They came to see metal crunch and hear engines roar.
Hundreds packed the Douglas County 4-H Fairgrounds' rodeo arena Friday evening for one of the fair's highlighted events: the Demolition Derby.
Howard Clark, of Lawrence, stood outside the arena just before the derby's car-crashing action began. He and his son, Tyree, peered through the chain-link fence and expected to see one thing.
"A lot of good, hard hitting," Clark said. "No light tapping."
He played the role of fan Friday and cheered on a couple of his friends who competed. Clark has driven a car in the derby before, but he gave it up, for now, partially because of the cost, he said.
"It's a big rush," he said.
Friday's competition ran in four heats of between 10 to 13 cars, as drivers saddled into beat-up cars whose primes barely glimmered in their rear-view mirrors. By regulation, only the driver's seats remain while a special fuel tank sits behind the driver with a shield in between.
Volunteer firefighters keep close watch. If a car catches fire twice in one heat, it is disqualified.
The object is to be the sole survivor with a wooden stick still attached to the driver's side door. This requires hitting other cars while keeping your car from getting hit.
But, as indicated by the crowd noise Friday as one car smashed into another, fans and drivers tend to remember the crashes most.
"I just want to hit somebody really hard first," said Billy Lown, 20, of Lawrence, just minutes before his first derby action.
Lown was lured to driving because his grandfather, Ken Mooney, is a 25-year veteran.
"My car's nothing special," Lown said of his black 1985 Pontiac.
Then he pointed to his engine with tubes that protruded through the hood.
"I've got chrome tips, though," he said.
Just in front of the rookie's car, veteran driver Tim Gonce sat on top of his blue 1979 Ford LTD Mercury. He said he's tried to retire from the derby several times.
"I can't. Every time I try, somebody brings me a car and I fix it up. Then, here I am," he said.
As Gonce watched the first heat of the evening, the crowd roared about three minutes after the green flag was waved as one driver revved his engine, sped across the muddy surface and smashed a competitor into elimination.
"That was a good one," said one fan to another.
Douglas County Fair - 2005
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- 6News video: Award ceremony recognizes 4-H'ers (08-07-05)
- Livestock auction closes Douglas County Fair (08-08-05)
- Fiery tractor pull heats up county fair (08-07-05)
- Derby delivers demolition aplenty (08-06-05)
- 6News video: Demolition derby a hit at fair (08-05-05)
- Tractors pull in fair crowd (08-05-05)
- 6News video: People still care about the fair (08-04-05)
- Exotic animals strutting their stuff at Douglas County Fair (08-04-05)
- Incarcerated boys hope their garden will yield ribbons (08-03-05)
- Fair play (08-03-05)
- 6News video: Fair festivities continue (08-02-05)
- 6News video: Douglas County Fair gets into full swing (08-01-05)
- Horses draw big crowd at Douglas County Fair (08-01-05)
- 6News video: Riders dazzle crowd at 4-H horse show (07-31-05)
- On the Street: What is your favorite thing about the county fair? (07-31-05)
- Festivities saddle up (07-31-05)
- Back from her tour in Afghanistan, reservist ready to horse around again (07-31-05)
- Douglas County Fair to kick off this weekend (07-29-05)
- Sparks fly for derby drivers (07-25-05)
- Pets steal spotlight at early events (07-24-05)
- 6News video: Pet show kicks off Douglas County Fair (07-24-05)
- County fair contests get early start (07-23-05)
- Douglas County Fair Web site
- More stories on the Douglas County Fair »»
- Photo Gallery: Douglas County Fair 08-07-05
- Photo Gallery: Douglas County Fair 08-06-05
- Photo Gallery: Douglas County Fair 08-05-05
- Photo Gallery: Douglas County Fair 08-04-05
- Photo Gallery: Douglas County Fair 08-03-05
- Photo Gallery: Douglas County Fair 08-02-05
- Photo Gallery: Douglas County Fair: What the ribbons mean
- World Online Panorama: 4-H Horse Show
- Audio Slideshow: 4-H Horse Show
- Photo Gallery: 4-H Horse Show
- Photo Gallery: Douglas County Fair animal shows