Pacer power

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 1, 2001

Jeremiah Johnson gave it his best shots.

Wednesday, August 01, 2001

Jeremiah Johnson gave it his best shots.

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The Pacers were just too powerful.

Johnson was the crowd favorite, taking the Hardest Hitter trophy, but his vehicle finished fourth behind three AMC Pacers in the Compact Car Division of the Albert Lea Jaycees Demolition Derby at the Freeborn County Fair Tuesday night.

Terry Smith of Albert Lea, a perennial contender in the derby’s Open Division, took the title in what he guessed is a 1975 Pacer.

&uot;There wasn’t much there when I bought it,&uot; said Smith, who received $350 and a trophy for the win.

Mike Bathke was second, Steve Thistlewaite third.

Smith outlasted 15 other compacts, the biggest field yet in the third year for the division. It proved popular for the fans, with the cars resembling water bugs in a bath tub. Or, as public address announcer Tom Jones noted, it was comparable to midget wrestling.

&uot;The compacts are a blast,&uot; said Smith.

And Johnson delivered several blasts, bouncing off cars like a fleeing vehicle in rush-hour traffic. The 23-year-old Albert Lean said the Hardest Hitter trophy was not his primary goal, though you couldn’t tell by his driving.

&uot;I was going for both, actually,&uot; said Johnson. &uot;If it wasn’t for the Pacers, I might have had a shot.&uot;