Two friends collide at the Boone County Demolition Derby

Sunday, July 26, 2009 | 11:13 p.m. CDT; updated 5:29 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Justin Schafer smashes into Rob Heuer and becomes attached to the modified car Sunday in the Boone County Fair Demolition Derby. A tractor had to pull the two cars apart to continue the competition.

COLUMBIA — The crowd goes into a frenzy cheering from the bleachers while five car engines start to rev up.

"The judges are ready, the drivers are ready," the announcer said over the loudspeakers. "Five, four, three, two, one, go."


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The judges around the track wave flags to signal the start of the Boone County Fair Demolition Derby on Sunday night.

The cars raced around the muddy tracks at the Boone County grandstand sending chunks of mud into the crowd.  This was soon followed by the sound of metal crunching as cars started slamming into each other.

Two competitors in the fray were Eddie Chick and Rob Heuer. Heuer and Chick are derby veterans who have been running in derbies together for 20 years.

"I've been doing this since the derbies were held at the old fairgrounds over by Gerbes and Broadway," Chick said.  "I never won any derbies here in Columbia, but I'm still looking forward to it, win, lose, or draw."

They competed in the modified car division of the derby. Ten cars entered the division and were separated into two heats of five cars each.  The division contained cars with eight-cylinder engines and cars with wheel bases of 103 inches or longer.

Chick said he watched derbies when he was 16-years-old and started participating in them when he was 20.

He brought a bright orange 1975 Chevy Impala to the derby.  The car was caved in the rear end and there were a few baseball-sized dents running across both sides of the car. In addition to wearing a helmet, Chick wore extra protection. He wore pads around his neck and elbow.

But the thing that stood out was a black and yellow sign on roof his car. The name Andy Bell was on the sign surrounded by two crosses and the year 2008.

Chick and Bell ran in derbies together for 20 years before Bell died in August of 2008 from a heart attack.  Bell died a few days after participating in a derby.  The sign was a way for Chick to pay tribute to his late friend. 

"I remember in 2005, I could not make the derby because I had open heart surgery, but Andy drove my car for me," Chick said.  "They did something for him at the Macon derby so I wanted to pay tribute to him here."

Heuer was also friends with Bell and remembers him for his laid-back personality and his aggressive nature on the dirt track.

"He was full throttle all the way, he always put on a show for the fans," Heuer said.  "When the show was dull he would liven it up."

Heuer, like Chick, drove a 1975 Chevy Impala in the derby.  The paint on his car was modeled after a police vehicle.  It was solid black and has the number "911" on the passenger side of the vehicle. 

Heuer had to bring a permission slip to his first derby at the age of 15, and he has gone on to participate for 23 more years.

After the first heat, Chick and Heuer came back with their cars dented from front to back on both sides of their cars. Forklifts hauled both cars to the pit area, and they started to get their cars ready for the feature derby.

When Heuer car arrived at the pit, the lower part of the frame around his left-rear wheel stuck out like a sore thumb. Heuer started to pound away with a sledgehammer reinforcing the car.

Although, Heuer and Chick are good friends, they said they would still go after each other in the feature derby.

All ten cars from both heats in the modified car division would all go back on the track to compete one more time to determine the derby winner.

During the feature, with only three cars remaining, Heuer's steering went out and he was only able to move forward or backward. After derby competitor Jake Reed was eliminated it came down to Chick and Heuer.

Chick slammed hard on the gas pedal, but his car did not budge. His drive shaft went out. The engine was still running, but his car was immobilized. Heuer was fortunate that Chick's car was in range he was able to make contact with it. A judge waved the black flag at Chick's car signaling the end of the derby, proclaiming Heuer the winner.

 After the derby, Heuer was awarded $1,000 for his efforts.  This was the fourth time Heuer has won a demolition derby in Columbia, and he said he was glad it came down to him and Chick.

"We hoped that it would come down to us, but I was the last one standing," Heuer said.

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