As the cars made their way into the rodeo grounds a loud popping sound could be heard. It was the kick off to the evening, but unfortunately it was the end for Jeremiah Johnson before it even started. Johnson ended up pushing his car off the the ring.
Milk River Motorsports has been hosting the 80's & Up Demolition Derby for several years. As the events unfolded on Saturday, June 14, 25 volunteers worked for the nonprofit group that brings in family events, entertainment and business into the area. Several volunteer firefighters from the Long Run Fire Department also stood by in case of an emergency.
Johnson explained his transmission blew out before the crowd began to cheer as drivers faced each other in the arena. This was his third year coming to the Glasgow derby. He spent around $2,000 stripping and preparing his 1984 Delta 88 Oldsmobile. His brother, who also entered into the derby, helped him haul his car from Helena.
"I come for the environment, and it's a blast for the drivers, we get to hang out, have fun," Johnson said.
He explained that the hard work and effort put into a car that gets destroyed during the competition is all in good fun. His brother, RJ Johnson, added that he's been to Glasgow five or six time for the event and the crowd brings him back. RJ has never won, Jeremiah has once, but family and a chance to show off their work is worth it. This year Jeremiah took the hard luck trophy.
They search for abandoned cars and knock on doors when it comes time to prepare. Jeremiah said he probably spent two months prepping his vehicle for this event. He explained that it's a rush and sometimes injuries occur. He fractured a wrist before.
While the evening continued each round, called a heat, brought drivers into the arena for a chance to win some cash. The Valley County Fair commission puts $5,200 into the purse, but that money also assists for other expenses in the event. Driver's decide at their meeting how 5 percent will be split at the end, along with 50 percent of entry fees and pit pass money collected from the previous derby.
Finalists for the evening were Josh Bunk of Glasgow and Brad Olson of Glasgow from the first heat. Wyatt Pederson, of Glasgow, and Willy Lauckner, of Nahsua, from the second heat. Steve Reynolds, of Helena, and Scott Skoyen, of Chinook, from the third heat. Ryan Erickson, of Havre, and Garrett Powell from the fourth heat. Brian Jeannotte of St. Marie, and RJ Johnson, of Helena, were also finalists. They all took just over $100 home.
Erickson took first place adding over $2,800 for his winnings. Powell took second and took home over $1,200. Pederson won third with over $1,000 in winning, Skoyen came in fourth with $760 in winnings and fifth place went to Reynolds with $560 in winnings. Scott Hould took the mad dog trophy.
Milk River Motorsports will host their next event on August 5 at the Fair Demolition Derby.