Steve Kleekamp stood out like a sore thumb at the Demolition Derby last night.
After towing a dilapidated minivan into the Boone County Fairground’s Grandstand, Kleekamp was prepared to do battle on the watered-down dirt oval in front of a packed house.
“I came last year as a spectator and liked everything,” said Kleekamp, a projectmanager for Lawson Software. “I heard they were opening up a minivan division this year. I wasn’t too excited by the compacts, but minivans are more appealing. Plus it’s just comical seeing a van out there.”
Despite putting in a month of work in his spare time and spending $650 on making his van derby ready, Kleekamp was unable to race his No. 12 minivan due to no other challengers in the minivan division. He was also unable to compete against the full-size car and the compact car divisions due to the regulations of Grandstand Attractions, the organizers of the derby.
“I knew (not racing) was a potential risk,” Kleekamp said. “It wouldn’t be fair to derby against the compact cars, and I wouldn’t want to get in against some of the bigger cars because they have a lot of steel. Vans usually have stronger chassis than compacts.”
After waiting anxiously, Kleekamp’s van still stood alone as the clock drew near the drivers’ meeting. Trucks towing derby cars kept coming down the gravel road to the field past the grandstand, but there was no challenger for Kleekamp.
At the driver’s meeting, Grandstand Attractions owner Bill McDermith declared Kleekamp the winner of the minivan heat, which earned him $50 and a plaque.
“I’m not gonna display the plaque because I didn’t do anything, you know?” Kleekamp said. “It just sucks.”
All wasn’t lost though. The organizers wanted to show off their newest class of demolition derby automobiles, the minivan.
“Let me tell you soccer moms, this class is for you,” bellowed the derby announcer as Kleekamp’s van roared out in front of the cheering crowd. After a series of fish tails, Kleekamp was all smiles.
“I felt like a goofball doing it, but it was fun,” he said.
Kleekamp doesn’t plan to keep the van dent-free for long. He is planning to derby in Macon and Sturgeon in the minivan class, but whether he brings the van back to the Boone County Fair next year depends on those two derbies. He issued a statement to all his potential minivan derby challengers.
“I’m waiting for them.”