“It’s going to get real loud, real fast!”
The public address announcer shouted that warning to a packed Action Sports Arena inside the Orange County Fair, where county police officers and firefighters were about to smash each other in the Motorhome Madness Demolition Derby on Friday night.
After 30 minutes of bashing and crashing, the RV commandeered by Tustin Police Chief Stu Greenberg was the only one of the RVs in the derby still able to move, albeit barely.
And as any fan of demolition derbies knows, the last man standing is the winner.
“I expected to be out first,” Greenberg said. “I thought these guys were going to kill me.”
The Tustin Chief was referring to his opponents, Costa Mesa Fire Chief Dan Stefano, Garden Grove Fire Chief TJ McGovern and Orange City Fire Chief Chris Boyd.
Greenberg, who was competing in his first ever demolition derby, studied film of demolition derbies from previous years, gleaning any sort of edge he could find.
“I was trying to bait them into me, fishtail it and then back into them,” Greenberg said.
The chief did most of his damage to opponents by rolling in reverse and plowing into their RVs with the back end of his vehicle, thereby keeping his engine and radiator on the front end intact.
“Of course he won,” said the Chief’s son, Steve Greenberg, who is an Orange County Sheriff’s deputy. “He’s good at everything he does.”
Greenberg spent more than 30 years with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department before taking over as Chief of Tustin P.D. in January.
Plenty of supporters from both agencies were on hand cheering the chief on, including Tustin P.D. top brass.
“I love those people … all 4,000 of them,” Greenberg said of his former OCSD colleagues. “I never thought I’d find it again, but I found it in Tustin. I got lucky twice.”
Orange Police Chief Tom Kisela also rooted for Greenberg in the arena.
Greenberg said the demolition derby elevates the friendly rivalry between police officers and firefighters to a new level.
“The big thing is, besides all the fun and everything else, it’s for a good cause,” said Greenberg, who raised money for the Tustin Police Foundation.
Having 30-plus years on the job, Greenberg said there weren’t relatable driving stories to the demolition derby experience.
“In a police car, we’ve got to be safe,” Greenberg said. “We’ve got to take care of our partners. We’ve got to take care of the public and even somebody we’re chasing. We’ve got to make them safe too, as best we can. Here, we just let it all hang loose.”