LIMA — Denny Fricke can tell how the economy is by the number of people participating in the demolition derby.
The Allen County Fair director said the 68 cars in the fair’s demolition derby shows that the “economy is coming back.”
The number is more than there’s been in the event in several years, as the average for recent years has been 40.
“It’s one-third up,” Fricke said. “I think more people are back involved with it again.”
After the fair parade on Saturday morning, the demolition derby, Saturday night at the fair, not only had a good showing of drivers, but also had a large crowd cheering them on.
That’s part of what Jeff Tincher, also know as “The Rock and Bomber,” likes about driving in the derby.
“The crowd appreciates you,” he said. “I go out with the best car and drive it the best I can.”
Tincher, 40 of Celina, has been participating in demolition derbies since 1998, and though he was planning for this to be his last show due to his back problems, he’s reconsidering because “there’s still plenty of truck left.”
He won the mini-truck competition and said because his vehicle is still mostly intact, he’ll drive it in more derbies until it won’t run anymore.
The derby begins with a power wheels derby, where children get to drive their smaller cars around and every one of them gets a trophy.
“Kids love it,” Fricke said. “They have a ball.”
After that, things get a little more intense, with the regular derby involving mini-trucks, full-size trucks, mini-cars, a mild weld class for cars, stock cars and figure eight races.
In every class there’s a winner, a trophy and a prize.
The trophy “means more to some,” Fricke said.
The derby has been going on since the 1960s, he said.
Tincher, who won a large trophy at the derby, likes fabricating and building the vehicles he drives in the competitions. The red mini-truck he drove Saturday night was rusty and had missing fenders when he began getting it ready three months ago.
He loves “how people and fans feel about me,” he said. “They all appreciate me showing up because I put on a show.”
When he’s driving in a derby, the track is his “spot.”
“I’m happy all the time,” he said.
Reach Danae King at 567-242-0511 or on Twitter @DanaeKing.