Drivers were ready to drive as fast as they could to crash into another car, while keeping their's running.
The siren blasts over the roar of the crowd and the Derby begins.
LUCASVILLE - As early as Friday night, people came into the Grandstand area at the fair to claim a spot to watch the demolition derby on Saturday.
Pickup trucks backed to the high fence that surrounds the track. Early Saturday morning, people were spreading blankets on the bleachers to get a good seat.
By the time the derby started at 5 p.m., there was standing room only. Thousands of people crowded into the bleachers.
Angela Leeth, of Piketon, arrived about an hour and a half before the derby started and there was no place to sit.
“Everybody came early, you've got to come early,” Leeth said. “Derby is the best.”
The demolition derby has become one of the biggest events at the fair, said Eugene Gahm, fair board member.
“They've been sitting over there in that sun all day long just to get a good seat,” Gahm said. “This draws the most people and we've tried to add to everywhere we can.”
The top three winners in each heat took home trophies and $50 and the feature heat winner took home the biggest trophy and $1,500.
Valley Local Schools and Northwest Schools loaned bleachers for the derby.
“There's a lot of good people that help support this fair and I'm very proud of it,” Gahm said. “We have a good fair and it's just good, clean fun. Kids have a good time and that's what it's all about. When kids have a good time, I'm happy.”
A large water truck begins watering down the track and firemen spray the track with large hoses.
First, the track has to be watered down so the contestants can't run their cars too fast.
“We water the track to keep them from going 95 miles per hour,” Gahm said. “If you don't, some of those guys would hit you and turn you over and everything else.”
About 100 cars entered the demolition derby. Three heats, with about 25 cars in each heat, competed for the big car event and about 25 cars competed in the small car event.
The old large cars are popular for the derby and each one is uniquely decorated, some with names, numbers and advertisements.
Hershel Gulley, of Lucasville, competed for the first time. He had a 1989 Cadillac that he got from a friend.
“For the last couple of months, we've been fiddling around with it,” Gulley said.
One driver, Brad Windle, came from Chillicothe to compete. This was his third year to compete and although he hasn't won yet, he continues to try.
He drove a 1976 Oldsmobile 98 for the derby.
“The closest I've come is being in the top 10 in my heat,” Windle said.
He drives to junk yards and checks out old cars in people's yards, he said. He paid $500 for the one he used Saturday.
“Some people have their old junky cars sitting on their lawns and you just walk up and ask them if they want to sell them,” Windle said. “You work on the motor and try to get it running right.”
He wears the same shirt he wore last year with “Get-R-Done” on the front, hoping for a lucky shirt, he said. Names are printed all over the sides of his car.
“This is my in-laws, this is my brother and his family, some of my friends and I've got my other family on the other side and an advertisement on the front,” Windle said.
Richard Howard, of Lucasville, had a red and yellow flame design painted on the hood of his 1984 Chevy Caprice. His son painted it for him, he said.
Howard has been in the demolition derby for the past five years. Although he hasn't won yet, he keeps going.
“I made it to the feature year before last,” he said. “It's a lot of fun.”
Most of the cars had the exhausts on the front of the car.
Tiffany Lane, of Portsmouth, participated illegally last year, she said. But this year she is legal and ready to go.
“I made fourth place last year but they wouldn't let me run,” Lane said. “Because my boyfriend signed me up.”
She had a station wagon and both she and her boyfriend worked on it to get it running.
Kim Franklin has been going to the derby for the past two years because her daughter, Kristie, participated.
“She likes the roughness, she likes to beat the guys,” Franklin said. “She likes to give them a run for their money. Last year she made it to the finals.”
Although her car was better built this year, she said, something went wrong and her car died.
“My starter went out,” Kristie Franklin said. “It's a lot of fun. Last year was a blast. I made the feature. That's the whole point of it just to have fun. When you do well it's just a bonus. It's a big adrenaline rush.”
After three heats with the big cars, the compact car derby started. The feature event included the top five winners of the three big car heats.
Michael Wiley, of Lucasville, had the last car running for the evening and received the largest trophy and $1,500; second place was Jimmy Rapp, of Sugar Grove, who received $350 and a trophy; third place was Danny Hamilton, of Twin Valley, who received $250 and a trophy; and the fourth-place winner was Mike Kirby, who received $75 and a trophy.
PHYLLIS NOAH can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 234, or email@example.com.