The Midwest’s best demolition derby drivers will be in Abilene this weekend.
All total, 133 drivers from four different states qualified for the Midwest Demolition Derby Championship that will be held Saturday night.
Four drivers— Levi Markley, Brenden Alvarez, Mike Hamilton, Winston Elliott—will represent Abilene.
Elliott is returning to the car gladiator arena after placing eighth a year ago.
“The championship is definitely a lot harder,” Elliott said of the Midwest championship, which is being held for the second year at the Grandstand in Eisenhower Park. “You have the best of the surrounding states bringing all their best stuff and lots of better drivers than your regular fair shows.
“They are obviously people that won one of the fair shows, or placed, so they have done well to get here,” he said.
Elliott competes in four or five county fair derbies a year around Kansas.
“This year we laid off a little bit because we ran the team show,” he said.
Elliott placed second to Chad Markley at Abilene to qualify for the championship.
Although qualifying, Chad Markley is not entering the event as he is running the show for the Championship Demolition Derby Association.
Demo drivers must qualify for the CDDA by placing at an approved demolition derby and the entry fee is paid by the sponsoring derby organizations.
The event is being held Friday and Saturday. Friday’s competition starts at 7 p.m. and will include Compact Figure 8, Clean-Up Heat, Stock, Trucks and Lawn Mowers.
Saturday’s event will start at 5 p.m. and include Compacts, Clean-Up Heat, Stock and the Championship Derby.
Chad Markley said that he expects 60 derby cars total, 30 of the 133 drivers which qualified for the championship are expected to enter Saturday’s derby.
He said rain slowed the track down a year ago and he expects the show to end around 10 p.m. Saturday.
“I don’t foresee the feature going over an hour long,” he said.
Levi Markley, who qualified by placing at Abilene and Herington, said the keys to driving a derby car are “a lot of car and a lot of patience.
“You’ll have to be able to pick the right shots; the right shots at the right time,” he said.
Markley said he runs three or four derbies a year.
“I run around here. I haven’t really gone outside. The furthest I’ve done is Hutchinson,” he said.
Because there will be at least 15 cars in a heat, Markley said watching the action becomes important.
“You have to see where a car weakens up and when you take a shot, you make it count,” he said. “You don’t want to waste a shot with your car.”
When it comes to a good car and lots of patience, Levi Markley and Elliott both said last year’s winner Justin “Chicken” Montgomery is among the best in the Midwest.
“He’s got a lot of car. He’s probably one of the best demolition builders around this area,” Levi Markley said. “He’s extremely patient and he makes his shot count. He’s really good at making the right decisions. I’ve seen the way they build their cars. They build 100 percent to the max of what you are allowed to do. They do not cut any ends.”
Markley said Montgomery is also a good driver.
“Chicken has a lot of wheel time too. He’s run a lot of derbies.”
Elliott said last year’s runner-up Derik Funk will be a driver to watch if he comes to Abilene from Russell.
“He ran second last year to Chicken because he ran out of fuel,” Elliott said. “Yeah, if Funk shows up he will be a real good choice. I think he’s won twice this year, Sylvan Grove and Oakley. He also ran a team show in Cimarron and they ran second down there.”