It was another day in America at the Tuff Truck Competition and Destruction Derby at the Del Norte County Fair on Sunday.
The action jump-started as Caleb Lesher ignited the crowd with high-flying theatrics as he raced his Ford Explorer across the mogul- and mud-filled track.
“That kind of hurt a little bit,” said Lesher after his first lap. “I’m normally flying airplanes, but today I’m flying an Explorer.”
Lesher got the Explorer about two days before the event and made some minor upgrades to it, including fashioning a harness out of fence post and adding shocks and springs to the vehicle.
It was his first year in the competition.
“What guy doesn’t want to jump a truck into a mudpit?” said Lesher. “I was just trying to hold the wheel straight and keep my foot on the floor.”
Going into his second lap, the crowd came to expect another show from the flyer for Cal-Ore Life Flights. One spectator told another, “He’s a pilot, he’s used to flying.”
“Let’s see if he gasses it again,” said the announcer.
The crowd cheered as he zoomed off the jumps and soared for several feet.
A couple of rollovers delighted the crowd.
The Tuff Truck competition was staggered with a few heats of the destruction derby.
Drivers backed into each other putting their old cars to a final use until they couldn’t go anymore. They were trying to last to the main event.
A few cars had to be towed away with a tractor, including Alicia Strom’s station wagon. She and her crew worked diligently to get the car started again, but were unable to by the time the main event began. She would have been able to knock around her father, Brian Strom, who was also in the destruction derby.
“It’s just kind of exciting,” said Alicia Strom. “I get an adrenaline rush.”
When she took a hit to the front of her car, she said it was shocking.
The main event started with DJ Fullerton, of Willow Creek, in the middle of a scrum that led to his car being smashed. Dan Sumpter, of Red Bluff, took a speeding start, knocking into the rear of Charles Schnacker’s car and knocking off his helmet.
It also wedged the front bumper into Schnacker’s rear tire well, causing them to be connected for a majority of the derby. Sumpter spent a lot of time waving outside of his car to get others to knock him loose.
James Bobertz went on a tear as most of the cars began breaking down. He was gratutiously hitting all of them as the drivers just had to sit there and brace for the impact. Bobertz went on to win the main event.
Afterward, drivers all met in the middle of the mud to shake hands.
Tuff Truck winners: first place, John Ham, Brookings; second, Paul Dollar, Brookings; third, Caleb Lesher, Crescent City
Destruction Derby winners:
• First heat, first place, DJ Fullerton, Willow Creek; second, Charles Schnacker, Crescent City
• Second heat, first place, James Schnacker, Crescent City; second, Brian Strom, Crescent City
• Main event, first place, James Bobertz, Crescent City; second, DJ Fullerton, Willow Creek; third, Derek Goodlin, Crescent City; fourth, Brian Strom, Crescent City
Best-Appearing Car: DJ Fullerton, Willow Creek
Special Award: Dan Sumpter, Red Bluff