LIMA — The sounds of vehicles’ motors revving up and crashing into each other could be heard in the Allen County Fairgrounds grandstands Monday night, as the annual demolition derby returned.
Denny Fricke, demo derby chair, said the event has been at the fair since the 1960s and was started by Forrest Armentrout, who was on the fair board at the time and owned Army’s Auto Wrecking.
The first derby ever held at the fair was won by Fricke’s uncle, Vern Fricke. Fricke previously competed in the derby with his own cars in the 1970s and ‘80s.
“You need to have patience and make sure you protect the front end as much as possible and hit the other vehicle hard to be the last man standing,” Fricke said.
Participants wore helmets and neck restraints to protect themselves. They competed in different divisions, with categories of small and large vehicles. First place in each category received trophies.
Charles Boughan, 61, of Lafayette, competed with his Chevrolet truck that he has competed with three previous years at the Allen County Fair. He has only missed one year at the demolition derby when he was 16 because the demolition derby was canceled due to rain.
He has competed in Auglaize, Putnam and Hancock county demolition derbies but said Allen County’s is his favorite.
“There is a lot of adrenaline this brings. You can take all your frustrations out and smash the cars,” Boughan said. “When I first started doing these, they called me ‘the kid,’ now they call me ‘the old man.’”
He said it takes patience to compete in the demolition derby, and he likes to put his vehicle to the floor and hit everyone.
Boughan’s niece, Kaylee Cochrine, 18, also competed in the demolition derby with her Taurus. It was her third year competing.
“I like being able to take my anger out on other cars. My uncle has taken me to the demo derby since I was a little girl, and I’m addicted to it,” Cochrine said. She took all of the glass out in her windows to get ready for the derby.
Ethan Watkins, 29, of Gomer, has competed in the derby for the past 11 years. He had a compact weld class car and a 1998 Buick Century he competed with, painting the number “03” on each car. In addition to Lima, he has participated in derbies in Wapakoneta, Shelby County and Columbus.
His friend helped him build a 1989 Dodge Aries derby car when he turned 18, and he placed first in 2008 in the smaller derby class in Allen County.
“I stripped everything out of the cars and put new bumpers on them,” Watkins said about preparing for Monday’s derby.
Monday night’s competition was the final leg of the I-75 challenge, where winners from demolition derby’s at fairs in Auglaize, Shelby, Miami and Allen counties received trophies and cash prizes.
Smash It Demolition Derbies inspected vehicles to make sure gaskets and engines were tight before vehicles crashed into each other at 15 to 30 mph, said Tim Clark, company president.
Prior to the demolition derby, there was a Power Wheels competition for children, where each participant received a trophy.
Reach Jennifer Peryam at 567-242-0362.