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Photo of a past Demolition Derby taking place at the Athens County Fairgrounds. (Provided via Athens County Fair Facebook)

Demolition Derby coming to Athens County Fairgrounds

This weekend, The Plains Volunteer Fire Department and the Athens County Agricultural Society (ACAS) are bringing mayhem and destruction to Athens.

A ‘Fall Explosion’ demolition derby will take place at the Athens County Fairgrounds, 286 W. Union St. Vehicle inspection starts at 3 p.m., and general admission starts at 7 p.m. The event can be found on Facebook.

The event was an idea of Mickey West, fire chief at The Plains Volunteer Fire Department. The derby is a fundraiser for The Plains Volunteer Fire Department. 

Demolition derbies are a sport of perseverance, West said.

“There’s 10-15 cars in a track inside barriers,” West said. “They start hitting each other and it goes down to the last one running.”

Demolition derbies are a common event held at the fairgrounds. They are a classic event, usually during the Athens County Fair.

The Athens County Agricultural Society was a big help to West when he organized the event.

“They’re letting me use the fairgrounds,” West said. 

The ACAS is helping organize food services and the sound system as well.

“Demolition derbies here are usually pretty successful,” West said. 

He hopes this weekend draws a bigger crowd since students are in town. 

Fall Explosion isn’t all derby-destruction, either. Small children will be running power-wheels in the derby, as well as two classes of lawn mowers, too. 

To West, demolition derbies are great, simple forms of entertainment. It gets people to come out and experience something fun. 

Cars in derbies are inspected and intended to be safe. Glass is removed from the vehicle and drivers are prepared for motion. 

“It’s generally pretty safe,” West said.

Inspections are also made for fairness purposes. 

“We inspect for safety and to make sure cars are not overbuilt and things like that,” West said. “(It’s) basically to make sure they’re not cheating.”

West will be doing vehicular inspection. It is $5 to watch, and $35 to bring a car to compete in a race.

To West, a demolition derby is always a one-of-a-kind experience. It’s never the same thing twice. 

“It’s entertainment,” West said. “(It’s) something to do on a Saturday night.”

The derby will also raffle off a chance to compete in the mini-stock race. The winner must be 18 and up and have a valid driver’s license. 

“You never know what you’ll see at a demolition derby,” he said.

West hopes college students in town make for a bigger crowd than the usual summer derbies bring. 

Sean West, a laborer for Advanced Seamless Gutter & Roofing Inc., is running a car in the derby.

While running a car in a demolition derby is risky business, it’s full of thrills. 

“It’s definitely an adrenaline rush,” Sean said. “You gotta keep your head on a swivel and be aware of your surroundings.” 

There are precautions that are taken when driving, he added. 

“Safety is a major concern,” he said. “A lot of people wear neck braces and seat belts.”

Sean has felt the effects of these risks, too. He’s experienced minor injuries driving before, but nothing too serious. His cuts didn’t discourage him. 

Sean grew up watching demolition derbies. His father will be driving Saturday night as well. He’s always enjoyed a good show. 

“(It’s) fun to watch -- to see the cars bend, buckle up and metal crunch -- it’s what people want to see,” he said. 

There are three classes competing Saturday night: mini-stock, mini-stock V-8 and kicker. With each class, cars increase in modification and sustainability, respectively. 

Sean will drive a car in the mini-stock V-8 class.

“My race will probably only be about 20 to 30 minutes, depending on how many show up (to compete),” Sean said. 

Class competitions with more cars can last up to two hours, he said.

Sean’s class modifies his vehicle to where it has no windows, interior and reinforces the base of the car with a roll-cage, as well as a modified motor.

For West, it is a vehicular-endurance competition. Derbies are about doing the right things to keep drivers’ cars running the longest. 

Kevin Marcum, manager at the Burrito Buggy, participated in a demolition derby in the early ‘90s. Derby driving appealed to him because of the rush.  

“It’s fun to smash into things,” he said. 

Marcum thinks demolition derbies have universal appeal and add excitement to everyday people’s lives. 

“I think it’s the excitement of getting smashed -- the adrenaline rush,” he said. “It’s addictive to watch.” 

@_kerijohnson

kj153517@ohio.edu  

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