The stands full of families: Check.
Announcers revved up: Check.
Cars and trucks ready: Double check.
The list marked off, the annual Payson Demolition Derby delivered tons of fun and bit of drama, too.
As usual, the boys from Phoenix dominated the roster for the car derby, while local Payson boys filled the ranks of the truck derby.
Local Brant Price, bravely drove into the crush of Phoenix drivers to crack the watermelon in the center of the arena in the final heat, but ended up first out and in fifth place. He still won some gas money, due to the drivers voting to split the prize money five ways.
“Very cool,” said Jerry Honeycutt, the derby organizer and announcer.
The more ruthless and souped-up cars from the Phoenix entrants knocked Price out of the running early on.
Glen Madden, from Mesa, lost out next when his front tire came off the wheelbase. Judge Drew Justice had to give him hand signals that he had no tire before he gave up.
Butch Bettis from Glendale got pushed out of the ring and hung up on the dirt berm, ending his bid to win the car derby.
Next, David Schueller and Jason Skelly were duking it out in the arena. First one of them would put the other in a compromising situation and then miraculously it would turn around. Back and forth they went until both were stuck and could no longer move.
The two agreed to end in a standoff. They split the winning money and the trophy.
“We’ll take a ‘plasma cutter’ and split this in half for ’ya,” said Honeycutt of the trophy.
In the truck derby, the Payson boys had it out for the lone Phoenix driver, but he was not the first out.
Carl Plumb’s truck had an electrical fire he just could not overcome, so he had to drop out early and take fifth place.
Next out was Forrest Waggoner, another Payson local, who ended up winning the Most Aggressive Driver award for his performance in the first heat.
Mike Maynard, from Phoenix, quickly cried uncle, snapping off his stick as Enzo Salerno and Mikey Wicks came barreling down on him while his truck sat exposed up against the dirt berm.
Salerno and Wicks then turned on one another, bashing each other until Salerno’s truck gave out.
“Me and Forrest, both of us are aggressive drivers,” said Wicks, winner of the truck final heat.
Wicks is a Payson local who owns Enhance Diesel Repair Shop, he also won the title of Hometown Champ, which comes with a bonus pay out.
His winning strategy included simply eliminating the co-drivers, he said.
When asked why he and the other Payson boys so intently went after Maynard, the lone Phoenix driver, Wicks said, “He was sandbagging in the first heat.”
Sandbagging is the practice of waiting until everyone has damaged themselves too badly to continue, then racing in to finish off the finalist.
Last year, the final Phoenix truck driver used that strategy to win the truck derby.
This year, the locals were not about to let that happen again.
And so they didn’t.