MEDINA — It was a humid Monday night and the action was even hotter, but Nathan “Boy” Owens didn’t break a sweat.
The 1992 Black River High graduate was flawless in his 1992 Ford Crown Victoria at the Medina County Fair’s ’80s and Newer Demolition Derby, winning the feature race over New London’s Dustin Kidd.
It was the Nova Township resident’s first win at Medina and third overall in his nine-year career.
“It’s cool, that’s for sure,” Owens said. “It was a good time.”
Once defending champion Dan Thomas was eliminated from the feature in sixth place, the record-breaking $3,000 winner’s check was up for grabs between Owens, New London’s Joe Hicks, Dustin Kidd and Kyle Kidd and Medina’s Chris Hall.
Then Owens got his break.
A trio of cars got wedged in a corner and only Dustin Kidd’s 1991 Crown Vic could escape. Meanwhile, Owens inflicted damage with his nose despite an obliterated back right tire and “trashed” rear-end.
From there, it was a typical cat-and-mouse game between the two, with Owens eventually pinning Kidd in another corner to end the night.
Owens began the evening in a Heat No. 4 that had plenty of veterans. He skillfully looked for shots that properly bent his trunk upward to help absorb hits and prevent flat tires.
That’s when the gloves came off in a big way. In his own classic style, the fearless Owens landed a handful of precision hits at full throttle, crippling the competition.
In the hard-hitting feature, Owens survived a scare from a bone-crushing smash against a pillar and held on for the championship in one of the most entertaining and well-run derby in years.
All that was left for the 36-year-old was to receive the biggest check and trophy in county demolition derby history and, of course, a congratulatory kiss from his wife, Dana.
“It was tough,” said Owens, whose nickname was given to him by his father, Nathan, Sr. “There was a lot of money in (the cars), that’s for sure. There was a lot of good equipment.”
In sub-compact action, fifth-year entrant Matt Barzal of Sharon Township secured his first career win in a mild upset over grizzled veteran Doug Wilkinson of Lodi.
With his tires wedged in the trunk of his 1995 Chevrolet Cavalier, Barzal slowly plugged away at Wilkinson shortly after watching his younger brother, Mark, safely escape one of the scariest car fires in recent memory.
Barzal and Wilkinson then exchanged multiple rear-on-rear blows until Barzal turned his car around and simply outlasted Wilkinson, whose 1981 AMC Spirit finally lost power after a dozen restarts.
“I was just dodging cars, trying not to get hit and dodging shrapnel or debris,” Barzal said. “I just wanted solid hits, you know?”
“It was fun out there. … My foot hurts from being on the gas pedal just slamming down.”
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.