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p A collection of derby trophies sit on a counter in the shop. t Matt Donelson and Tony Passini discuss plans for Donelson’s 2001 Lincoln Town Car in Passini’s shop in rural Hennepin. Donelson’s dog, Ash, relaxes in the background. son Adam that it’s time to go take a shower and put on his pajamas. There are usually anywhere from three to five classes at each derby. Both guys compete in the Open Wire Class, meaning there is no limit to the 9-gage wire a participant can use on his car. For example, the wire can be used to tie the trunk closed or secure parts. They both hope to step up to a Weld Class, which includes more fabrication and a bigger investment in time and money. Passini estimates having about $8,000 tied up in his car. “You’re not only out there wrecking a car. There’s a technique to it. We do something that doesn’t work, we aren’t gonna do it again. There’s a lot of secrets,” Passini said of learning from each derby and finding advantages within the rules. It’s the wrecks that seem to be a big draw for spectators. “That’s one of our biggest Starved Rock Country

crowds that night, and they come from all over,” said Mary Jane Spinazola, La Salle County Junior Fair Board member, of the annual demolition derby at the La Salle County 4-H Fair in Ottawa. “All the crashes, they love to see. And we spray the track so mud flies everywhere. It’s just the adrenaline rush. It’s just so much fun to watch them.”  Fresh from his shower, Adam clomps back into the shop with his space-themed pajama pants shoved into thick rubber boots. He’s excited to show off some of the trophies he’s added to the collection in the shop. Adam has competed in Power Wheels demolition derbies for kids. “I like when they crash,” Adam said through a smile that reached his eyes when asked what he likes about demolition derby.  Passini said with a bit of a chuckle, “The whole goal is to be in it at the end, but I’m not S R very good at it.” C

g Fetchin’s Frieda

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Starved Rock Country Magazine_Summer 2019  

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