The crowd of more than 3,500 at the Centralia Summerfest demolition derby on Sunday was energized for the entirety of the hourslong event, from starting races until the final derby.
But there was one clear victor over the crowd’s hearts, earning chants and screeches from all his new fans: 7-year-old William Arnhold, of Tacoma, who was known in the first-ever power wheels demolition derby for kids simply by the moniker “Spider-Man.”
As little ones in kid-sized cars bumped into one another repeatedly for the new competition, William was doing wheelies in his Spider-Man themed miniature Jeep, waving to the crowd and generally hamming it up. In this competition, a winner can’t be claimed in traditional derby fashion by waiting for the last vehicle still moving, so William was declared the winner simply for his beloved performance.
Even after the sun had set and the event was all wrapped up, “Spider-Man! Spider-Man!” chants could still be heard at the Southwest Washington Fairgrounds.
As for the real demolition derby, Josh Levine, 32, of Chehalis, was once again the winner, driving vehicle No. 88. Levine has been participating in derbies at the fairgrounds since he was 16, and has won more times than he can count.
“I watched my dad do it growing up,” Levine said. “I just got into it from that, and I just came out here and did it.”
His cash prize of $2,000 will go toward an upcoming vacation, he said. When he comes back, it will be time to start working on a new beater car for derbies.
“It feels great because I really could use it,” he said. “Makes the hard work pay off, that’s for sure.”
In the import derby, the final event before the big cars face off, Katie Rhodes, in vehicle 95, was victorious. In the ring going up against her was her father, also a longtime derby competitor.
The “best in show” award was given to the team of Brad Hunter, who has competed in derbies at the fairgrounds since age 13, for his American flag-painted car, topped with a white oil can that read, “BEER.”
Hunter is also one in a line of derby competitors, with his father before him, and a young Hunter entering the power wheels competition.
Luke Kilgore, of Chehalis, was the announcer for Sunday’s events, and said it was among his favorite announcing gigs of all time.
“This is the most energy that I get from any of my gigs. It gives me life. This is my thing, for sure,” Kilgore said. “This is really a show worth watching. We had a crazy turnout.”