Ceres' Greg Mathews had a forgettable outing during the first day of the 42nd Annual Turlock Lions Club Demolition Derby at the Stanislaus County Fair on July 17.
Mathews blew a timing chain on his 1976 Dodge Jamboree Motorhome as he pulled into FoodMaxx Arena.
"It backfired and stopped just before they dropped the green flag," he said. "It was really disappointing not being able to move and hit anybody. I was a sitting duck."
Greg earned a measure of redemption the second day on July 18 as he piloted his 1975 Dodge Little Champ Motorhome to a first-place finish.
He won $2,000.
"It's the greatest feeling in the world to come out on top," he said. "It's really satisfying."
Doug Mathews, Greg's older brother and a resident of Utah, took third.
He won $500.
Karlie Rosario, Greg's daughter and a resident of Beaumont, did not place.
The father-son tandem of Lloyd and Richard Gleaves, who are also longtime family friends of the Mathews, participated as well.
Lloyd and Richard reside in Ceres and Oakdale, respectively.
"The first night was super embarrassing," Greg said. "The second night was pretty exciting. I made a good run until the end. I was anxious to get started, make sure I could get that first hit and keep on going. I triple checked everything. I tried to use the back end more the first half of the derby. It was a hot night. I didn't want to damage my radiator. I used the front end at the end."
Bryce Mathews, Greg's younger brother and a resident of Gridley, pocketed $2,000 after outlasting all challengers during the first night.
Lloyd was awarded $1,000 for taking second.
Richard did not place.
The Mathews and Gleaves families built a total of nine motorhomes for this year's destruction derby.
"We spent the last four weeks getting them ready," Greg said. "It was pretty fatiguing. It was all worth it when we got done. We had a good time."
Greg made his debut at the Stanislaus County Fair Destruction Derby in 1993.
He placed first the first night and third the second night last summer.
Lloyd and Karlie took second and third, respectively, the first night.
Richard and Bryce finished 1-2 the second night.
"We're all planning on coming back next year," Greg said. "It's a good time whenever you can get together with family and friends. We're all competitive. We want to do well each time. It's fun to see debris fly off vehicles when you smash into them. It's a huge adrenaline rush. It doesn't go away for four to five hours."