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Destruction Derby brings fair to smashing finish

When the dust settled at the 2017 Colusa County Demolition Derby’s twelve-car main event, just two cars remained.

Both belonged to Arbuckle residents.

A one-on-one battle between seasoned derby veteran Hector Ramirez and relative newcomer Levi Kalfsbeek ensued, and it was the young gun who came out on top.

With his rear bumper up against the K-Rail cement barriers on the south end of the arena, Ramirez worked in vain to restart his faltering engine and get his derby car in gear as Kalfsbeek positioned himself to make a head-on run at him.

His opponent momentarily immobilized, Kalfsbeek pushed the gas pedal to the floor. His car had endured nearly two full rounds of punishment to that point, but his car’s engine roared when he opened the throttle and the battered vehicle went careening toward Ramirez’s.

In what was one of the biggest hits of the night, Kalfsbeek’s car struck Ramirez’s with a full head of steam and enough force to displace the two cement barriers behind it.

The crash elicited a chorus of excited whooping from the crowd and all but spelled the end for Ramirez. Before the checkered flag went up, however, he beckoned Kalfsbeek with a wave of his hand, asking for one last big collision for the crowd. Kalfsbeek hit him one more time before whipping his car around the arena for a victory lap. Just like that, the 2017 Colusa County Demolition Derby was over.

Kalfsbeek – in just his second year as a competitor – was named the winner, earning himself a $6,000 purse and a first place trophy.

“I placed fourth last year in main, and won my heat. This year, I paced a little better, and it went a lot better,” Kalfsbeek said. “It was good. My motor kept running, and I just kept driving.”

Each of the top four drivers in the main event were Colusa County residents. Three, including Kalfsbeek, Ramirez, and Bryan Shadinger, are from Arbuckle. One – Brett Gross – hails from Colusa.

Gross had an uphill climb to earn himself a trophy at this year’s derby. The 27-year-old competed in the first heat and got off to an inauspicious start. Gross’s car took a big hit early that pushed his car up onto the K-Rail barrier, broke an axel, and caused it to lose a wheel. Gross and his pit crew had some serious repairs to make before he could compete in the consolation heat. They were able to come through, and did so again before the main event, putting Gross in a position to drive his way to a third place finish.

For other drivers, Colusa County Supervisor Kent Boes, the path to the main event was a little less dramatic.

Boes, a derby rookie, was in the first heat with Gross and was among the drivers who automatically qualified for the main event. His car came out of the heat relatively unscathed.

“The car held up. There’s really nothing to do” Boes said in the pits on Sunday, as he and his crew examined the vehicle and prepared for the main event.

He described his first derby heat as a rush, and said he wasn’t necessarily trying to pace himself for an appearance in the main event.

“I was just out there trying to hit the first thing I saw,” Boes said.

Boes ended up finishing in sixth place in the main event.

Zeus Campos, of Dixon, won the derby’s truck division, placing first in a field of three drivers.

Brian Pearson
Brian Pearson
Brian Pearson is the former Managing Editor & Reporter for the Williams Pioneer Review. Brian joined the Williams Pioneer Review in June 2016 and is committed to bringing hyperlocal news to its readers. A few of his projects included reporting local government and the sports page.

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