Erin Krause stood atop the berm, hands on her hips, and surveyed the damage in front of her Wednesday at the Washington County Fairgrounds.
“I think these cars are done,” said the eldest of the three Krause demolition derby sisters. “So, we're probably going to take them to the scrapyard and start over next year.”
All three Arlington sisters — Erin, Elly and Emma — wound up in the same five-car pileup at the close of the 2019 Olsen Auto Demolition Derby. Their father, Paul Krause, had his orange derby car finished off earlier on during the top-and-start 80s Class Feature that book-ended not only the derby, but also the county fair.
Truly, the final car battle was a slog to get through. There was a long pause early on to breakup a jam before the red flags came twice more to remove a wayward tire and then a bumper from the arena.
The final pause in the action was to separate the last two cars left in the hunt — the No. 20 car driven by Dylan Koranda and the No. 14 car of Cody Koranda. When that happened, the packed, hometown crowd at the fairgrounds loudly called for the five-car pileup — with three Krause vehicles in it — to be broken up, too.
“I don't know,” Erin said. “That didn't really make sense to me.”
The eventual winner, Dylan Koranda, joined Josh Turner of Geneva and Scott Mulder of Boyden, Iowa, as the night's top money earners. Turner won the Weld Class bout in the No. 43J car, while Mulder won the show-stealing 90s Class Feature.
“It sounded like they liked what they seen,” the 90s champ said of the crowd. “That makes me feel good.”
That smoky bout came down to Mulder's car and No. 53T, Fremont driver Tanner Dowty.
“It was not running quite the way I wanted it to,” the former said of his No. 77 machine. “But it was just enough to get it done.”
The top dog had to work hard to get in one last hit, having had his engine shut down just before he made contact multiple times.
“It started well, right? But as soon as I started to floor it, it would cut out,” Mulder said. “So, that last big hit, I was actually able to make a darn good hit because I didn't put it all the way to the floor.”
In the same 90s Class finale, Fort Calhoun driver Jesse Hirchert, 18, finished up his derby debut. Earlier in the night, he'd made a prediction for his No. 11 car.
“It's going to blow up,” he'd noted in the pit area with several of his friends leaning on, and writing on his car in permanent marker. “They're all just buddies of mine that like doing stupid stuff.”
Hirchert's car didn't make it into the money on his first try, but he did say he “loved” the experience.
The same could be said for Erin Krause, who looked out over the mangled metal at the end of the night.
“We took pretty bad beatings,” she said. “It was a lot of work, but it was worth it.”