MEDINA — Dan Thomas had too much love for smashing up old cars alongside his buddies and too much pride to let an out-of-towner win the first ’80s-and-newer Medina County Fair Demolition Derby.
Best of all, the Medina resident wasn’t shy about admitting it.
“That was one of the things I said to my friends before I went out there: ‘We’ve got to keep it in the county,’” he said.
Thomas backed up the sentimental feelings of county drivers Monday as he outlasted New London’s Joe Hicks to take his fourth hometown title and second in three years.
Running a 1987 Mercury Grand Marquis sponsored by Brunswick-based All Care Automotive with a Chevrolet 350 small-block engine, Thomas was a key cog in an outstanding feature that eventually came down to four countians and three from outside the area.
Nova’s Nathan Owens, who is simply known as “Boy” in the pits, was unquestionably the crowd favorite with his hyper-aggressive style, but he bowed out shortly after defending champion Dan Orient lost his steering.
Thomas and Hicks then jostled for position until Thomas pinned Hicks into a three-vehicle pack of dead cars.
With Hicks trapped, Thomas disabled him with an innocent but effective tap to the left rear axle.
Thomas then backed up, revved the engine —bringing a loud roar from the near-capacity crowd — and finished the deal.
“I’ve watched these (out-of-towners) run and they’re tough,” said Thomas, who was flanked by his wife and former demo rival, Karen.
“It was a well-earned win, I’ll say that.”
While adjusting to his much lighter vehicle in the first heat, Thomas received a stalling warning from one of the four track officials. Thomas responded by roaring rear-first across the entire track into a pack of cars that ended up as one of the best hits of the night.
“If I see the hit, I go for it,” said Thomas, who researched how to build the unfamiliar rig on wecrash.com. “Honestly, I didn’t even notice the warning. It’s just that I keep moving around and try to make as many hits as I can.
“Oh, yeah, that felt good,” he added with a sheepish grin when asked about his signature moment. “I love doing that and it was a friend (Matt Papcum) that I hit.”
Thanks to the big blow that knocked out two of the three opponents, Thomas, who sported an impressive-looking “Family Guy” paint scheme, advanced to the full-size feature, where he had to put up with stiff competition that made for one of the most entertaining finals in recent memory.
To top it off, the long-haired veteran outlasted a wider variety of foes for the first time in his career.
“It still feels good,” he said. “I won by beating out-of-town guys, so it was great. My friends run tough and everyone else runs tough. It feels great to win.”
In sub-compact action, Medina’s Leah Hall outlasted Brunswick’s Adam Rundle in a long-winded battle for the crown, while Medina resident and former feature winner Brian “Mad Max” Maxwell won best of show with an Ohio State Buckeyes theme.
1. Dan Thomas (Medina)
2. Joe Hicks (New London)
3. Nathan Owens (Nova)
1. Leah Hall (Medina)
2. Adam Rundle (Brunswick)
Best of Show
1. Brian Maxwell (Medina)
2. Bonnie Haury (Medina)
Full-Size Heat 1
Dan Orient (Medina)
Bonnie Haury (Medina)
Joe Hicks (New London)
Full-Size Heat 2
Ray Eggert (Liverpool Township)
Nathan Owens (Nova)
Brian Marsee (Elyria)
Full-Size Heat 3
Robbie Wallace (Lorain)
Dustin Kidd (New London)
Kevin Short (Brunswick)
Full-Size Heat 4
Dan Thomas (Medina)
Kyle Fry (Medina)
Dan Cergol (Brunswick)
Mark Barzal (Sharon Township)
Brian Smith (Medina)
Mark Szakacs (Liverpool Township)
Sub-Compact Heat 1
Mark Barzal (Sharon Township)
Adam Rundle (Brunswick)
Justin Simon (Rittman)
John Norton (Medina)
Sub-Compact Heat 2
Leah Hall (Medina)
Jesse Yount (Brunswick)
Jason Brasty (Wadsworth)
Michael Hartman (Medina)
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or email@example.com.