by Eric Oslund
Demolition derby is in the blood of Jared Brown. His grandpa first started competing in the sport in the 1950’s, and carried the love of mud, bent metal, and pure chaos on down through the generations.
The 17-year-old Buffalo native has been attending the Sherburne County Fair since the late 1990’s with his father and siblings. Originally, he was just there to help promote the demolition derby, but he has been competing in it now since 2015 – though his first year was in the youth class.
To those in the grand stands, the 2017 derby may have seemed like any of the others that have taken place over years, but to Brown it was a special.
It was the first time he and his girlfriend Brittany Hausladen, 18, got to compete against each other.
She grew up around cars all her life, but really got interested in demolition derby once she started hanging around the Brown residence a little more. They eventually built her a car of her own, and then a year ago she competed in her first competition, a powder-puff league where girls would go up against one another.
But this year, she wanted to go up against the boys, likely as a way to take a couple shots at her boyfriend.
“It’s definitely entertaining,” Brown said with a laugh when asked about what it’s like to compete with his girlfriend. “We joke around about hitting each other, which it actually did happen quite a few times on Sunday. I’d just say it’s fun. Having her be around to help on my cars and then finally having her own car to work on too, it’s been fun.”
Hausladen ended up taking fifth in the compact class, while Bown finished second and also took home the Mad Dog Award – the award given to the most aggressive drive.
He said his goal of every race is always to be named Mad Dog, and then any other trophies or earnings he wins is just a nice bonus. It’s a mindset that he gets from his father and grandfather. That win or lose, you try your hardest to give the fans a great show.
But this year, as he gripped his wheel and revved his engine before the chaos ensued, he knew he wanted the Mad Dog Award more than ever, as it carried a little extra meeting.
Brown was driving the car of a friend who had died, and wanted to be able to do right by him. To win that award and honor his friend one last time.
“My car, it was kind of a big deal for a bunch of us around here because one of our close friends passed away really soon last year at 23,” he said. “That was his car and it meant a lot to me to get to actually get to run that.
“Just the fact that getting that trophy after, and getting a Mad Dog trophy, that’s all I came here to do with his car. Try to get Mad Dog, and I got it, so I was really happy with that. That meant a lot to me.”
Brown drove with a memorial sticker on the driver-side door and when he was being awarded for best paint job, he made sure to face that sticker out towards the grand stands where the family of his lost friend was sitting – coming out to see their loved one’s car get driven one last time.