July 24, 2016

Partly cloudy

County fair’s Demolition Derby is always a smashing hit

Back in the ‘70s we watched The Fonz deal with Pinky Tuscadero and a demolition derby, while of late there’s Velocity-TV’s reality show “Kings of Crash.”

At the Medina County Fair, which is known for many things, including tasty food, fun entertainment and plenty of animal exhibits, there’s something special about the Demolition Derby, where the adrenaline is pumping, sweat is pouring and fingers are tingling. And that’s just in the packed grandstand audience.

“People just like coming to see cars being smashed up, I really don’t know why,” said Demolition Derby Chairperson Bob Dreher. “It’s exciting. It’s pretty thrilling when you’re sitting up there in the grandstand and seeing these smashes. We fit about 4,700 in the grandstand and usually it’s packed. I’d say we get close to 5,000 people.”

At a cost of $35, participants can enter their cars into various classes of the Medina County Fair Demolition Derby, which has been going on for decades. Generations of residents have watched their family members strip out a car, put on a helmet, say a prayer and smash their cars in hopes of being the last one standing. Or, to be exact, the last car running.

Something new to this year’s fair derby, where drivers race to win various monetary prizes that can get into the $3,000 range, is a subcompact event on Friday night.

This is something I’m a little bit excited about,” Dreher said. “It’s for kids ages 11 to 16 with a parent or guardian in the car. They build their cars the same way for the subcompacts.”

He added the idea was to generate interest in the younger generation to keep the demolition derby tradition alive. Sadly, in recent years the high price of cars has reduced the number of participants.

This year’s Medina County Fair Demolition Derby is split into two nights. On Monday, the ‘80s mid-weld class, where cars from the Reagan Administration can have their engines and transmissions changed but can’t be modified, takes place. There is also the adult subcompact demolition derby.

Then on Friday night it’s the old iron demolition derbies.

“Those are cars from the ‘50s to ’70, and even ‘80s,” Dreher said. “Those guys build a car you can do anything with. We pay pretty good money. Also on Friday night, we have a pro-modified class, where these cars are really built. They’re like an outlaw car.”

He added that the allure of the demolition derby is the fact that most of the drivers are “regular guys”, who have been doing it for years. Also, the audience just loves to see cars banged up for the heck of it.

“They’re going to get a lot of fun because they’re going to see cars out there being smashed up,” Dreher said. “If you’ve never been to a derby, you couldn’t explain how it is. I’m on the stage and looking at the grandstand. These people are clapping, yelling and screaming. The adrenaline is there. The drivers have it, and the people in the grandstand have it. It’s just a fun thing to watch.”

The Demolition Derbies take place at 7 p.m. July 28 and Aug. 1 at the Medina Fair Grandstand. Tickets are $7 to $8. Visit medina-fair.com.