October 22, 2014

Medina
Mostly cloudy
50°F

Winner proud despite mixed reception

MEDINA — Scott Drerenak couldn’t stop grinning Friday night as he rocked a T-shirt that said “Proud member of the wrong crowd.”

Suffice to say, it didn’t bother the North Olmsted resident when he received a mixed bag of cheers and boos after winning the Me-dina County Fair “Old Iron” Demolition Derby.

“I don’t get it, you know?” Drerenak said after an unusually long post-race inspection. “I brought a good car and I drove the hell out of it.

“Everybody can sit in the stands and boo me all they want, but they ain’t got no car, they ain’t got no money and they ain’t got the big trophy.”

Drerenak’s third career win didn’t come easy. The field was loaded with very strong late 1960s Chrysler Imperials and many big names not afraid to run aggressive games in gun-ning for the massive $3,000 grand prize.

Drerenak’s ‘67 Imperial stood out with a rugged front end and ultra-strong 383 Chevrolet engine modified with “experimental-type stuff.” He qualified out of the fifth heat relatively unscathed, which ulti-mately gave him more life than his competition in the Feature race.

But instead of going all-out early on the Feature, Drerenak admitted he spent most of his time doing donuts in hopes of avoiding big hits. His strategy ultimately backfied and Drerenak and “Henrietta Hillbillies” team-mate Bill Biljes were pink-flagged early on by race officials for blatently avoiding contact with each other.

From that point, though, it was game on for Drerenak as he unleashed fury on multiple competi-tors with an orange rig that seemingly would never die. He ultimately was the last left running after a big hit from Biljes jammed him into a corner with local favorite Bonnie Haury from Medina.

The roar from the near-capacity crowd was mixed, though the booing was loud and clear among non-Henrietta Hillbillies team members in the pits.

Drerenak didn’t appear to mind all the extra attention — the post-race inspection crowd was 4-5 times larger than normal — but stopped short of com-mitting to a title defense.

“It’s great, man, it’s real great,” Drerenak proudly said of his third career win with his son, Scottie, by his side. “We get to take the money back to Lorain County. We’re from Lorain County and we’re just real happy.”

In sub-compact action, there was no controversy as 22-year-old David Wilkin-son literally used every trick his 1992 Honda had to secure his first career win.

With the Medina resident and Chippewa Lake’s Tim Plues jockeying for position amid 16 dead competitors, it appeared Wilkinson was in trouble after his clutch failed.

However, he somehow kept restarting with his transmission in gear. Even-tually the engine gave out, but Wilkinson brilliantly used his starter to get the final winning hit — albeit at less than 1 MPH — on Plues’ 1996 Dodge Neon that drew a massive roar from the crowd for its ingenuity.

“That’s why I pushed as much as I could, shut it off and put it into a different gear,” Wilkinson said of the improvised strategy. “I was desperate. The motor’s blown and the starter was the only thing moving it.”

It didn’t matter how Wilkinson won, though, because he grabbed bragging rights after also beating out his older brother and multi-time champion, Doug, for the title.

“It was great and I’m so excited because I beat my brother for once,” David Wilkinson said. “I get to pick on my brother all year long.”

Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or agrindle@medina-gazette.com.