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Women drivers prove they can wreck & roll

Published Aug 23rd 2006, 10:19pm by Jody DeVere in Pressroom Articles

Image_generatorasp By JOHN GOODALL Tribune Chronicle

BAZETTA — Sheila Griffeth has heard it all and more about female drivers having the edge in demolition derby because they crash into everything.

That’s OK, she said. She gives it back to the guys in a good-natured fashion that is equally politically incorrect —and unprintable.

Griffeth, 35, has been driving in the events for eight years.

‘‘There’s no words to explain it,’’ she said of the lure of demolition derby. ‘‘I just think that everyone should do it.’’

The Johnson woman stripped down her big 1973 Lincoln Continental herself and rebuilt it for the rigors of the event’s collisions. She’s been around vehicle competition since she was a child. Her father was a race car driver.

A friend, Tommy Dorsey, who has been driving for years, got Griffeth started in demolition derby. In turn, she convinced Dorsey’s wife, Tina, to try it.

Griffeth denies that the guys give opponents of the other sex a break because they are women.

‘‘Nope, not at all,’’ she said. ‘‘We’re usually the first targets.’’

John Kost of Cortland, who was running in Sunday’s derby at the Trumbull County Fair, doubts that.

‘‘When you go out on the track, you don’t even pay attention to who’s in what car,’’ Kost, 35, said. ‘‘There’s too much action happening all around you.’’

He’s a believer in everyone getting a chance to compete. ‘‘It’s a lot of fun,’’ Kost said.

Chastity Lough, 33, of Warren, was the first driver knocked out of Sunday’s event. Her gas tank, which is placed in the interior of the car for protection, sprung a severe leak.

‘‘One spark, I could have been blown up,’’ she said after taking off her gear for the night.

Lough said she has been driving for six years. She loves the excitement of being able to smash into cars legally, the Warren woman said.

Once, though, she got her dander up.

‘‘I saw, ‘It’s a man’s sport,’ painted on the back bumper of a car,’’ she laughed. ‘‘That pissed me off.’’

Not every woman around the competition approaches it with aggressiveness. Sandy Holliday, 33, of Warren was supposed to participate Sunday, but backed out at the last moment.

She said she was intimidated by the number of large station wagons in the event.

‘‘Plus, the helmet wouldn’t go over my head,’’ the mild-mannered non-competitor said with a shrug. 

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