October 24, 2014

Medina
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Mark Szakacs Jr. adds to his family’s demolition derby legacy

Brunswick's Ian High and Medina's Ryan Keaton compete in the second heat of the sub-compact division of the 80's & Newer Demolition Derby Monday at the Medina County Fair. (RON SCHWANE / GAZETTE)

Brunswick’s Ian High and Medina’s Ryan Keaton compete in the second heat of the sub-compact division of the 80′s & Newer Demolition Derby Monday at the Medina County Fair. (RON SCHWANE / GAZETTE)

MEDINA — Father to son, senior to junior. The demolition derby at the Medina County Fair has been a part of Mark Szakacs Jr.’s family since his father won the stock derby in 1978.

The Medina resident added his first 80’s and Newer Demolition title in his sixth year in the event, describing the win Monday night as “bittersweet” after he became the second member of his family to triumph.

Compared to past years, the number of cars was much lower — a total of 41 in three different events — but the level of competition remained high, as the same skilled veterans returned to the field.

Medina’s Mark Szakacs Jr. celebrates after winning the stock division of the 80’s & Newer Demolition Derby Monday night at the Medina County Fair. (RON SCHWANE / GAZETTE)

Medina’s Mark Szakacs Jr. celebrates after winning the stock division of the 80’s & Newer Demolition Derby Monday night at the Medina County Fair. (RON SCHWANE / GAZETTE)

There were only 13 stock cars, which meant all drivers had to bring their “A” game immediately.

“I was familiar with a lot of the drivers that come and their driving style,” Szakacs said. “I had a game plan that I was trying to go for when I was out there.”

Szakacs planned to defend his 1987 Grand Marquis from major blows from the other 12 drivers, and his plan prevailed, as he faced Mark DiFrishia and Adam Snyder in the final three.

DiFrishia trapped Snyder between his car and the tires surrounding the field. With fire and smoke fuming from his engine, DiFrishia found himself stuck as well, with Szakacs delivering the final blows on the side to win and keep the trophy and the prize money in Medina.

“It means a lot because in the last five years that they’ve been doing this, someone from out of the county has won the money and taken it somewhere else,” Szakacs said. “I mean, it’s my hometown and the money’s staying home.

“It’s a good feeling. I’ve been around this for my whole life and I’ve been waiting to hold that trophy up the way I did just now. It’s pretty exciting.”

The Mild Weld competition had controversy brewing throughout, as several drivers pushed the envelope by delivering blows to the drivers’ side doors, which is against the competition’s rules.

After seeing one driver get eliminated for breaking the rule, Brandon Hauler had a close call where he hit a driver’s side door, but didn’t get eliminated. Hauler, a resident of North Fairfield, won the event to the disappointment of the crowd, as fans booed him after he was handed his trophy.

In the final event of the evening, Cary Squires battled John Roushkolb for the Sub Compact title. The two went back and forth, with Roushkolb fighting through a flat front left tire and Squires nearly getting himself stuck on the tires surrounding the field.

In the end, Squires came out victorious. The win was huge for the Grafton resident, who started working on his car Sunday at 5 p.m. and was a late addition to the competition at 7 p.m. Monday.

Click here to view more photos from the derby.

Contact Matthew Doyle at sports@medina-gazette.com.