A JOHN Deere 8820 named MEAT has smashed its rivals to take out Australia’s only header demolition derby.
Witnessed by more than 10,000 people at the Diesel and Dirt Derby in Keith, South Australia, Simon Nuske came out on top in the field of 18.
Nuske, pictured below, and his mate Stuart Walker began beefing up MEAT two years ago and entered it in the Keith event last year but just missed out on the prize.
While MEAT is fairly banged up after the 20-minute ordeal Nuske, from Horsham in Victoria, says he will knock out the dings and return to defend his crown next year.
But some of the headers in the derby have no doubt danced for the last time.
Several tyres burst, fuel leaks spurted and one machine was T-boned onto its head.
As one of the day’s last events, the demolition derby was a fitting finale to a classic country event that celebrated almost everything with an engine.
The Keith Diesel and Dirt Derby, which has grown in popularity every year since it began as a fundraiser for the Keith Show in 2012, also includes lawnmower races, Centurion tank demonstration, motocross and an air display. The tractor pull event was run as a championship round of the Australian Tractor Pullers Association.
This year’s derby in the small country town on the road to Melbourne about 250km southeast of Adelaide also hosted Round 2 of the Australian Formula Jet Sprint Association season, helping it achieve a record crowd of 10,100 – almost 10 times Keith’s population.
It was the first time the series had raced in South Australia since the 1990s when events were held at Currency Creek.
A technically difficult and unfamiliar inland layout led to a number of thrills and spills as teams attempted to master the new track. Victorian Tremayne Jukes took out the Unlimited Class title in his boat Maniac ahead of four-time Australian Champion Phonsy Mullan while Ben Hathaway won the 400 Class.
Australian Formula Jet Sprint Association president Grant Bourke said it was a highly successful return to racing in South Australia.
He said the association would look to hold two rounds of the championship in Keith next season.
Keith Diesel and Dirt Derby president Glen Simpson said the track would be further improved for next year with the planting of grass on spectator mounds and the possible addition of lights to allow for night racing.
He said this year’s event and the official crowd figure of 10,100 exceeded expectations.
“We wanted 5000-6000 to make our money back and get us back on our feet,” Simpson said.
“So this is really going to put some money in our coffers to tidy up the track a bit and build some more toilets.
“We really gave ourselves a challenge this year, building a jet boat track from scratch in a few months, but we did it and the jet boat association members are absolutely thrilled that we have put together such a good facility – the only one in South Australia.
“I’m considering an air show over the top at some stage but that’s just an idea.”