It had been approximately 17 years since Todd Ellman took first place at the Chautauqua County Fair Demolition Derby.
Sunday night, Ellman found himself back on top in the Large Car Feature - this time at the expense of his brother James Jr.
Todd and James were the final two cars alive before Todd delivered the final blow to claim the first-place trophy.
OBSERVER Photo by Sean Pecuch
Ken Harvey (A2) flipped Chad Glasier (A4) in early action from the Chautauqua County Fair Demolition Derby Sunday night.
"I think a lot of people thought I wasn't going to hit him, but we have to put on a show here," Todd said about taking out his younger brother.
"I actually lost my steering three quarters of the way through. I was there the last quarter without steering. I was just hoping one of those cars were gonna quit. My brother blew his transmission and Art Seeley, the other car, overheated."
With 23 cars in the final heat, Todd was in the middle of the action from start to finish. Despite delivering, and taking, some big hits, his car was able to withstand the carnage and be victorious.
He credited the victory to being smart.
"You can't go head-on at 60 mph," he continued. "You have to keep the engine cool. You have to use that back end. I had an awesome car builder. Henry Pencek built that car and man he did a good job. We are going to hire him again next year."
Pencek was also part of the Ellman team and had a fine showing himself as he was awarded for his driving with Best of Show.
"I built one, two and best of show," he said. "We had the biggest and baddest show ever. It was awesome. They had some people coming for me, that was the buzz. They wanted me. I just come down here every year to put on a show for the fans and kids. My dad is here for the very first time. He has never watched a demolition derby and never seen me in one. It means a lot to me."
In the Small Car Feature, Craig Bedell took home first place. The heat came down to Bedell, Brian Gonsolus and David King. The fact King survived as long as he did was quite impressive, considering his wheel bearing on the back tire froze up.
Bedell's trick to victory was bringing two cars with him. After winning in an earlier heat, he used the second car for the victory.
"We usually build good cars for this stuff," he said. "There is a group of people that we like to run with. They have five or six guys. When they are out there, it's hard to compete. We try to get to the end, and when we do, you better have your helmet buckled."
Asked if he ever thought a victory was in question, Bedell said, "I wondered the whole time. I knew I had my hands full."
It didn't take long for fans to get excited as roughly six seconds into the opening heat, Ken Harvey used his back end to flip Chad Glazier upside down. Glazier's day was over, but Harvey continued and put on a show with several hard hits. For his effort, he was awarded Best of Show. In the end of the first heat, Bedell and John Ryan were left standing to advance.
In the second heat, 29 cars were in action. With all the action taking place, it was impossible for fans to see all the action with several collisions taking place at both ends of the track. Tracy Britting drove a Caprice Classic, but by the end of the heat, it resembled a Volkswagen Bug.
Keith Glowniak took first place in the second heat, followed by Nate Smith and Pete Glowniak. Best of Show went to the best-looking competitor of the evening in young Shalynn Kachermeyer of Fredonia.
"It took about two months to build this," she said. "I wasn't intimidated at all. I was really excited about good competition. Last year was my first year. I learned last year to hit hard and not be scared."
The third heat consisted of just 10 cars. The winner was Pat Thauer while Chuck Pierce Sr. took second, followed by his son in third. Denver Nickerson won Best of Show.
With nearly 30 cars in the second heat and just 10 in the third heat, Demolition Derby Director Al Wilson clarified the reasoning by pointing out the different classifications of divisions.
"I like the 30 cars," he admitted. "The 10-12 to me is not a demo derby. But, the trouble is, the people don't realize it's a different class of cars. Some classes there are more in it, and others there are not."
In the fourth heat, Chad Ellman was a one-man wrecking crew throughout the heat as he finished off more cars in that heat than any other competitor. His run to a victory came to an end when Nate Smith, Wayne Clemens and Cory Near teamed up to knock out Ellman.
In the end, Smith took first place Clemens took second and Near placed third. Chad Ellman punched his ticket into the finals as the crowd voted him Best of Show.
The final qualifying heat consisted of five cars. For what the heat lacked in quantity, it certainly made up for in quality.
In the end, James Ellman Jr. took first place, Duane Nickerson took second and Dan Shoup placed third. Ryan Travis was named Best of Show.
When it was all said and done, Wilson was pleased with how the day went.
"I think it went fantastic," he concluded. "I think everyone played safe. The guys did a nice, clean race. I thought the whole event was clean. I think the boys are all as safe as can be. No one wants to hurt anybody."