GREENFIELD — It was hot. It was muddy. And it was loud.
But local Demolition Derby driver Mitchell Giere wouldn’t have it any other way.
In the hilly pits located behind the Multipurpose Arena on Wednesday at the Hancock County 4-H Fairgrounds, Giere, 25, of Greenfield, stood by his car in pure excitement.
He knew this year was much different than the last. And so was the purse.
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“The payout is up,” Giere said with the derby still two hours away. “Last year it was $300, and this year it is $800.
“I put more time into this car than any other before it. It is one of the better ones I have.”
Originally from Ohio, Giere, who works as an engineer in Indianapolis, never missed a fair growing up. His passion quickly turned into skill at the age of 16, when he debuted in his first derby.
And he’s had success ever since.
Two years ago, Giere, who moved to Greenfield approximately four years ago, took first at the Hancock County Demolition Derby and won a purse of $300. Last season, he finished runner-up.
“We are looking to stay in the top three again,” Giere said. “I don’t know, though. With there being a lot more cars this year, it will be hard.”
The name Demolition Missions, which is proudly represented atop his car, actually comes from a website Giere created to help others build derby cars.
He starts by filming the purchase of the vehicle — typically at $400 or less — and shows viewers the complete process in flipping a car.
However, his bright green No. 00 car — his best of seven derby vehicles — came from his family.
It was the vehicle he and his three brothers and sisters learned to drive growing up.
And they were all in attendance on Wednesday to see it potentially survive one last run.
“They have to see what the old family car can still do,” Giere said, who is the only one in his intermediate family who participates in derbies. “I bought it off my dad for a couple hundred bucks.”
Derby season, according to Giere, runs between May and November, although there is usually just one race in the final month.
“I run all through the season,” Giere said, who last raced at the Rush County Fair just weeks ago. “The cars do much better when it is cold out.”
In order for a derby car to be legal, drivers must remove all glass, sweep the car clean of all dangerous materials and eliminate any protruding sharp metal — to name a few rules. And unlike the bigger car derbies, the smaller class, like the one run on Wednesday, requires no roll cage to be installed.
Drivers also have the option of putting their fuel tank and battery in the cab of the vehicle, which Giere believes is more safe.
Another key feature, noted by Giere, are the super-slim spare tires used on the back of the car.
“All the back tires need to do is roll,” Giere said. “The smaller they are, the harder it is to hit.
Josh Phares, 25, who graduated from Mt. Vernon High School, is serving his first year as a Committee Chairman for the Multipurpose Arena.
He said the derby — especially this year with the large payout — is the most popular event of the week.
“The bigger cars cost more to do,” Phares said. “With these (smaller ones), you can literally go to a junkyard and take the glass out, the battery out and put a fuel cell in, and you are good to go. You don’t have to be a mechanic to do this.
“This is usually the big event of the week.”
Giere’s website can be found at youtube.com/demolitionmissions.