For decades, demolition derbies have been the last hurrah for countless cars.
A quick look at the math ‚ÄĒ 88 counties in Ohio, 88 county fairs: that‚Äôs a lot of demolition and a lot of cars.
And that‚Äôs just Ohio.
Then in the wake of the oil crisis of the 1970‚Äôs Detroit stopped building cars like tanks.
The shelf life for derby cars is, obviously, very short. Even for the one‚Äôs built like tanks.
For the hard-core derbiast, finding the perfect derby car is getting more and more difficult.
Ryan Place, of Cridersville, has been competing in demolition derbies for 15 years, often hitting multiple county fairs in search of that adrenaline rush.
But now the cost of competing is limiting him to just one a year.
And he had to go all the way to Wyoming to find the car he drove Thursday in the Auglaize County Fair derby.
‚ÄúThey‚Äôre scarce now, which is driving the price up on them,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs getting expensive to derby. It‚Äôs a lot of time and a lot of money.‚ÄĚ
Place said his car of choice is any GM product built between 1973 and 1976.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs seems like the sheet metal, the frame, the drivetrain ‚ÄĒ it‚Äôs just a heavier duty car,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúEverything back in the ‚Äô70s was built better.
‚ÄúThose are my preferred cars. A lot of derbies are going with like ‚Äô98-‚Äô02 Crown Vics, police cars. That‚Äôs the new age car.‚ÄĚ
Place‚Äôs first derby car was a four-door 1968 Chevrolet Impala.
‚Äú[I was] scared to death,‚ÄĚ Place said. ‚ÄúI thought I had to use the restroom right before I went out. Didn‚Äôt know what to expect. Once you go out there, your nerves go away when you make that first hit.
‚ÄúI was hooked from that first hit. All the nerves went away and you‚Äôre just out there having fun.‚ÄĚ
Place has taken ‚ÄĒ and dished out ‚ÄĒ a lot of hits over the years. The worst, he said, was three years ago, a hit that left him seeing stars.
‚ÄúWe were allowed leaf-springing the axles back then,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúWe hit back end-to-back end with Jeff Schaub with almost a full-track shot each. That hurt the most.‚ÄĚ
Schaub and Place squared off again on Thursday in the Smash-It class, with Schaub outlasting Place for the win.
As long as he can still find cars to smash, expect Place to be back in the pit on derby night.
‚ÄúYou‚Äôre always taught not to hit cars when you‚Äôre driving,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúBut you go out there and hit cars. Breakin‚Äô the rules. It‚Äôs an adrenaline rush‚ÄĚ