The Midwest Championship Demolition Derby gave new meaning to the phrase “where the rubber meets the road.”
At the end of the championship Saturday night, three of the four vehicles still running had lost a tire or two.
In the end, Warren Funk of Colorado managed to get his car in reverse to win the championship held at the Grandstand in Eisenhower Park.
Thirty of the best drivers in the Midwest who qualified for the championship entered the championship. After two heats three, Abilene drivers were in the arena. Brenden Alvarez placed fourth, Winston Elliott placed sixth and Levi Markley went out in 15th place.
The field was narrowed to three when Alvarez couldn’t get his white vehicle moving.
Justin Montgomery, Funk and Arden Jennings battled for the longest time, each losing rubber and having steering problems.
“When it gets down this far, we can’t maneuver as well,” said Montgomery, second place finisher and defending champion. “We try to stay close to each other so if we can’t steer right, we can still maybe make a hit. If we go down to the other end of the arena we could get stuck down there and not be able to make a hit.
“You have to keep moving,” he said of driving without a rear tire. “If you get the one spinning, you’ll get stuck.”
Suddenly, after about an hour and car banging, all three came together, and the action stalled.
Funk, who qualified at the Hays Demo Derby, started moving and was declared the winner.
“My shifter is all bent and I couldn’t get into reverse,” Funk said after the event. “I was trying to find some gears and luckily I got them in.”
It was Funk’s first Midwest Championship. His brother Derick placed second in last year’s Midwest Championship final after running out of fuel.
“It was a long, hard-hitting show.” he said. “There was a lot of strategy, where to take shots.”
“This is the first championship I’ve been to. It is a lot harder and a lot longer,” he added.
Montgomery said he hopes to return next year.
“We have a good pit crew. They get the car back together,” he said after the first heat. His strategy for the final? “Just drive smart. You pretty much don’t want to hurt your car but you want to hurt everyone else’s.”
He also commented on the competition.
“Some Nebraska guys came down and some Missouri guys. This was a really tough show,” He said.
Friday’s event, which included compact figure 8 cars, a clean up heat, stocks, trucks and lawn mowers was postponed because of rain an snow. That event was moved to Sunday afternoon.
1 Warren Funk; 2 Justin Montgomery; 3 Arden Jennings; 4 Brenden Alvarez; 5 Jory Friesen; 6 Tyic Miller; 7 Winston Elliott; 8 Shane Rippen; 9 Mike Stalder; 10 Keaton Frewen; 11 Jim Wagner; 12 Rick Askins; 13 Chris Bender; 14 Dallas Bailey; 15 Levi Markley; 16 Jay Fuller; 17 Leon Pearson; 18 Luke Lang;
1 Matt Martin; 2 Deric Funk; 3 Lance Diepenbrock; 4 Weston Mizel; 5 Derrick Swearingen