Local drivers survive derby at fair
The demolition derby at this year's Leavenworth County Fair had a substantial share of destruction Saturday night, and when the last car was still functional, a face in the crowd almost won the derby.
Chriz Blauvelt, Tonganoxie, challenged anyone in the rodeo arena crowd to drive his car. Blauvelt's car was No. 71 and anyone with a 1971 quarter could race. After signing a waiver, Jim Hansen, Leavenworth, got behind the wheel and took third in the feature race. It was Hansen's first race ever.
Tonganoxie's Mike Breshears was in the last car still moving, and he won the derby. Lloyd Yonts, Leavenworth, took second. Chuck McDaniel of Tonganoxie placed fourth.
Breshears, who will next compete at McLouth on Aug. 26, has been competing in derbies for 20 years and Saturday's win was his second overall.
"It went great for me," Breshears said.
Breshears had to repair his front bumper after the feature race. A truck from Kaw Valley Sand and Gravel was on hand and the bumper was welded back on.
The derby had four heats with the top three in each advancing to the feature race. The largest race involved a consolation bracket of sorts. Cars not advancing in the top three had a chance for redemption.
Roughly 20 cars competed in the consolation race and the top three in that competition moved into the feature race as well.
The Leavenworth County IPRA Rodeo had large crowds the two previous nights, but the derby drew even more. The grandstand and bleachers on the arena's south side were virtually full. Bleachers were also positioned on the west side of the arena.
Some cars also caught on fire, but the Tonganoxie Fire Department controlled all of them.
The large crowds and the occasional fires are just part of the derby for Barney Farr of Leavenworth, the derby's promoter for roughly 10 years.
"It's pretty much the normal thing," Farr said.