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Ceres' Greg Mathews, Chris Bilyeu, David Correia and Joey Neto had a smashing time at the 32nd Annual Destruction Derby at the Stanislaus County Fair on Monday, July 30.

"It's a great experience," Neto said. "Everybody's out there cheering. You want to make the best hits."

Mathews, Bilyeu and Correia all advanced to the main event.

Mathews enjoyed the most success. The 47-year-old won $700 after piloting his 1967 Chrysler Imperial to a second-place finish in the finals. Greg earned $75 for his runner-up finish in the first heat.

He finished behind Turlock's Mike Hobby twice.

"It was a lot of fun because I haven't competed in a couple of years," Mathews said. "I was happy to get anywhere in the top three."

Greg couldn't believe what he heard when the final results were announced. He didn't place in the top five according to the judges. They made a mistake.

"There was a scoring glitch," Mathews said. "I don't know what happened. I've never seen a finish like that. Somebody was sleeping up there. But they figured it out in the end."

Greg has participated in the Turlock derby 14 times since 1993. He won the main event in 2000. Mathews drove a 1963 Mercury.

"It's fun once you finally get out on the track," Greg said. "I enjoy seeing how long the car will last. You put in a lot of time building it."

Bilyue, 29, piloted his 1982 Cadillac to a career-best third-place finish in the first heat. He won $50.

"I'm very pleased," said Chris, a second-year competitor. "This is the best year I have ran."

Bilyue didn't fare as well in the main event thanks to motor problems.

"I took a couple of good hits and that messed my front end up in the first heat," he said. "My motor quit on me midway through the finals. Other than that, we did pretty good."

Correia, 30, secured a berth in the finals with a fifth-place finish in the consolation heat. He piloted a 1968 Lincoln with suicide doors.

"The main strategy was to drive smart," said David, a third-year participant. "I did pretty good."

Correia's vehicle sustained broken tie-rod ends in the championship round.

"It happened in the middle of the event," he said. "The car wouldn't move."

Asked what he enjoyed most about the competition, Correia said: "Just being able to hit other cars and not worrying about your insurance going up."

David took up destruction derby after breaking both of his legs in a motocross competition in February 2006. He had several surgeries and was relegated to a wheelchair for a couple months.

"I went to a safer sport," Correia said. "Plus, my friends have always done it."

Neto, 26, made his seventh appearance in the Stanislaus County Fair Destruction Derby. He drove a 1967 Chrysler Newport. Joey didn't place.

"I was just trying to make as many hits as I could. And avoid getting creamed," he said. "I thought I did pretty well."

Neto thought he finished in the top five in the consolation heat, which would have guaranteed him a berth to the main event. Joey's vehicle sustained front end damage and a blown radiator.

"My car was still running," he said. "I drove it out of the arena and started working on it. We sent someone out there to listen to the results and we didn't make it. Everyone thought we did. The car was ready to go."