By ERIC X. VICCARO
Gage Sumner is noted local demolition derby performer, competing at an event this past weekend in Illinois.
This week, Sumner transforms from driver to derby organizer as part of a weekend of motorsports activities taking place at the Ste. Genevieve County Fairgrounds.
“There’s a lot of excitement,” Sumner said. “It’s a highlight for the fans to see all the cars get smashed up.”
Sumner said he appreciates putting on the derby, which normally takes place during the county fair in July. This year the fair was called off, due to the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. Later, the Fair Board began working toward an attempt to salvage the tractor and truck pulls and the demo derby, the most popular and most profitable events at the fair, this fall.
Now there will be a truck pull on Oct. 2, followed by the demolition derby on Oct. 3 and a tractor pull on Oct. 4.
Demolition derbies consistently have been part of Americana, once showcased in the old sitcom “Happy Days,” in the two-part episode “Fonzie Loves Pinky.”
For the derby, pits will open at 10 a.m. with the gates at 3 p.m., power wheels at 5 p.m. and main competition at 6 p.m.
General admission is $10; however, kids between the ages of 5-11 will be charged only $5. Children four years old and younger are admitted free.
A representative from Hemi Motorsports will provide the power wheels, a contest geared toward youth.
“The power wheels are great,” Sumner said. “It gets the kids involved, and the parents are more likely to come. There are a lot of kids who will give it a shot.”
Children ages 4-9 years old are required to wear a helmet while competing. The top-four performers will receive a trophy.
The purse is grand, with $10,000 in cash on the line — with the super stock champion set to win $4,000 while tops in the mini-car division takes home $1,000. Cash prizes will be awarded all the way to fifth place. There also will be a $250 bonus for the highest-finishing non-Ste. Genevieve resident.
Maddog trophies also will be presented in each class to, as Sumner puts it, “the one who hits the most and puts on a good show.”
Super stock cars resemble what you might see while driving on a city street, a full-framed real-wheel drive vehicle. Mini-cars are front-wheel drive and have a shorter wheel base.
For more information on the demolition derby, call Gage Sumner at 573-883-0096.
Co-tractor pull event organizer Chris Sinn said he expects out-of-state contestants to participate in this year’s event.
“I’ve been getting calls from Kentucky, Indians, Illinois and Arkansas,” said Sinn, a Bloomsdale resident running the tractor pull along with Lisa Hatley.
Sinn said he’s looking forward to the “Run What You Brung” division the most.
“I hope were going to have a good turnout,” Sinn said. He performs in tractor pulls using a 1930s era Farmall.
There are a slew of divisions for tractor pull contestants, ranging from antique classes with tractors from 1959 and older to what’s called the “Out of the Field” open division.
Divisions are set with different weights and speed ranging from 4-8 mph.
Registration begins at 7 a.m. this Sunday, with the pull starting at 9 a.m. Prize money will be given to the top-three in each division. In the “Run What You Brung” division, the pay out is for first place only ($500).
For more information on the tractor pull, call Sinn at 573-979-2372.
The truck pull will take place at 7 p.m. Friday, with the gates opening two hours prior to the actual event.
Like tractor pulls, there will be various divisions based on weight as well as how the engine is powered — whether gas or diesel, and whether it’s stock or modified.
There also will be a series of back-to-back pulls with diesel versus diesel, gas versus gas and an open contest.