Ceres' Greg Mathews bested all challengers while finishing first overall during the Stanislaus County Fair's Motor Home Class C Demolition Derby on July 11 in Turlock.
"You're a little nervous before it starts," he said. "It's a huge adrenaline rush when you make that first hit. I got a lot of big hits on the opponents."
The competition featured six participants, including Greg, his daughter Karlie, his older brother Doug and longtime family friend Lloyd Gleaves.
"We enjoy competing and having fun," Greg said. "And earning bragging rights."
Greg won $2,500 for winning the competition.
Lloyd ($1,000) and Karlie ($500) placed second and third, respectively.
"We tried to knock out the other competition first before going after each other," Greg said. "You try to hit certain spots so you disable their vehicles without damaging yours."
Greg, 56, drove a 1976 Dodge Tioga.
Lloyd (60) of Ceres piloted a 1975 Dodge Ideal.
Karlie (31) of Beaumont piloted a 1973 Dodge Roadrunner.
Doug (57) of Utah piloted a 1977 Dodge Itasca.
Greg laughed while describing the scene inside the pit at Food Maxx Arena following the crowd-favorite competition.
The motor homes weren't created in their heydays to be wrecked.
Previous owners used the RVs for traveling and camping.
"At one time, somebody spent $20,000 to $25,000 on the vehicle," Greg said. "Now, it's reduced to a pile of rubble. My front bumper was pushed in so far the radiator was wrapped around the engine. There was nothing left, just the cab and flat bad. My brother hit me and tore the whole back off. My neck's still sore from that."
Greg outlasted Lloyd.
"My engine was running fine," said Gleaves, a second-year participant. "My steering broke. I went straight into the wall. I like being able to hit things without consequence. I'll keep doing this for as long as I have the money and health to do it. We have 13 motor homes ready to prepare for next year."
Karlie, who recently moved back to California from Hawaii, last competed at the Stanislaus Destruction Derby in 2011.
"She was a little nervous about getting back out there," Greg said. "I'm really competitive. I don't cut her any slack. I'll take her out just like anybody else."
"People say we're crazy for doing it," Gleaves said. "But they come watch and enjoy it. I had a great time. It's a huge adrenaline rush. It's like skydiving."
Richard Gleaves, Lloyd's son, competed during the second night of Destruction Derby at the Stanislaus County Fair on July 12.
Richard (34) piloted his 1978 Dodge Econoline to a first-place finish.
He won $2,500.
Bryce Mathews, Greg's younger brother, pocketed $1,000.
Bryce (57) of Gridley placed second.
He drove a 1974 Dodge Itasca.
Greg took third.
He drove a 1977 Dodge Field & Stream.
He also won $1,000.
"We'll take the money and put it back into buying parts and motor homes for next year," Greg said "We enjoy racing. Just getting together with all of the family members is a good time. There's a lot of trash talking."