizon as cars were loaded onto flatbeds to be hauled off and readied for the next show.