BONNERS FERRY — The demolition derby was set to start at 6 p.m., yet the stands of the Boundary County Fairgrounds filled quickly on Saturday, Sept. 8, almost reaching capacity by 5:30 p.m. The lure of the sound of metal on metal, engines racing, and the perfume of exhaust in the air, drew the spectators to the 2018 Smash & Bash put on by Glass House Productions, LLC.
The evening began with the national anthem sung by Jazmyne Lederhos, eliciting a roar of applause from the amped crowd. The cars were then brought into the arena, some drivers showing off, showering the arena in a spray of dirt, eliciting a loud response from the crowd.
With little hesitation, the cars cleared out, leaving the contenders for the first of three heats. A countdown, followed by the roar of engines, and the derby was off to a smashing start.
The crowd was not disappointed as the drivers dropped pedals to the floor, driving and hitting hard. Two more exciting heats followed, leaving bits of car and wheels behind.
Two other divisions were run — a compact car division that included the only female driver, and a truck division, that delighted the audience.
Washington driver Casey Duncan took the win for the compact division, and a surprise tie occured between Brandon Regehr and Bryce Copeland for the truck division.
The main event brought the top cars back into the arena to decide the winners. With a combined purse of $10,000 up for grabs, the drivers all pushed and hit hard. First place went to Kyle Wiebe of Creston, B.C., earning him $4,000. Second place went to Chris Cook of Clarkston, Wash., earning him $1,200. Third went to Derek Fedechko of Creston, B.C., with winnings of $500, followed by Brandon Regehr of Bonners Ferry in fourth, earning $250, and Andy Scott of Bonners Ferry in fifth, earning $100.
The popular Aggressive Driver awards went to Kyle Wiebe, Derek Fedechko, and Chris Cook, which is unusual.
“That usually doesn’t happen,” said promoter Kyle Watts. “Their cars are normally junked. They drove hard.”
Watts explained that this event is unique in several ways. The first is that they don’t charge an entry fee for the drivers, and also that there is so much community support, such as the Kootenai River Inn supplying rooms for all the drivers, which attracts great participation.
“Our town and our derby takes care of the drivers,” said Watts.
In turn, the drivers come out and drive hard, giving the audience the thrill they are looking for. Rather than just tap and hide, to try and save their car, they go for the big hits.
“People come here, not to win, but to please our crowd,” remarked Watts. “All the drivers came out to drive hard — which the crowd likes.”
And the fans did show their appreciation with whoops and cheers for every good hit, and applauding loudly to encourage drivers to keep going after a hard hit.
“I think it is rad,” said fan Summer Peterson, who watched from the rail of the grandstand, dodging flying dirt with a laugh. “I think it is pretty amazing. It is really good this year. The truck rally was pretty awesome and different.”
Overall winner and one of the most Aggressive Driver winners, Kyle Wiebe came down to compete from Creston, B.C. Although he has been competing for about 15 years, this is his first win in Bonners Ferry. He drove his 1967 Lincoln Continental hard — right into other cars — and came out on top.
“It’s a hard show and to win it is an accomplishment,” said Wiebe. “It’s a good derby. The promoter is awesome and puts on a good show.”
Watts stressed the importance of the amazing support of the community, which was instrumental in helping to bring back the derby for the fifth year.
“All the support from local businesses is the reason this can happen,” he said. “Without them, it would not be possible.”
As the dirt settled and night fell, the audience filtered from the stands, and cars were loaded on trailers — a bit more mangled than they arrived — the smiles and laughter still echoed across the fairgrounds- evidence of another successful event.