PrattTribune - Pratt, KS
  • Rowland 3-peats at Demo Derby

  • Ben Rowland of Pratt once again was last man standing, completing the three-peat— as Rowland has now won the Pratt County Demolition Derby the past three years running.
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  • One of the most popular events at the Pratt County Fair is usually the Demolition Derby, and this year was no exception. What might have been one of the larger crowds in recent memory was treated to a surprisingly temperate evening, just perfect for watching motor sports mayhem unfold before their eyes in the Lower Arena.
    Ben Rowland of Pratt once again was last man standing, completing the three-peat— as Rowland has now won the Pratt County Demolition Derby the past three years running.
    “It feels really good to win again,” Rowland said afterwards. When asked if has gotten to the point where he simply expects to win because he has done it so frequently recently, Rowland replied, “No, it isn’t like that. Of course, I’m not going out there expecting to lose, either. I will say I enjoy being in the money!”
    There were about twenty cars entered this year in the event organized and emceed by veteran derby promoter Troy Swonger. There were three preliminary heats of 6-7 cars each. The top three cars in each heat automatically advanced to the finals. There was a consolation heat for drivers knocked out in the prelims for those who could get their cars moving again. The top three cars from the consolation heat went to the finals as well.
    Winners in the preliminary and consolation heats:
    Heat 1
    Shane Doman, Medicine Lodge
    Steve Hart, Pratt
    Blake Randals, Medicine Lodge
    Mitchell Baird, Pratt
    Heat 2
    Brandon Zimmerman, Pratt
    Evan Hance, Pratt
    Robert Partin, Pratt
    Heat 3
    Ben Rowland, Pratt
    Justin Bailey, Isabel
    Colt Catlin, Medicine Lodge
    Shane Campbell, Pratt
    BJ Hayse, Pratt
    Steve Catlin, Medicine Lodge
    Between heats, as the tractors were hauling the wrecks out of the derby arena back to the pits, a 3-legged race for 10-12 year olds was held to help keep the crowd entertained. A number of heats were held, and the winners faced off in the finals.
    Something like a hundred contestants tied legs together and sprinted for the finish line, hopefully without getting entangled with each other or another team. Emerging victorious after several heats were Payton Wells and Iziah Cook. Dyllan Lunsford and Matthew Shanline were runners-up, and Russell WIlkey and Braden Rains took third.
    The sun was setting as the cars lined up for the final melee. There was quite the spirited give-and-take as the cars and drivers tried to bash one another into submission. One especially effective tactic was for a car to shove a rival up onto the barrier berm that surrounds the arena— high-centering it to put it out of action even if it is not totally disabled.
    Page 2 of 2 - Ben Rowland dispatched a couple of opponents in this fashion during the final heat. “Pushing the other guy’s car instead of smashing it saves your car. You don’t have a violent impact, so you can take out another guy without hurting your car,” Rowland explained. “I’ve got enough engine in my car that I can push another car around, so that’s why I’ll do that sometimes.”
    Partin, Hart, Zimmerman and Rowland were the final four ambulatory autos in the final heat. Eventually, all cars but Rowland’s were flaming, smoking or dead-in-their-tracks. The crowd cheered loudly as Rowland emerged from his car to accept the congratulations of his fellow competitors upon his victory.
    The final order of finish for the winners of the 2014 Pratt County Demolition Derby were as follows:
    Championship heat
    1. Ben Rowland
    2. Brandon Zimmerman
    3. Steve Hart
    4. Robert Partin
    5. Justin Bailey
    6. Blake Randals
    7. Mitchell Baird
    8. Evan Hance
    9. BJ Hayse
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