FALLS CITY – After 35 years of wreckage, ruin and glory, the Falls City demolition derby is established as a true, multi-state competition.
It is the crown of the city’s annual Cobblestone Festival and Jessica Fischer of the Falls City Jaycees says it continues to be a draw.
Fischer: “The best mechanics in town get their cars ready and come out here to crash into it.”
Derby organizer Jesse Kimmi of Pay Up Suckers Promotions said he grew up with in the derby circuit and everyone from Kansas and Missouri knew that crossing the border into Nebraska meant business. He said there are no home-town favorites at Falls City.
Kimmi: “Same way going to Missouri, Kansas guys going to Missouri, you got treated different. Missouri guys coming to Kansas, they got treated different. Because of that, when I took it over, and started doing derbying, my main goal was – if we want these derbies to last and we want derbies to keep going to where our kids can run – we’ve got to treat everybody the same.”
“It doesn’t matter if you’re two blocks away or 200 miles away, we treat everybody the same.
Through the time I started doing this, we have showed that is what it takes. Car counts have started coming back up. We’re getting more cars. A lot of these derbies were talking about going away and not doing it anymore.”
Brad Oberdieck, a 41-year-old construction worker from Stella, has competed in the Falls City derby for 23 straight years. He said this year had the most cars in decades.
Oberdieck says his trophy case is small, but not bare.
Oberdieck: I’ve been demo-ing since I was 18 and been doing it every year since. I’ve got a few trophies, not very many. I’ve kind of got a heavy foot, so I kind of tear up my car before it lasts to the end. I won the mad dog trophy here last year in the heat I was running.”
Dustin Norris of Atchison, Kan., was introduced to derbying by his brother and has been hooked every since.
A welder at a steel foundry in Kansas, Norris drove a 2001 Crown Vic with Chevy running gears and plenty of bling with dual stacks towering from the hood.
Norris: The keys to success? “Try to take it easy. Take your best shots. That way you don’t junk it too fast. Stay out of trouble.”
Josh Jolly of Camden Point, Mo., was defending his championship last year in welded compacts.
Jolly: “Just keep your head in the game and ‘track shots’ don’t always win. Keeping a steady pace and knowing who you are running with and taking vital shots on other cars is generally what helps us win.”
Kimmi said division winners can pocket $1,800, a little payback for tremendous amounts of time and money.
Kimmi: “There’s some of the bone stock cars that I know guys that built them in 45 minutes. Now the limited weld division, you’re looking at forty-plus hours in a car, if not more, depending upon your dedication and how much true, you’re into it. You’re still going to have $15,000 in a limited weld car.”