By Matthew Doyle
MEDINA — No certain vehicles had an advantage Thursday in the Rough Truck Contest on the winding dirt track full of ramps and moguls at the Medina County Fairgrounds.
The frames of trucks and jeeps were too broad to make clean turns, while the nimble Ford Tempos were too compact to survive the rough course.
Bumpy paths and leaps often led to missing headlights and mufflers, with bumpers spread over the track. While the rough rides were pleasing to fans, they didn’t help many of the drivers in the timed event.
Despite the difficult course, Medina’s Alex Feiler was able to find a happy medium.
Feiler, who drove an ‘88 Toyota truck, had an advantage by having a big enough truck to survive the bumps, but the lack of a back bed gave him the elusiveness to twist around the wicked curves.
“I like to think that (the lack of a bed) made the truck a little lighter,” Feiler said. “It was definitely the tires, too. The hand-grooved tires helped.”
Feiler’s competitors often experienced difficulties with the three main turns in the race. A complete 180-degree banked turn on a dirt mound led to several flipped cars, while some unsuspecting drivers missed the turn entirely and drove off the course.
Six cars were disqualified for failing to follow the path, while five more were towed off due to mechanical issues.
Most drivers simply struggled to master the turns. It appeared to be a difficult, complex task, but Feiler had a simple explanation to his strategy.
“It’s all in the skinny pedal. Just hammer down and race through it,” Feiler said. “When you hit the turns, just pop that clutch and go.”
Feiler completed the course in 35.49 seconds, which was best in the stock cars by nearly one full second. The best run on the night came from Mount Vernon’s Jason Hess, a modified driver, with an astonishing 31.37 finish.
Feiler and Hess nearly swept their competition not only in the main event, but also in the post-race long jump contest.
Both held impressive leads, but were robbed when eventual champions Adam Henslee and Levi Lape made late leaps to win the glorified long jump tournament. Lape’s spectacular jump sent the crowd home filled with excitement.
In the end, though, it was the hometown favorite that captured the crowd’s attention. By winning in dominating fashion, Feiler was able to represent Medina in its very own fair.
“It was awesome. I’ve never felt this way before,” said Feiler, who was awarded $250 for his victory. “I was so excited. … I had a lot of people behind me, which was great.”
Contact Matthew Doyle at firstname.lastname@example.org.