The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Smashing cars with no insurance issues
By Liana Bayne
Most people don’t crash their cars on purpose.
But some people are so good at crashing their cars they can win $1,000 for it.
That’s what happened to Mike Murray of King George County and Brad Faulk, who lives near Rhoadesville in Orange County, the winners of the two divisions in Wednesday night’s demolition derby at the Fredericksburg Agricultural Fair.
Murray’s 1999 Grand Caravan went up against three other minivans, while Faulk’s 2001 Chevy Lumina duked it out against five other four- and six-cylinder cars.
“It just gets your blood going,” Faulk said.
The basic rules of a demolition derby are simple: Protect the front of your car and ram everyone with the back of your car. Be the last one whose car can move, and you win.
The two matches of the derby went by quickly—the whole thing was over in about 45 minutes—but it’s worth it to the drivers.
Mutsy Fitzgerald of Spotsylvania County participated in the derby, along with his brothers Michael Fitzgerald of Spotsylvania and Stephen Mullins of Stafford County.
“I love smashin’ ’em up,” he said. “It’s a lot of excitement.”
Ronny Ipson of Ashland did the same with his Dodge Caravan for the minivan class.
He and his “pit crew,” Robyn and David Hancock, were spray painting the van, for which Ipson paid his grandmother $250, with neon orange numbers just before the derby started.
The green van, which had once ferried his grandma to the store and church, got smashed pretty hard during the derby. Ipson came in second, which brought him a $200 prize.
Ipson said he won has before at the State Fair and at a derby in Maryland. This was his first time participating with a minivan.
“It’s the cheapest redneck sport out there,” he said.
He explained that many derby participants strip their cars down for the derby, then put the insides back afterward and are usually able to sell the smashed cars to a junkyard for $200 to $300. Since most of them pay in that range for their cars, there’s a negligible monetary loss.
Ipson, who said he spent about 40 hours getting his van ready, said the derby is “a great frustration-killer.”
There was a little frustration last night over the rules of play. There is a set of written rules, but those were being ignored—unless someone complained. In the rules, it says no Volvos, so Ipson wasn’t able to compete with a Volvo in the car division last night because someone complained.
Faulk also might have been blocked from participating because his car had no hood (which is not allowed, according to the rules), but nobody complained until after the derby was over, at which point it was too late. Faulk was still the winner.
John Cooper of Fredericksburg, who owns Cooper’s Towing and Recovery, participated in the derby and helped organize it.
He said it’s not a derby without a little controversy, but he said the drivers were good sports.
“Everybody had a good time, and that’s what it’s about,” Cooper said.
Spectators, like the Moyes family of Stafford, definitely had a good time. Thomas Moyes Jr. said he loves cars.
“I like it when they bump into each other,” the youngster said.
He cheered for his favorite car, as did other children in the crowd.
And the drivers had as good a time as the spectators.
“It’s insanely fun to see a car coming at you and slam on the gas instead of the brake,” Murray, of King George, said. “I’ve wanted to do this since I was a kid.”
This was his first win after participating in various derbies for about 10 years. He paid $150 for his van, which he got from his brother, a car wholesale dealer in Maryland.
This was Faulk’s fifth win, though he’s only 21 years old. He races with a team of his neighbors all around Virginia and Maryland and sometimes as far away as Ohio.
“I’m about to go get me some crabs and shrimp for dinner,” he said. Then he’ll share part of his $1,000 with his teammates.
“I had a blast,” Murray said.
If you missed Wednesday night’s derby, another one is scheduled for Friday at 7 p.m.
Three classes will run: regular V8s, modified V8s and V8s owned by towing companies. Cooper said the latter category is designed to let area companies release some semi-friendly aggression on one another.
Liana Bayne: 540/374-5444