Derby time

Saturday night at the 171st Seneca County Fair the sound of roaring engines and crunching metal will be heard from the grandstands.

The demolition derby is to take place at 8 p.m. with several events, including the lawn mower, compact car, full size car and truck derbies.

This year, Daniel Raufer of Tiffin is to compete for the first time in the full size truck category.

Raufer has been participating in derbies since 2010, but only in the compact car category.

He said he first got involved in derbies after he graduated from Calvert Catholic High School in 2010.

“I’ve seen derbies as a kid and always loved watching them,” Raufer said. “My friends and I would buy cars and beat them up and run them around the backyard. One day we decided to build a derby car and see how it would go.”

Raufer said the first thing to do when competing in a derby is to buy a cheap car.

The first car the Raufer ran in a derby was a 1988 Caprice Classic. He said he wasn’t able to run that car in Tiffin because the fuel tank clogged. Raufer took it to Fremont and ran in the derby, lasting 15 minutes.

Raufer said he usually only lasts about 5-10 minutes. He said he has had occasional bad luck when it comes to derbies.

Last year though, Raufer said he purchased a 1990 Chevrolet Cavalier for $50 and a Polar Pop. Raufer ran it in the derby and placed fourth out of sixteen, lasting 25 minutes.

This year, Raufer bought a 1988 Escort Wagon and traded it in for the 1987 Chevrolet pick-up truck that he is to enter Saturday.

It takes a lot of work to get a vehicle ready for the derby, Raufer said. First the vehicle needs to be stripped. All the interior needs to be removed, all glass, Fiberglas, headlights, taillights, trim and trailer hitches. The fuel tank also needs to be removed, Raufer said. His has been placed in a steel reinforced box so nothing would puncture the tank.

Hoods, tailgates and doors must be wired down, he said. A roll cage must also be installed to protect the driver. All vehicles also must pass an inspection before competing.

Raufer has chosen a theme to paint his truck this year. He is to paint the truck in a Monopoly board theme, but instead of Boardwalk and Park Place, he has chosen to insert the names of his sponsors. Sponsors include Fort Ball Pizza, Marco’s Pizza Reino’s, Same Day Signs, Hess Farms and Danner’s Auto Wrecking.

Raufer said he can’t wait to get hit this year.

“I like how it gets the adrenaline going,” Raufer said. “Once you get hit, you just want to roll with it.”

In the full-size truck contest, Raufer could win $2,000, but he said it is not about winning.

“My favorite part about the derby is just seeing all the kids out there watching,” he said. “I get a thrill out of seeing their faces. If I don’t win, I’ll at least have the truck with the coolest paint job.”

Raufer said the key is if you know how to build it and know how to drive it, that determines how long you will last.

“Always remember, even if you drive smart, something could still go wrong,” Raufer said.

Tickets for the derby are $5 for the grandstands and $10 for the infield.

For more information, call (419) 447-7888.