XENIA — “Save the engine, and hit anything in sight!”
That was the driving strategy third-generation demolition driver Dustin Storer offered up moments before he competed in the Modified Division of Saturday’s demolition derby at the Greene County Fair.
Storer’s dad Scott, 38, ran in the derbies for 22 years as part of the “Xenia Bad Boys,” a group of a half dozen or more area drivers who would compete regularly in area demolition derbies. Dustin, now 24, has been racing since celebrating his 16th birthday by competing in a demolition derby event. Scott’s dad, Dave, sponsored several demolition derby drivers years before that.
“The guy who is the official judge here today, Paul Webb, my dad used to sponsor his cars. Then he started sponsoring me when I first started driving in these, and it’s just sort of gone on from there,” Scott Storer explained, while checking the engine of Dustin’s “Dumpster Car,” complete with a waving Mitchell Heating and Air Conditioning placard on its roof.
With the blaring sound of a megaphone weather siren, the Modified event was under way, with Dustin Storer and cousins Steve Wisecup and Shawn Grooms competing in the derby with Tony Jenkins and Melissa Highley. As Storer and the rest of the men canceled each other out one by one, Highley emerged as the winner.
Highley climbed through her car’s front window, stood on the hood, smiled and gave her family a thumbs up after the win. The Beavercreek mom was making a return to demolition derby competition after sitting out for four years.
“I’ve either been pregnant or just had a baby or something,” she said, while collecting her $1,000 first-prize money. “It’s nice to get back in and do this again. I keep bugging my husband, Toby, to let me get back into these, but he’s always building them for himself. I’ve won here a few years ago, my husband has won here, and my father-in-law, Randy, he’s won here too.
“I just stayed out of the way, until the very end. I knew one of the other drivers, and we kind of teamed up. But in the end, it was me against him,” Highley said.
Hamilton’s Donnie Rutherford squished Heath Hall’s bright-yellow compact down to about the size of a lemon to claim the compact division win. During the event, the passenger-side airbag of Jeremy Frank’s jalopy deployed, obscuring his view until it popped.
Brad Wagers, 35, of Oxford, then survived slightly longer than Don Long to win the Stock Division.
“In the last two weeks, I’ve won …. four events,” Wagers said with a smile. “You just have to go over the motor and check the car really well, because it always seems that it’s the little stuff that puts you out. The Greene County facility is one of the nicest ones around, and the people here are great. We all had a good time.”
As for Storer, his car made a dramatic exit from the Modified competition with a plume of flames and sparks. His engine began spewing flames through the headers, right at about the time that the drive train came apart underneath the car. He just smiled and gave a quick shrug as he shut the engine off and watched Highley eventually nab the win.
“I was one spot out of finishing in the money, but that’s okay. We had a lot of fun tonight.” he said.
Greene County Newspapers sports editor John Bombatch can be reached at 937-372-4444, Ext. 131, or by sending email to firstname.lastname@example.org.