Braun goes on to win, but he seems troubled by the victory—and not because he and Jeanelle, who took third, just junked $2,500 worth of cars to win $1,450. "I got the fun took out of it," he says, looking weary and feeling sad about his lost friendship with Zizelman. "It's not worth it anymore. Tell you the truth, I had a lot more fun yesterday" doing doughnuts with Jeanelle and drinking beer with her and his derby buddies.
The Brauns are a tight derbying family: Their two boys add Tinkertoy wheels to cereal boxes and derby on the kitchen table; Jeanelle has bought Trent a truck radiator and a crash helmet for Christmas; and for their 10th wedding anniversary, the couple took their kids to the Wapakoneta derby.
But while derbying may be a poor man's sport, as Zizelman says, it's not cheap. It takes time, it frequently inspires obsession, and its pursuit can take you far from home in the company of beer. "You're either with these guys like I am," Jeanelle says, "or you're divorced."
After Trent wins the Mercer County derby, Jeanelle does not share her husband's tragic-hero routine. She knows that when friends come to visit, from now until the next county fair, she and Trent will stick this year's derby tapes in the video, and the thrill of victory will continue in their happy home. Her dad, who's been off work for a year with a pinched nerve, got a painkilling injection just to come see her derby. He's sitting in the stands, and she's ready to celebrate. With all the engines shut off, her holler is the loudest thing around. "I can't believe it!" she says as the salvage-yard tow trucks start to work. "I'm so proud of myself!"