WAPAKONETA — The demolition derby held Thursday evening at the Auglaize County Fair is such a popular event people show up hours early before to get their ideal seats and watch the preparations being made in anticipation of the action.
“My wife and I come here every year,” said Carl Williams, of Lakeview. “We’ve come to it probably for most of our lives.”
Part of the appeal for him is the excitement because he’s worked on fixing up and constructing demolition derby vehicles before. He knows the time and care drivers put into their vehicles before they get out there in the arena and tear them apart. Williams was at the grandstand at 5 p.m., two and a half hours before start time.
Williams’ wife, Peggy, shares the same love. She actually participated in the Auglaize County Fair derby when she was younger.
“It was 1986,” Peggy Williams said. “My son was about 2 months old and my daughter was a year and a half. They sat in the grandstand with their grandmother and watched as I drove.”
She was terrified as the event neared until her brother, who always participated, told her she was going to kick butt and to calm down, she said.
“When they said, ‘Drivers, start your engines,’ that adrenaline kicked in and it was a rush like you wouldn’t believe,” Peggy Williams said. “Where else can you crash a car into another car without getting arrested?”
She’d do it again if she could but since that isn’t a possibility she comes to Wapakoneta every year and watches others do it. Her nephews participate.
Peggy Williams said her father says the best seats are at the very top of the grandstand because you get a bird’s eye view of the action. Being that she’s afraid of heights, she said her preference is in the middle few rows.
“One of the ends is the best place to sit,” said Jennifer Burden, who was seated by 5:30 p.m. with her daughters, Mallory, 7, and Allie, 3, waiting for her husband and son to arrive after they were done with football.
The children were sharing a big cup of french fries and watching as the drivers drove their vehicles into the arena. Burden said she and her eldest daughter liked to pick a vehicle each race to root for.
Mallory Burden said she picked her car by color or number. Blue is her favorite color.
By 6 p.m., the grandstand was already about a third full of people willing to sit wait for another hour and a half until the demolition derby began.
Reach Bryan Reynolds at 567-242-0362