“I was nervous off the start. I got my nerves settled in and all ready to go,” Gillams native Chris Park said moments after exiting his 2004 Chevrolet Impala.
Park won the first race in the compact car division in his debut at the 2017 Smash-Up for MS demolition derby held Saturday in Gillams on the north shore of the Bay of Islands.
He was all smiles as he accepted high-fives and a warm applause from the crowd of about 1,000 people who didn’t let persistent light rain dampen their spirits.
“Hit everything you see,” Park said bluntly when asked if he had a strategy for his debut.
Park had no time to waste because he had some work to do to get his vehicle ready for the survivor race. A back tire wouldn’t go around so that was one of the things he had to address, but he did return later for the survivor race.
“She’s twisted up a little bit,” he said as he headed to the driver’s pit area.
Jordan Cox of Summerside wasn’t so fortunate as he waited for somebody to remove his 1992 Cadillac Fleetwood from the pit after the compact car event.
It was his first time participating in a demolition derby, but he figures it’s something he would do again because it was a good time.
“It was pretty scary, but it was fun at the same time,” Cox said. “You don’t know what to expect. You don’t know where or when you’re going to get hit, but I would do it again.”
Drivers in the big car division had their hands full with some seasoned veterans in the mix, including Mitchell Merner of Glenwood, winner of the first Big Car event in a 1986 Lincoln Towncar.
Merner drove the same car to a second-place finish at the inaugural Smash-Up for MS held one year ago at the same venue.
“It’s an adrenalin rush you that you’d probably never get anywhere else,” Merner said. “It’s really intense. You’re looking out for your buddies in there with you … I got a buddy in there, Ron Ellis, and I’m watching for him and he’s watching for me.”