OTTAWA — The Putnam County Fair came to a close Saturday night with lots of thrills and chills in the grandstand.
The ever-popular demolition derby put an exclamation mark on the week’s activities.
People packed the grandstand, despite temperatures in the 90s, to be entertained by a bunch of drivers purposely wrecking their vehicles in an effort to become last man standing.
One of the drivers was Brian Wilson, 36, of Findlay, and he had been here before.
“We won here two years ago,” said Wilson.
He’s been competing in demolition derbies around the area for 22 years. Getting his car ready is a lot of work.
“Just pretty much safety-wise, cage and stuff. A lot of welding. We’ve been welding for about two weeks straight,” he said.
Sizing up the competition, Wilson was not intimidated but admitted there’s some luck that goes along with winning.
“There’s some good ones here, though; everybody’s got the same stuff, so we’ll see,” he said.
One big factor prior to the event was the heat. The cars can use only water to cool them.
Wilson experienced some deja vu as he prepared for the demolition derby.
“My dad got me into it when I was about 16. He ran and I pretty much took over. I got my son [Gavin] here tonight too for his first time. He’s only 16,” he said.
They were in the class that raced Saturday night, and there was an incentive for the younger Wilson to beat his dad.
“He wants $1,000 if he wins tonight. I said, ‘You win I’ll give it to you,’” Wilson added.
So what does Wilson think is the secret to winning?
“Just being smart driving. Pick your shots and make them count,” he said.
Britain Leone, 28, also from Findlay, has been involved in demolition derbies for 12 years. He hasn’t taken the top prize yet, blaming “mechanical failures.”
“I got one third place last year, but other than that just mechanical failures,” Leone said.
He’s hoping his 1989 Crown Victoria will get him through the event.
“There’s going to be a lot of tough cars here tonight,” he said.
His strategy for winning sounded much like Wilson’s.
“Play it smart. Pick the shots, and hopefully nothing breaks,” Leone added.
Results of the demolition derby were not available late Saturday.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.