SPORTS ENTERTAINMENT: Sequim man saves the show

PORT ANGELES — Dennis Sutton may have spent Saturday morning on the couch, but he was the hero the night before at Port Angeles Speedway.

The 31-year-old Sequim resident went from supporting star to main attraction in a matter of minutes at Friday night’s Auto Daredevil Thrill Show.

Filling in for an injured Tyler Moore, Sutton performed the show’s grand finale to perfection, launching a beat-up 1978 Dodge four door over the speedway’s infield pit shack for a 120-foot jump that broke a track record.

After landing his car just right of the “catch cars” and rolling to a stop, Sutton climbed out and slammed his helmet against the roof three times in celebration.

The gathered crowd roared as he stood on the roof, rose his hands to the air and drank in the ovation.

“Indescribable, it was great,” Sutton said.

“I don’t even know how to explain it. It was just a big rush. It’s not every day you get to do something like that.

“That was not on my agenda [today].”

Sutton didn’t even know he was going to perform the stunt until almost two thirds of the way through the show.

That was when the original driver, Moore, broke his ankle after crashing into a ramp during his second slide for life stunt of the evening.

Needing someone to fill in for the biggest stunt of the night, show coordinator Bob Hanna turned to Sutton.

“[Hanna said], ‘Well you want to do this?’ Because he knew I did,” Sutton said.

“I had to talk to my wife and kids first. She said the couch would be made for me when I get home.”

With minimal preparation, Sutton went for it.

The Sequim native and Olympic Peninsula Eagles semipro football player made a few of runs around the track at first as Hanna gave him a quick tutorial from the passenger seat.

Sutton’s car actually died a couple of times before he made the final approach.

Then, after the third time around the track, Sutton finally zipped through the infield and up the ramp and soared over the pit shack as pyrotechnics blasted around him.

“At first things run through your head [about what might happen if things go wrong]. You just push it all away,” said Sutton, who also performed a car rollover, Domino Crash and two motorcycle firewalls.

“I remember hitting the ramp, and then by the time I got to the top of the ramp I was looking at the back of my eyelids.

“By the time I got them open, I landed on the first set of cars on the back side of the van, and floated off to the right.

“It was actually a lot smoother than I anticipated.”

Hanna has seen this story play out before.

The stunt show veteran of more than 50 years said he got his big break when one of the daredevils in front of him was injured.

“That’s how I got to the top a long time ago,” Hanna said. “Was I apprehensive? Yeah.

“[Sutton’s jump] was beautiful. He listened to the instructions, he kept his head and he did exactly what he was supposed to do. And the car just flew.”

Hanna’s show lasted for nearly three hours Friday, partly because of Moore’s injury, which required an ambulance to take the 26-year-old Sequim resident off the track.

Moore had already performed the Outlaw T-bone and another slide for life prior to his injury that night.

“It was a pretty serious break,” Hanna said.

“It’s one of those thing where you expect something is going to happen but you never expect it to happen to you.”

Former Port Angeles High School state champion wrestler John Camp also gave fans a show, winning the car rollover contest.

The husky former heavyweight flipped his car on its roof three times before it finally died. Sutton was only able to do that once.

“That was really fun,” Camp said.

“Me and my girlfriend rolled a car the week of sub regionals [for wrestling], and I didn’t get hurt.

“It was fun, you know. So why not try it again?”

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