OTTAWA — Brian Wilson looks at a demolition derby a little like a boxing match, play good defense, don’t get hit and strike often.
He did just that Saturday night at the Putnam County Fair’s demolition derby and with it won $1,700, all of which likely will be spent on preparing his 1989 Crown Victoria for the next derby if it’s not too badly damaged.
“I’m 34 and I’ve been doing this since I was 16. My dad got me into it,” he said.
Derby cars are stripped down, seats taken out, gas tank moved to the back seat surrounded by iron to protect it. Dents from previous races, scars of sorts, are pounded out and cars are reinforced as much as the race will allow.
Tiny tractor tires are used on the back wheels for traction although it’s hard to get going too fast on a loose dirt track. Still drivers run into each other from every angle, preferably hitting with the rear of their car to protect the engine.
“Pick your shots,” Wilson said.
The last car standing is the winner.
In Wilson’s race, car parts that fell off or were knocked off in a collision lined the dirt track. Some cars blew a radiator evident by the white cloud of steam.
Drivers in cars knocked out sat there watching from a track-side seat occasionally getting smashed into until only one car was left. This time it was Wilson out of six cars in the race.
Wilson said he gets knocked around inside the car and jolted pretty well. Last year he went through three cars in five events.
“It’s a lot of work for a little bit of fun,” he said.
Watching the derby was Mike Hilvers, of Ottoville, with his family.
“We decided to take in a little bit of demolition derby. It’s pretty good. Entertaining. The boys like it. The girls, well …,” he said stopping in mid-sentence.
The first two events of the derby were figure-eight races with cars hitting each other if they crossed paths. Hilvers said “It kind of looks like NASCAR on steroids.”
Zach Starr, of Lima, likes demolition derbies and goes to as many as he can when the events are local.
“I love them,” Starr said. “I like to see them destroy the cars as much as they can.”
Reach Greg Sowinski at 567-242-0464 or on Twitter @Lima_Sowinski.