For years, Jessy Waner has smashed his way through one demolition derby after another.

“I’ve been doing them since I was 15,” says the 38-year-old Preston native. But he’s never had as much fun as he did Nov. 13-16 in Las Vegas at the Sin City Showdown Derby. And, his team come home with a third place win and $8,000 in prize money.

“That’s the coolest derby ever. It was so cool!” he laughed, recounting his adventure. He, Bronson Twitchell and Colter Wilker were asked to be on the team by Anthony Trippler, the team’s captain. They are all from Cache Valley.

Each took a car, tools and years of experience with each other in the demolition arena. It’s that time spent running into each other that Wanner thinks was their secret to their third place win, despite this being their first time to compete in the show and as a team.

What made the competition so much fun for Wanner, he said, were the people. “There are so many cool people. It’s just the way they fix their cars and the style they drive. They didn’t know what to expect and neither did we,” he said.

“You’ve got guys in there hiding and others hunting. We had sheep and wolves. It was crazy!” In the main event, there were 28 cars and it lasted over half an hour. “There were guys playing cat and mouse and then guys like me doing 100 mph across the arena, tipping people over. I’m the only person who’s tipped somebody over (at this derby),” Wanner laughed.

Drivers came from around the country and Canada. It was a Canadian that ended upside down under Wanner’s car. “I don’t think he liked it,” Wanner said.

“They all took down nice cars and came home with crushed tin cans,” said one of Wanner’s friends, Christa Pitcher. In fact, one of their cars required four new transmissions just to survive the derby.

He looks forward to returning next year. As one of the top eight placing teams, they have a place reserved for the 2020 Vegas showdown.

Despite the entertainment provided by the variety of people he met and saw in Vegas, Wanner said he was glad to come home. “People are weird... By the time we got home I’d had enough.”

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