FALLBROOK – Fallbrook/Bonsall Village News correspondent Joe Naiman finished second in the media demolition derby June 23 at the San Diego County Fair.
The finish was the highest ever for Naiman, who had driven in six previous media demolition derbies. He finished third in his first demolition derby in 2006 but had not matched or bettered that finish until this year.
Based on past demolition derbies Naiman began this year’s contest with a feeling he would do well. This year he drove a 2002 Cadillac DeVille, and he drove a Cadillac Eldorado in his previous best showing. Naiman had driven an Acura, a Nissan, a Ford, a Dodge, and a Buick in his other five demolition derbies.
Allan Naiman also drove in this year’s demolition derby, and Joe Naiman was aware that the only other time the Village News had siblings driving was in 2011 when Andrea Verdin took first place.
Joe was unable to attend the fair’s media party and sign up for the derby, but let fair media coordinator Elaine Alvillar know that he would bring his helmet June 23 and would be available to drive in the event of a cancellation. Alvillar responded that she would include him in the demolition derby.
On June 22, Alvillar notified Joe that there had been cancellations and asked if his brother, Allan, was available to drive. Joe’s response was that Allan could drive if a helmet was provided.
The June 23 demolition derbies also included a Demolition Derby to Crush Cancer, which raised funds for the American Cancer Society. Bob McGinty, who was in the Demolition Derby to Crush Cancer, loaned Allan his helmet. McGinty would win that derby.
“I didn’t win. My helmet did,” said Allan.
Joe acquired his own helmet last year and used it for the 2015 media demolition derby, but the face shield fogged up and Joe had trouble seeing other vehicles clearly to determine what he should or shouldn’t hit (demolition derby rules prohibit hitting the driver’s side door). This year he drove with the face shield up.
Allan drove a Honda Accord whose year is unknown but whose manual odometer reading was 187,317 miles. (The key in the DeVille informed Joe of his car’s year; the Cadillac’s digital odometer read 163,992 miles.) Allan, who is three years younger than Joe, drove two Perris Auto Speedway races in the Cruiser class in 2006 but had not crashed a car since then.
The cancellations also allowed members of the San Diego County Fair staff to drive. The media demolition derby winner, Ryan Simon, works in the fair’s marketing department. Simon drove a 2001 Volvo 340.
The county fair’s theme this year was “Mad About the Fair” and paid tribute to Alice in Wonderland. The Lewis Carroll story included a bottle with the words “Drink me” which shrunk Alice and a cake which said “Eat me” which made Alice grow, and throughout the fair food and beverage vendors had “Drink me” and “Eat me” signs. Joe painted “Hit me” on the passenger side of the Cadillac, which was the area of the car least likely to impair operations if it was hit.
Joe also painted “Lloyd – we miss you” on the trunk. Lloyd Massey worked for WGAS Motorsports, which supplies the cars and officiates the media demolition derby, and was killed in March when he was crossing a Northern California road and was hit by a car.
Jordan Verdin had been the initial Village News representative in 2011, when he was one of the Village News photographers, but his sister was present and became a driver after a cancellation. Andrea Verdin, who began writing for the Village News in 2008, made contact with her brother’s car during the event and subsequently addressed that activity with the words: “It’s no mercy, even if it’s your sibling”.
The Naiman brothers had referenced Verdin’s comment prior to the start of the 2016 derby. Allan put the comment into action when he backed into his brother’s car.
“I was thinking that,” Allan said. “And I was thinking that when you backed into me.”
That collision in which Allan backed into Joe removed the rear bumper of the Accord, although the Cadillac’s front bumper remained intact.
Joe Naiman and Simon had the final two running cars. When he first started the car, Joe knew he could ignore the “Service engine soon” indicator light as well as the “Check gas cap” light. During the demolition derby the “Engine coolant hot; idle engine” indicator was displayed; Joe shut down and restarted the engine to eliminate that indicator display. Eventually steam from the Cadillac’s radiator minimized cooling of the engine. The Cadillac’s dashboard displayed the “Engine overheated; stop engine” indicator, and shortly afterward he was no longer able to maneuver the car.
Simon was also losing mobility in the Volvo. The track announcer began a countdown from 10 to conclude the event. Simon was able to move his Volvo during the countdown while Naiman was not able to reposition the Cadillac.