Father takes part in derby against son to honor dying grandfather


Son competes in derby against father to honor dying grandfather

Jim Sivil was a member of a mutilating offensive line that led Jefferson to a state football championship in 1994.

As a reward, his parents – Big Jim and Leanora – gave him a 1979 Cadillac.

He quickly got out and smashed it in the demolition derby at the Monroe County Fair.

“I drove him on the road for about two weeks and then put him in the derby,” he recalls.

That was the car’s intention from the start, but Big Jim never quite got the plan.

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“He said it was a waste of money doing this,” Jim said.

Jim invested more money in a derby car this year. He also helped his 14 year old son, Joey, build one.

But he will not consider any of this to be wasted money.

“It’s all about daddy,” he said.

Big Jim is fighting cancer. He only has a few weeks left to live.

“I took him to his last doctor’s appointment,” Jim said. “The doctor said there was no point in continuing the treatment. I asked him to fire him for me. “How much time does he have left?” He said, ‘I would say 90 days, give or take.’ “

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It has been a difficult time for the Sivil family. Leanora died of cancer in March.

“I watched my wife fight for eight years and took care of her,” Big Jim said. “Now I have it.”

When Jim looked for a way to honor the man who meant so much in his life, his spirit kept returning to the derby.

“He was there for me from day one,” Jim said. “He got me into the derby when I was a little boy years and years ago. He helped me with a bit of everything and money for nuts and bolts. And my mom always painted my cars.

So Jim decided that a fitting tribute would be to let his father watch him drive in the derby once more.

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“I haven’t done a derby for six or seven years,” Jim said.

Big Jim is going to feast even more.

Jim will race against his son. He and Joey will both be in the first round of the 6pm show at the Monroe County Fairgrounds tonight.

At 14, Joey is too young to compete in the derby.

But when the Sivils told their story to officials at the Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA), the derby’s governing body, special allowances were given.

The ARCA got a special derby insurance policy waiver to allow Joey to race.

“It’s kind of a capsule for my father’s legacy,” Jim said. “We’re going to take my dad to the track to watch his son and grandson hit each other. We hope this puts a smile on his face.

Joey couldn’t wait for a chance to follow in his father’s footsteps anyway.

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“I’ve wanted to do this for a while,” he says. “I kept asking my dad about this. I have watched it several times and have been there almost every year. I am really excited. “

And, more importantly, Big Jim is excited.

“I can’t wait to be there,” he said. “I’ll do whatever I can while I can.”

The Sivils already have quite a few fans.

When Joey was cleared for the derby he started posting videos of his car to his Tic Tok account (@joesivil) and his follower count soared to over 7,000.

“I’ve been doing this for a while,” said Joey, who will be in first grade at Dundee High School this fall. “When I got the car I made a video and posted it along with a bunch of pictures. It really took off when I posted a video of me and my dad working on it. .

He hopes his grandfather is proud.

“My grandfather didn’t really say anything, but I know he wants to come see his son and grandson drive against each other,” he said.

Father and son promise not to fire punches.

“I could give it a little kick or two,” Joey said with a chuckle.

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Jim would expect nothing less.

“It’s a competitive world out there,” Jim, a Star Towing driver, told Monroe. “You don’t aim to invite a family member or friend to the county fair, but you expect them to hit you hard and you have to hit them hard. “

Even your 14 year old son.

“I am in the business of raising men,” he said. “You are going to get fucked hard in the world. None of this feels good. You have to get used to it.

“He better have his seat belt tight.”

Jim and Joey will appreciate it. The night may not be all that fun for Christi Rogers, Joey’s mom.

“When I was married to his father, when someone hit him in the derby, I had a stomach ache,” she said. “They better have a doggy bag ready for mom.”

Fear and apprehension will be just two of the emotions of the Sivil family tonight.

“I would venture to assume that there will be a lot of wet eyes,” Jim said.

Even today, Jim is learning life lessons from his father. He was amazed at how Big Jim handled the adversity he has faced in recent months.

“My father has always been a humble man,” he said. “If someone gave him a compliment, he would just nod his head and say, ‘Thank you’. He never made much of himself. He never complained, not even now.

“He has been my teacher and my trainer all my life. “

Big Jim is philosophical about his fight.

“In my heart, I know I’m going to die,” he said. “But I know where I’m going. I’m in no rush, don’t get me wrong. But it’s something that everyone has to go through.

“I hope I have raised my children well and that they understand. My grandchildren were all saved. We will meet again. “


When: Tonight, shows at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.

Tickets: $ 10 Covered grandstand, $ 8 wings (not covered).


6 p.m. show: Josh Sweigert (first place), Mark Cuykendall (second place), Grayson Friar (third place), Jordan Clark (best car in the standings).

9 p.m. show: Matt Songalewski (first place), Joe Nash (second place), Ryan Songalewski (third place), Jason Lingar (best car in the standings).

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