Derby brings smashing fun to fair

HUGHESVILLE – Exhaust fumes and the sound of crunching metal filled the air Thursday night at the 143rd Lycoming County Fair as drivers from around the area came to see if they had what it took to participate in the demolition derby.

The spurts of rain and thunder may have scared off a few spectators as clouds threatened a storm leading up to the event but it wasn’t enough to stop the event.

“We’re a rain or shine event,” said Jay Milligan, organizer of the derby. “The drivers kind of like it with a little rain anyways.”

When it comes to demolition derby the name of the game is to just survive, no matter how ugly.

“It’s the last one able to move and make contact,” Milligan, said in explaining the rules.

But before these mechanical gladiators could enter the grandstand track area, a few needed to do some last-minute work on their cars.

Brandon Yohn, of Muncy, was one such driver. Yohn was participating in a demolition derby for the first time Thursday. He said he had a few “junk cars” sitting around and wanted to get rid of one.

But since he didn’t make a final decision to participate until about two hours before the event, he needed to do all he could just to make sure his car got to the starting position.

But once drivers get the 10-second countdown before the start of a heat, there’s no time to worry about nerves.

“It’s an adrenaline rush,” said Cory Sholder, of Williamsport, on the feeling of driving in such an event.

And once the first hit is out of the way, it’s all instincts.

“The first time you get hit, it wakes you up,” said Austin Adams, another Williamsport driver.

Milligan explained the sport as an adult version of bumper cars. He added that it’s like having a case of road rage, “but now you actually are able to smash into (the other driver).”

Milligan added that spectators enjoy the sport, which sees cars flip, spit up dirt and crunch each other.

“It’s like any other sport. It’s what people like to watch whether it’s running or smashing (vehicles),” he said.

But one thing was certain, not everyone has what it takes to get behind the wheel of a demolition derby car.

“It takes guts,” Sholder said.