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The fine art of the demo derby

FRAZEE - West Main Street in Frazee was inundated with car "accidents" on Sunday afternoon.

All of those accidents were par for the course during the demolition derby that closed out the four-day Turkey Days festival.

What looks like chaos is orderly if you talk to any driver. There is etiquette involved when you slam a car into another at 20 to 30 miles per hour.

"You just have to stay away from the door," said Trevor Krueger, who took first-place in the compact car class. "But with those wheel shots, you just put her to the floor."

Those hits mean that drivers go until one is left standing. In most cases, that means that there is only one car that can move.

If a car is stuck, drivers won't be a sitting duck in the middle of the track. They can hold up painted sticks that mean the race is over for them.

Krueger didn't have to worry too much as his success carried over from a run at the Becker County Fair on Saturday.

"We won last night in DL," he said. "Me and that other Pacer (pointing into the pits) took first and second-place there."

While the compacts had the advantage of being quick and maneuverable, the pickups laid out some bone crushing hits on the drivers.

Joshua Stock feels it in every derby he enters.

"It's a rough ride," he said. "It's different than any other of the little cars. It's hard on the back."

Like most other entrants, entering into demolition derbies is a hobby. Drivers usually travel to small cities around the state and beyond every weekend during the summer.

"Since I was 16, I've been doing about 10 derbies a year," Stock said.

He added that he has been to derbies in Iowa and Nebraska.

Drivers aren't competing for the money. Cash is generally paid out to the top-three or just the winner, depending on the event.

"You end up spending more than what you get back," said driver Scott Schave.

With cars crashing into each other, injuries and fires happen.

That's why the Frazee Fire Department's was needed. It was on hand to make sure the drivers and the crowd were safe.

"Fire is the biggest thing because of all the gas lines," said Frazee firefighter Jason Kropuenske. "You're also looking for any type of danger that can poke through a car."

Besides physical hazards, the fire department plays the role of a paramedic, since the firefighters check on drivers if they put up their wave-off sticks in a hurry.

"The health of the driver is what we're really trying to protect," Kropuenske said. "Fires can spread through these cars a lot."