Demolition Derby carnage draws large crowd

Winning car was dedicated to fallen Blue Angels pilot

Paul Krueger accepts his first-place trophy after beating six other cars in the final round of the annual Demolition Derby at the La Plata County Fairgrounds. Krueger’s car was dedicated to fallen Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss. Enlarge photo

Mia Rupani/Durango Herald

Paul Krueger accepts his first-place trophy after beating six other cars in the final round of the annual Demolition Derby at the La Plata County Fairgrounds. Krueger’s car was dedicated to fallen Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss.

Maybe it was luck, or intervention by a greater power from above, but Paul Krueger placed first in the Demolition Derby on Saturday in his car dedicated to Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss.

Krueger’s 1977 Pontiac Grand Prix was painted blue and yellow, similar to the U.S. Navy Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron aircrafts. Kuss died a year ago in a jet accident in Tennessee while practicing with the Blue Angels.

“It is really cool to win. We got knocked out pretty early last year,” Krueger said. “Anything can go wrong here. You lose one wrong bolt and it’s over.”

Rowdy fans packed into the bleachers at the rodeo arena to watch the event, which is part of the annual La Plata County Fair.

Event organizer Lynn Dobbins said the metal carnage is what attracts so many people.

“Honestly, the crowd loves to see things get smashed up,” she said.

It is a timed process of elimination to see who can withstand the worst damage while hitting the most cars.

Ralph Brawley, a driver with Team 86, has been a contender in the derby for 10 years. He said it is good fun, and friendly competition.

“I love it. It is something fun to do. We build cars, wreck them and hopefully, everyone has a good time. We’ve been competing against each other for years,” Brawley said. “Last year, we flipped a vehicle. We had a blast.”

Sixteen cars and five pickups competed in this year’s event. The cars participate in three timed heats, a consolation round and the finale. The trucks have one timed heat.

Bill Sitton won $1,675 for placing first in the truck heat. Krueger won $2,030 for his victory, beating out six other cars in the final round.

mrupani@durangoherald.comThis story has been edited to correct the name of the Demolition Derby winner. His name is Paul Krueger.

Paul Krueger’s car sustained most of its damage after smashing into second-place winner Darrell Cordary’s car head-on. This was the first time Krueger placed in the competition. Enlarge photo

Mia Rupani/Durango Herald

Paul Krueger’s car sustained most of its damage after smashing into second-place winner Darrell Cordary’s car head-on. This was the first time Krueger placed in the competition.

Smoke envelops the crowd during one of the heats at the Demolition Derby on Saturday at the rodeo arena at the La Plata County Fairgrounds. Enlarge photo

Mia Rupani/Durango Herald

Smoke envelops the crowd during one of the heats at the Demolition Derby on Saturday at the rodeo arena at the La Plata County Fairgrounds.

A crowd watches from the bleachers at the La Plata County Fairgrounds as cars parade around the arena before the start of the Demolition Derby. Enlarge photo

Mia Rupani/Durango Herald

A crowd watches from the bleachers at the La Plata County Fairgrounds as cars parade around the arena before the start of the Demolition Derby.

Cars smash into one another during the Demolition Derby at the annual La Plata County Fair. Enlarge photo

Mia Rupani/Durango Herald

Cars smash into one another during the Demolition Derby at the annual La Plata County Fair.

Badly-damaged cars sit smoking during the final round at the Demolition Derby on Saturday. Driver Paul Krueger took first place in his 1977 Pontiac Grand Prix. Enlarge photo

Mia Rupani/Durango Herald

Badly-damaged cars sit smoking during the final round at the Demolition Derby on Saturday. Driver Paul Krueger took first place in his 1977 Pontiac Grand Prix.

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