Demo drivers take aim

Published 9:05 am Monday, August 4, 2008

Chaos and mayhem took center stage Sunday at the Freeborn County Fair and those responsible were none other than the Masters of Disaster.

The Masters of Disaster, led by Paul Nielsen, put together a demolition derby that entertained a capacity crowd at the grandstand.

In the end, only one car was left standing in the full-size class and it was Greg King. King won the $1,000 first place prize by knocking out Kelly Ellingson in the final event.

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LaDon Ellingson took home first place in the compact division with his Ford Pinto, winning $600. Mike Boettcher earned $500 for first in the truck division and Heather Nielsen won $300 with her victory in the powder puff division.

Seventy-four cars competed, spraying fans with mud from the track and leaving fans cheering with each colossal crash.

In the first heat of the compact division Josh Ignaszewski flipped his car in a collision, but was some how able to put himself back together to reach the finals and win the hardest hitter award.

In another surprise Cody Gaines, a 14-year-old participating in his second derby ever, finished in third place in the compact class.

“It was fun,” Gaines said. “I didn’t think I was going to do this good.”

All in all it was an action-packed event that had fans clamoring for crashes and booing sandbaggers.

“The derby has been a big part of Albert Lea,” Nielsen said. “Hopefully it keeps going.”

Gas prices and the economy has certainly affected the participation level in derbies but the interest level hasn’t waned.

“This year we got an exceptional group of drivers,” said Paul’s wife Heather Nielsen. “Wish we could have a few more powder puff drivers. With the economy and stuff and gas prices and all that it’s been down.”

Every participant in the final in the full-size class received money while the top three won in all the other divisions.

It was the second year the Masters of Disaster have put on the show after the Jaycees decided to no longer run the event.

The Masters of Disaster also honored long-time derby contestant Jason Robran who passed away earlier this year in a motorcylce accident with a ceremony in between shows.

Full-size Finals:

First: Greg King $1,000, second Kelly Ellingson $600, third Derrick Sonnek $350, fourth Jim O’Byrne $250, fifth Shawn Ellingson $150 sixth Mike Gaines $75, seventh Jeremy Wangen $75, eighth Derek Lau $75, ninth Larry Folkerts $75, 10th Jason Pestorious $75, 11th: Chris Knutson $75, 12th Kenny Money $75, 13th Dana Gilliam $50, 14th Bob Baker $50, 15th Jonathan Anderson $50, 16th: Matt Schaumberg $50, 17th Levi Bachtle $50, 18th Jere Vanriper $50, Hardest Hitter: Greg King.

Compact Finals: first LaDon Ellingson $600, second Dillan Nash $350, third Cody Gaines $225, fourth Jay Flatness $125, fifth: Josh Ignaszewski $75, Hardest Hitter: Josh Ignaszewski.

Trucks Final: first Mike Boettcher $500, second John Larson $250, third Darren Sonnek $100, Best of Show Darren Sonnek, Hardest Hitter John Larson.

Powder Puff: first Heather Nielsen $300, second Tina Urschitz $200, third Chelsey Schumaker $100, Hardest Hitter Heather Nielson, Best in Show: Chesley Schumaker.