Gaines claims derby crown

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 4, 1999

For Mike Gaines and Terry Smith, it was deja vu all over again.

Wednesday, August 04, 1999

For Mike Gaines and Terry Smith, it was deja vu all over again. Except this time Gaines came out on top.

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The two veteran drivers had the final cars remaining in the feature heat of the annual Albert Lea Jaycees Demolition Derby at the Freeborn County Fair Tuesday night – a repeat of their one-on-one battle in the 1996 derby.

Three years ago, Smith outdueled Gaines for the championship.

On Tuesday, Gaines’ diesel-powered 1976 Chevrolet Impala was the last vehicle running.

Gaines, who placed third in last year’s derby with the same car, said he wasn’t looking forward to another one-on-one showdown with Smith, who won the derby last year.

&uot;I was hoping it wasn’t him, but it didn’t surprise me,&uot; said Gaines, who won the Albert Lea derby in 1993 as well.

Gaines, of Glenville, took home a trophy and a $1,000 check for the title. He also won the Hardest Hitter trophy. Gaines was sponsored by Subway of Albert Lea and Austin and Glenville Wrecking Crew.

Smith, hoping to become the first ever repeat winner of his home town derby, got a trophy and $400 for second place. Third place and $200 went to Kelly Ellingson of Glenville. Paul Nielsen was fourth, earning $150. Blaine Schroeder collected $100 for fifth place.

Also qualifying for the feature were Les Prange, Nathan Ostrander, Dennis Lau, Wayne Borneman, Michael Anderson, Jason Pestorious, Mike Thimmesch, Loren Sprague, Jamie Nielon, Paul Nielsen, Jeff Olson, Kelly Ellingson, Nick Yokiel, T.J. Madsen, Kyle Spilde and Jason Olson.

A new class this year was the Compact Car Division and it was won handily by Steve VanRyswyk of Albert Lea in 1978 GMC Pacer.

The Pacer was barely dented while the second-place car, a 1985 Chevrolet Cavalier driven by Mike Thistlethwaite of Clarks Grove, sustained heavy damage.

&uot;The Pacer is real tough,&uot; said Thistlethwaite. &uot;I knew what I was going up against.&uot;

&uot;It’s a good car,&uot; said VanRyswyk, who won the regular derby in 1995. &uot;I might drive it again for the Austin derby. We’ll see what I feel like in the morning.&uot;

VanRyswyk got a trophy and $175 for the win. Thistlethwaite earned $75 for second while Mark M. Krause took home $50 for third.

VanRyswyk was an obvious choice for Hardest Hitter in his division.

Jaycees President Chuck Grinolds said the feature was one of the most lively and hard-hitting in recent memory.

&uot;It was one of the more fast-paced derbies,&uot; said Grinolds. &uot;All participants – not just the winners – performed beyond what was expected.&uot;