Warren fair hosts demolition derby

Melissa Merchant, right, takes a hit during the demolition derby Thursday night at the Warren County Fair. Rich Cooley/Daily

FRONT ROYAL – The Warren County Fair held its demolition derby on Wednesday night.

Starting with a burst from an air horn, eight cars smashed into one another until only one was left driving. The man standing left victorious while tow trucks, forklifts and bulldozers cleared out the wrecked junkers.

Dylan Lockwood, 17, came out to test his mettle at the derby behind the wheel of No. 146. Lockwood has competed in several derbies in the past. He said he only tries to keep his cool when the mayhem starts.

“I’m just trying to take it easy out there and not lose my head,” he said. “I don’t want to full out track-shot somebody.”

While plenty of veterans came out to battle, Michael Garrett, 31, decided to give the derby a try, just for kicks. He said he’s not scared, but he’s not totally sure of a battle strategy.

Melissa Merchant, 51, of Front Royal sits on the back of her pink Ford Focus derby car prior to the demolition derby event at the Warren County Fairgrounds Wednesday evening. This was Merchant's first demolition derby. Rich Cooley/Daily

“I don’t know how to go about it,” he said. “I’ll just do what everyone else does.”

Garrett couldn’t have been the only one lost for a warpath, as most of the heats were nothing short of vehicular entropy. All the cars started in park, hoods touching the metal girders walling off the derby ring. At the start, most throttled in reverse into an eight-way collision before peeling off in drive and circling around the track looking for metal to warp.

Supervising the event, local firefighters roamed the perimeter of the pit armed with bolt-cutters and extinguishers, ready to handle any of the inevitable dangers of real-life bumper cars.

Likewise, members of the Warren County Sheriff’s Department patrolled the fair, and needed to break up a spat in the pit area prior to the first heat.

Despite the danger involved, Michael Williams, 37, was ready to take his “Wild Woodpecker” No. 1409 out to cause some damage. Before the derby, he said he was a bit shaky, but it’d go away soon.

Josh Wilkins, of Strasburg, performs some last-minute diagnostic work before the derby starts Wednesday night at the Warren County Fairgrounds. Rich Cooley/Daily

“Yeah, I’m a little nervous,” he said. “But once you’re out there hitting, it all goes away.”

Looking at the rest of the week, there will be a truck and trailer pull at 6 p.m. Thursday, a lawn mower pull at 6 p.m. Friday, and monster truck events at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday. Tickets to the fair cost $10 per person.

Contact staff writer Jake Zuckerman at 540-465-5137 ext. 152, or jzuckerman@nvdaily.com

Michael Webb, 22, of Front Royal, leans on the Mustang he used for the demolition derby event. Rich Cooley/Daily

Derby cars collide during the first heat of compact cars Wednesday night at the Warren County Fairgrounds. Rich Cooley/Daily

Rusty Fox, 14, of Front Royal, stands inside the pit area of the demolition derby event Wednesday night at the Warren County Fairgrounds. Fox was a crew member helping out his brother for the event. Rich Cooley/Daily

Spectators stand on the hillside to watch the start of the compact cars perform at the demolition derby held Wednesday night at the Warren County Fairgrounds. Rich Cooley/Daily