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Fowlers, father and son, are demolition experts

A flagman waves the green flag at Riverhead

A flagman waves the green flag at Riverhead Raceway. (July 16, 2011) Credit: Daniel Brennan

Many fathers spend quality time with their sons by playing a few rounds of golf, having a catch or going fishing together. The father-son duo of Rich and Andrew Fowler crash cars -- sometimes each other's -- and now they will do so for a national title.

The Wantagh residents are entered in Saturday's National Demolition Derby Championship at Riverhead Raceway, with the winner taking home a cool grand prize of $1,500.

Just because Rich, 48, and Andrew, 23, are family doesn't mean that they pull punches on the track. That much was evident two weeks ago, when their cars were the last two remaining for the first time in the five years that they've competed together.

Andrew ended up winning, but not due to a lack of effort from his father. "At first, I was thinking that we're going to put on a little show for the crowd," Andrew said. "Before you know it, he's caving in my car and my car really can't even drive anymore."

Andrew Fowler, who clinched the Riverhead Raceway Demolition Derby championship that night, credits his father with getting him into demolition derbies five years ago. "He was always into it," Andrew said. "He had an extra car sitting around, and he just set it up for me and taught me his tricks."

Rich Fowler said he sees competing in demolition derbies with Andrew as "just like any other thing." And off the track, it's a typical father-son relationship. "We go fishing together, we hang out together," Rich said.

But just like the last time they went head-to-head, don't expect either Fowler to give an inch if they are the ones left running in the end -- especially with a national championship on the line.

"Blood is thicker than water," the elder Fowler said. "But it's our blood, so it's every man for himself. The last one still running and moving is the winner."

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