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Cereans drive in derby
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Five Ceres residents participated in the Stanislaus County Fair's Destruction Derby I Traditional Turmoil competition Wednesday night, including Brian Holt, Joe Neto, Ron Terrill Jr., Jeremy Randall and Preston Cary. Around 4,500 fans attended the 30th annual event.

The derby featured a 44-car field, split into three heats, a consolation round and the main event. The top five in each heat advanced to the championship. Five drivers from consolation also qualified for the finals.

"Right now I'm gloating and everybody is bowing down to me at the Holt farm," said Brian, a day after driving his black 1969 Chrysler Imperial to a first-place finish. "We keep count of our wins and trophies."

Holt, 32, topped 19 other drivers in the finals, including his three brothers. He took home a trophy and $825.

Brandon, 23, and David, 31, placed second and sixth, respectively.

Doug, 33, didn't place. He finished first last year.

"Everybody at Turlock wants to beat us," Brian said.

"We buy good cars, put good time in them and drive smart."

Brian entered his first destruction derby in 1989.

"I go because it's fun," he said. "I love to go fast and hit hard. I love to win too."

Holt has won 17 times in 16 years. He's placed first twice at the Stanislaus County Fair.

"I've won a few derbies," he said. "Everyone I win is just as exciting as the first one."

Neto, 24, competed for the third year in a row. He drove a black 1973 Lincoln Continental.

"This is the best year I have had so far," said Neto, who moved to Ceres in October. He was born and raised in Turlock.

In the second preliminary heat, Neto got a flat tire and couldn't go anywhere.

"I didn't have any traction," he said.

"I put new tires on and came back out for the consolation. I did pretty well there. I got third place."

Neto didn't place in the finals.

"My linkage broke," he said. "I had a hard time shifting, going forward and back. Then my car died and my battery cable fried. I couldn't start it back up. I was pretty much done."

Neto prepared his car in 150 hours.

"I was working on it seven days a week for the last three weeks," he said. "I was putting in eight hours a day."

Terrill, 21, didn't make it past the consolation round. The second-year competitor drove a red 1974 Mercury Cougar.

"I wish I could have done a lot better," he said. "All of my friends were mad at me for getting hung up. But what could I do. Someone's bumper got caught between my tire and fender. I can't believe nobody hit me. I didn't put my flag out. I was a sitting duck."

Terrill hoisted a white flag out his window several minutes into preliminary heat three.

"My foot pedal broke," he said.

More than 200 hours of labor was put into preparing Terrill's vehicle.

"I built it by myself," he said. "There was a lot of work. When I got the car, the motor was stripped."

Cary, 33, piloted a black and green 1971 Chrysler Newport in the consolation and preliminary heats. He didn't place.

"That was my first time driving," he said. "My stomach was a little knotted up because I didn't know what to expect. After the first hit, that's when it all disappears."

In the consolation round, Cary's rear end got smashed. He also lost some throttle linkage.

"One of the officials was pointing at me," Cary said. "When he told me to get out, I thought something was wrong. I thought my car was on fire. I jumped on the hood and didn't see anything. I tried to get back in but they wouldn't let me. There was some confusion."

Cary's car stalled in the preliminary round.

"My gas line locked so I couldn't get any fuel to the motor," he said. "We had to go back in the pit and get it cleared out. Then it ran fine."

Randall, 24, was also a first-year competitor. He got his vehicle, a 1978 Lincoln Continental, from the Holt brothers.

"Right before the flag went down I was nervous," he said. "Once I started going it was a great experience.

"I did okay. I didn't make it into the finals."

Randall got tangled in the consolation round.

"I got hooked up with four other cars," he said. "I couldn't go nowhere."

In the third preliminary heat, Randall couldn't move after his bumper got lodged underneath his car.

"It got smashed in the front really bad," Randall said. "The radiator got put into the motor."

Randall and his crew worked on the black and white Lincoln Continental for five days. They finished it the day before the event.

"We'll be back next year," Cary said. - By DALE BUTLER / Staff reporter of the Ceres (Calif.) Courier