Steve Pollard of Westminster isn't one you would expect to participate in the crash-'em-and-bang-'em-up type of motor sports.
His job as minister at the Westminster Church of the Nazarene requires long hours, and he usually works right up to race time.
But he is a regular participant in demolition derbys at Arcadia and Kingsdale, Pa., and now he has caught the bug for Junk-Yard Races, a cross between a demolition derby and an enduro race.
Last Sunday, more than 60 cars, including Pollard's, were entered in the Junk-Yard Race at Trail-Way Speedway in Hanover, Pa., despite sub-freezing weather.
Pollard's congregation did not have to worry about a long sermon. As soon as the service was over, Pollard, 40, slipped into his office and changed into old clothes. He grabbed his coat and helmet and after a few handshakes --ed off to the track where Joe Prince had a old Chevrolet Chevelle station wagon waiting for him.
"They had their first race last June and we went and watched," recalled Pollard. "It was pretty neat. It was something new. No one knew what to expect or what was going on. They made rules as they went along."
Pollard entered the next race in August and was one of the last five cars eliminated. He enjoyed it so much he returned last Sunday.
"I really enjoy it," said Pollard. "When you are dealing with everyday situations, working with people and making decisions that affect their lives, it is good to get out there and do something in which it really doesn't matter what you do or how you do it."
Pollard did well in the heat event. He drove hard with Prince as a passenger and almost won when the car in front of him stopped. But because the old wagon was retired from normal passenger service, the pressure Pollard put on it took its toll.
Following the heats, all 60 cars were lined up three abreast for the feature, an oval track demolition derby. As the cars circle the track, the drivers try and put one another out. The last car running wins.
"A third of the people are out there to win," Pollard said. "They even put money into their car. They are real serious. A third are out there to crash and bang. They're out there to tear up some equipment. They race over the bumps in the infield like they're Dukes of Hazzard. That's OK.
"Then the remaining third, they are out there to have fun, to relieve stress. They don't care what happens. That's the category I fall in.
"So far it has been inexpensive. We normally get the car for nothing, put gas in it and when we are done we take it back to the junkyard for salvage and the money normally covers the expense. If we make any money, we give it to the church."
Pollard had placed in the money in demolition derbys and looked as if he would do it last Sunday, but midway through the race the car began to falter.
The hard heat racing took its toll and after making all the sounds of a motor about to blow, Pollard's car rolled to a stop, two-thirds though the race. He was done for the day.
Pollard was called to take over the pastoral duties at the Westminster church a little over two years ago from Chesapeake, Va., with his wife, Doris, and children, Matthew, 17, Sabrena, 12, and Amanda, 8.
"The church had a lot of young people with a lot of vitality and energy. It is a church where children are important," he said.
His church provides several programs for young people, and many of them help prepare the cars for the races. It gives them something to be a part of. Members of the church often attend the races to cheer on Pollard. Last Sunday several braved the cold to enjoy the event.
After the race, Pollard returned to the church in time for his evening fellowship service.
Results and awards
In round five of the Slick 50 Sprint Car World Series at Canyon Raceway in Peroia, Ariz., last Sunday Jeff Shepard of Finksburg finished 18th among the 58 of the top sprint car drivers in the country who competed.
* The Hagerstown Speedway conducted its annual awards banquet last week. Gary Stuhler of Westminster finished sixth in the late-model point standings and was the leading feature winner with 11 wins. Stuhler led all late-model drivers in the Northeast with 25 feature wins and will be honored on Jan. 22 at the Miller Motorsports Show in Valley Forge, Pa.
Mike Harrison of Mount Airy was the top finishing rookie in the late-model division and was named the 1993 Rookie of the Year.
* Mike Devilbliss of Westminster placed fourth in the super-stock lite and fifth in the super-stock heavy in go-kart action at the Keystone Classic in Harrisburg, Pa. Wayne Karcher of Upperco finished fourth in the Yamaha Light Division.