The Stanislaus County Fair will stage this year’s destruction-derby contests on Monday and Tuesday instead of Friday and Saturday.
The schedule change will allow Greg Mathews of Ceres to start competing once again in Turlock.
“I’m really excited about getting back in the driver’s seat,” said 55-year-old Mathews. “I haven’t done it in four years. I had to stop for religious reasons.”
Mathews has competed in the majority of Stanislaus County Fair’s destruction derbies since 1993.
He was a spectator from 2011-14. Derby contests were staged on Fridays and Saturdays in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
“I couldn’t compete because I’m a Seventh-day Adventist,” said Greg, who’s required to honor the Sabbath from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset.
Greg will drive a 1976 Dodge Tioga during the first night of Destruction Derby at the Stanislaus County Fair.
“I got mine from a church member,” Greg said. “It was running and driving. I had to rebuild the carburetor and tune it up.”
Brother Bryce Mathews, 50, of Gridley will be driving a 1975 Doge Tioga.
Bryce got his motor home from the backyard of a house foreclosure.
Greg’s and Bryce’s motor homes are both 18-feet long.
Greg’s friend, 59-year-old Lloyd Gleaves of Ceres, will make his destruction-derby debut.
He’ll drive a 22-foot-long Dodge.
Greg, Bryce and Lloyd started preparing their motor homes for today’s destruction-derby competition in June.
“We averaged three hours a day, three or four days a week,” Greg said. “We removed windows and carpeting during the school year.”
Greg finished painting his vehicle black and Kawasaki green on Saturday.
“It’s a little different,” Greg said while talking about prep work that’s required for motor homes. “There’s no front end, just the window. You have to put protective bars behind you and in front of you. You have to have a safety cage around you.”
Greg, Bryce and Lloyd will not be able to rely on past experiences during Monday’s 7 p.m. competition because they’re newcomers to motor-home demolition derbies.
“We watched it last year in Turlock,” Greg said. “It was the first time they offered it. We’ve never done it (motor homes) before. We’re just going out there to have a good time. It’s exciting seeing how long everything will last. Sometimes when the back breaks open, toilets, sinks, stoves and heaters fly out.”
Mathews broke his right hand teaching gymnastics at Central Valley Christian Academy during the 2014-15 school year.
When asked if he was nervous about the forthcoming new experience, Greg said, “Not yet. I’ll probably have a few butterflies the day of the derby. I just got my cast off.”