Demolition derby racers got a surprise after their compact car class feature at the Crow Wing County Fairgrounds Sept. 27.
Finishing third among the 18 competitors was a 16-year-old Brainerd High School sophomore Krissy Brandt.
"The guys didn't know I was a girl until I hopped out of the car and they were all like, 'Whoa, that's a girl,'" Brandt said as she worked on homework at her home last week.
Her mother, Cheri, said some drivers shook Krissy's hand after the feature.
"They were so surprised that she was a girl, a little girl to them," Cheri said.
Cheri also was surprised that Krissy, who is in choir, enjoys reading and math, competed in the Central Minnesota Invitational Demo Derby.
"I still can't believe it," Cheri said.
Either can Greg Juaire, Krissy's boyfriend.
"She's like the quiet one that sits and reads books in class," he said.
Krissy's motivation came after watching the 16-year-old Juaire compete in his first demolition derby at the Crow Wing County Fair in August. He placed second in the compact feature.
She said her adrenaline flowed while watching the cars crash. But what impressed her most was a demolition derby could allow her to take out her aggression.
Being a female in a male-dominated sport also helped.
"I felt special because I was young and because girls usually don't do demo derbies," she said.
Juaire, whose father and uncles have competed in demo derbies for several years, assisted Krissy with her task.
Her car, a 1987 Chevrolet Cavalier, was purchased by Juaire. It belonged to a friend of his who wanted to compete in demolition derbies but lost interest.
Juaire also offered some advice -- don't hit the driver's door of the other racers (a racer could be disqualified for purposely doing this), hit the soft spot of the cars, try to break the axles of the other cars, try not to hit a car head-on (this could damage her car), stay away from ditches and don't press the brake when you're ready to crash into another car.
When it came time for her heat race, all the advice could have fallen off like a bumper from a car after being smashed. She said, with a shake of her head, that she was scared.
Krissy was determined. She told Juaire if she changed her mind, to "throw her in the car, buckle her up, start the car and put it in gear."
Juaire said at one time she was hit in the passenger door by a racer at full speed and nearly folded her car in half.
In the feature, Krissy became more comfortable.
"I had a lot of adrenaline so I just floored it the whole time," she said.
Juaire said he became nervous when the other racers began to try to take her out.
Cheri was surprised how many times Krissy's car would stall but start again. She said when Krissy's car started again, about 20 relatives and friends sitting in the same area of the bleachers "just screamed."
Krissy's night ended when her car's battery came unbolted and tipped over.
She was happy with finishing third.
"I was praying for my car to break down just to get it over with," she said. "I was just like, 'Please, let me lose.' I'm happy with third. The car just wouldn't quit and they wouldn't stop hitting me. Finally, it did. I was like, 'Ahhh, yeah.'"
Krissy would like to compete in more demo derbies. And, it could happen. The four-cylinder engine from her demolished car still runs.
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