by karla pomeroy
Twenty-two cars entered the record-setting 41st annual Big Horn County Fair Demolition Derby Sunday with Payton Gonzalez of Greybull coming out victorious. There was also a record or near-record crowd watching the derby with unofficial tallies showing paid attendance of 1,050.
There were nine cars in the finals heat — Gonzalez and dad, Rudy, who were the two winners of the first heat; second heat winners Brad Christopherson and Doug Zierolf; third heat winners Mark Christopherson, last year’s derby winner, and Dereck Hutzenbieler; grudge match winners Dusty Watts and Roman Bastida. Heat winners each received $100. A third car from the grudge match advanced but received no money. Brandon Brown won the spot but was unable to get the car going. He was replaced by Joe Maul.
After the dust and mud settled, Payton Gonzalez was awarded first place prize of $2,000, plus the $250 MAD (Most Aggressive Driver) Dog award.
Mark Christopherson brought home second place and $800.
Rudy Gonzalez was third, earning $600.
Brandon Brown and Dusty Watts were co-MAD Dog Award winners in the grudge match.
The derby featured a truck heat for the first time with seven trucks entered but only six making it into the arena. Quinton Haley won the Tough Luck Award for being unable to get his truck started and running in the derby, which was a trophy and $50 cash prize.
Hazen Jensen won the raffle to drive the State Farm No. 8 truck in the heat. The truck was built by Performance Auto and sponsored by State Farm Insurance to raise funds for the fair derby.
Other truck drivers were Bob White, Jared Jares, Brandon Forsgren and Brad Christopherson and Amber Christopherson.
Brad Christopherson, in the only Dodge pickup in the heat, crashed his way to first place and the MAD Dog Award for $1,000 and $250 prizes, respectively.
Amber Christopherson in her Cowboy Pride pickup was second earning $600 and Brandon Forsgren was third in his No. 6 pickup.
Mark Senn won the best looking car and Brad Christopherson won best looking truck, each receiving $50 each.
The derby is the largest in the Big Horn Basin this summer and one of the largest derbies in the state this year.
“We want to get the derby back to being fun, like a king-size bumper cars,” Dwain Christopherson said. “Overall I think this derby went really, really well. It’s going to be hard derby to top. We didn’t have the best car count but great track.
He said there is a lot of enthusiasm for the truck class next year, “if you want good heavy hitting and they are easier to build.”