Demolition Derby

Placers

• 1st place — Lucas Smith

• 2nd place — Clark Nuss

• 3rd place — Brian Strom

• 4th place — Charles Snacker

Best in Show — Brian Strom

Tuff Trucks

Placers

• 1st place — Josh Ritter

• 2nd place — Travis Colby

• 3rd place — Tyler Bethkey

Best in Show — Chris Beck

The tuff trucks and demolition derby drew one of the largest crowds in recent memory to Tri Counties Bank Area and the action on the track didn’t disappoint.

A total of 33 tuff trucks and eight demolition derby cars came out to compete for trophies and prize money in a wild competition that included lots of wrecks, flying car parts, a shattered fence and a couple small fires.

“The turnout, from both the drivers and the crowd, was just amazing,” said organizer Tristan Smith. “We wanted to make it bigger than it has been before and we did that — the stands were packed. When we went out there to throw shirts to the crowd I could barely walk though there because there were so many people standing, and the stands were packed. We wanted to make the course bigger this year to change it up and to get everyone excited. We had a lot of rollovers and everybody loves that. Everyone put on a good show.”

Although the tuff trucks and demolition derby are a Del Norte County Fair tradition, Tristan Smith and his brother Tressen, who organize the event together, made a few changes to the tuff trucks course this year.

The new course was roughly twice as long and featured a little bit more straightaway for drivers to pick up speed.

“We just wanted to switch it up because it has been the same thing for the last 15 to 20 years,” Tressen said.

“As long at I can remember it has been the same horseshoe,” Tristan chimed in. “This is more of a technical course because you have left-hand corners and right-hand corners. We also have a lot of flat track in there, which is fun. That is where you get the good shows with the rollovers and stuff like that. That is what the crowd wants to see.”

When the dust finally settled on the tuff truck competition, Josh Ritter had the fastest combined time, taking first place in the event.

“I’m pretty excited. It has been a long time since I have raced. All of my friends — older and younger are here,” Ritter said. “I just came to be a crowd pleaser. Just being a part of the tuff trucks is what I came for. It’s a lot of fun. I wasn’t expecting to win it at all. I just came out to throw it over some jumps.”

Ritter came out of the gates fast, launching his hatchback into the air on the very first jump. When he hit the ground, however, he lost a tire he had strapped to the back for extra weight, as well as a couple bumpers and other extraneous parts.

“I had a failure on my four-hooks on my ratchet straps — I didn’t plan on that,” Ritter said. “I needed that extra weight for the second run, but I just left it out.”

Although Ritter said he entered the race to try to put on a show, after everyone completed their first run he found himself in second place. So Ritter modified his strategy a little bit for the second round.

“I thought I had a chance maybe, so I didn’t go as big in the second round,” Ritter said. “I wanted to run it a little bit smoother and maybe finish the race.”

Although it wasn’t Ritter’s first tuff truck race, he said it was his first time competing at Tri Counties Bank Arena.

“I have been building tuff trucks for many years,” Ritter said. “I have raced in Cave Junction but never in my hometown, so this was fun. There are many more to come.”

Lucas Smith has driven tuff trucks at the fair in the past, but this was his first year competing in the demolition derby. Driving a car with a cardboard dinosaur head on the roof, Smith doled out more punishment than any other driver to win the main event.

“I’m pretty stoked. My brother has been doing this for the last eight years and he moved away, so this was my year,” Smith said. “He has never won first, so he is going to be pissed.”

Although Smith eventually won the derby, he got off to a bit of a shaky start. A big hit from one of his competitors at the beginning of the derby knocked Smith’s motor loose and his car was billowing smoke throughout the rest of the competition.

“It knocked the motor loose. The whole motor wasn’t connected to anything — I was just going,” Smith said. “I was flooring it, I just wanted to put people out. The motor was loose, but it did the job.”

Although pleased with the turnout of both drivers and fans, Tristan and Tressen Smith said they were hoping for more entries into the demolition derby.

“I think it went really well. I wish there were a few more demo cars though,” Tristan said. “Hopefully everybody will see that there weren’t that many this year and they will bring more out next year. The purse is pretty good sized and the fair manager is willing to up the value if we get more cars next year. We are trying to get as many big cars and small cars as we can get.”

There is one more tuff truck competition scheduled at the fairgrounds this year, which will be held as part of the monster truck show coming in September. Tristan and Tressen said they are planning on putting together more mud bogs, tuff trucks and maybe some motorbike events at the fairgrounds starting next spring.

“If we can get the sponsors, that is our main thing,” Tressen Smith said. “We need the help. We can’t do it without sponsors.”

Anyone interested in helping sponsor motorsport events at the Del Norte County Fairgrounds is invited to call the fairgrounds office at 707-464-9556.

Reach Michael Zogg at mzogg@triplicate.com .

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