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July 23, 2005|by PEPPER BALLARD

Even though his old spray-painted Nissan Sentra's trunk was crushed inches from his head and its rear tires spun feet from the ground, Darron Hamrick sludged, spun and smashed the tiny wreck into cars twice its size.

And then went up in a ball of smoke.

"I tried," Hamrick said and smiled, after crawling through the car's windshield space.

Hamrick was one of 17 drivers Friday night who competed for a grand prize of $500 in the Washington County Ag Expo's annual Demolition Derby. The top five drivers received money and trophies, derby announcer "Demo Derby" told the fans.

Puffs of white smoke seemed to signal each clunker that tuckered out Friday while the stronger spray-painted and chained wrecks tried to outsmash each other.


People's names, love notes and silly messages were scrawled on most of the cars, but variations of "Git-R-Done," like Git-R-Did, were sprayed on most of the competitor's clunkers.

Joel Fitz, 18, had a theory about why the catchy phrase was so popular Friday night.

"Then when you win, you write' 'Got her done,'" he said.

Fitz was joking with friends before the demolition began.

"That car, it's run forever," he said, pointing to a black and orange freshly spray-painted Oldsmobile that had "Git-R-Done," among references to his friend's business written on it.

"His grandfather needs it back to go to church on Sunday," the business's owner, Terry Thompson, chimed in. He said he thought it would be fun to sponsor a couple of cars in the derby, but said he wouldn't drive in it.

He said the group has found demolition cars "sitting in the weeds, someone's backyard, someone's front yard."

Another man chained the trunk together on a 1971 teal Cadillac, which he said he got for $150. It had about 71,000 miles on it when he got it, he said, and it still has about 71,000 miles on it.

The car's name was "This ain't your daddy's Caddy."

Jeff Shumaker, 34, said he practices with his 1986 Buick, aka "911," for the derby in a wooded 6-acre area.

"My brother was practicing with it and he only got 10 feet," he said with a laugh. "That was Sunday."

Shumaker, who took a break from tinkering with his car, scanned the other cars in the parking lot before the derby began.

"Looks like a lot of big ones. That's all right," he said, his eyes still scanning. "The bigger they are, the harder they fall."

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