The annual demolition derby continues to be a big hit at the Manitoba Summer Fair.
Even after competing for 14 years, Shawn Gardner still keeps coming back for more.
"This is my 15th time competing in the demo at the Brandon fair," Gardner said Sunday. "I always watched as a kid and when I tried once I was hooked."
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This year’s demolition derby was dedicated to Jason Schaffer, the former president and owner of Accel Towing and Transport, who was also a longtime sponsor of the annual demolition derby.
Schaffer, 39, died in December 2013 while attempting to assist a stranded vehicle near Sidney, located approximately 70 kilometres east of Brandon.
"Jason was a huge part of why I got into demo derbies," Gardner said. "He helped me out a lot, especially at the beginning when I didn’t have much money."
Gardner’s car has been sponsored by Accel Towing for many years. This year, his car was decorated and dedicated to Schaffer.
Demolition derby chairperson Connie Bok explained that even before Accel Towing and Transport was a sponsor, Schaffer was always helping out.
"He has been a big supporter of the derby, from volunteering to sponsoring individual cars," Bok said. "He would always help the guys out when they needed it."
The first annual Jason Schaffer Best Dressed Award for the vehicle decorated the best was awarded to Kevin Price from Virden. This will be an annual trophy each year to remember Schaffer.
This award, along with the Mad Dog award for hardest hit, were judged by volunteers from the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Brandon.
The demo derby had 27 cars compete in four heats for a chance in the feature round.
"The prize for the feature winner is $1,500," Gardner said. "You also get to rub it in the faces of all the rest of the fair demo derby regulars."
Bok said that is a big reason why dedicating this year’s derby to Schaffer seemed like a fitting tribute.
"He had a big effect on all the local derby guys," Bok said. "Everybody’s feeling it and we wanted to do something for him and his family."
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