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Total destruction: Trucks hang tough at fair

Nathan Campbell of Crescent City won the tough trucks competition after overcoming trouble with the fuel system on his first run of the day. Campbell says he can’t even remember how many tough truck competitions he has won after over a decade of competition. Del Norte Triplicate / Michael Zogg
Nathan Campbell of Crescent City won the tough trucks competition after overcoming trouble with the fuel system on his first run of the day. Campbell says he can’t even remember how many tough truck competitions he has won after over a decade of competition. Del Norte Triplicate / Michael Zogg
The Destruction Derby and Tough Trucks competition drew perhaps the largest audience of the weekend at the fairgrounds in an event that featured many local drivers.

Local driver Nathan Campbell, of Crescent City, was able to keep the tough trucks title in the county by finishing first overall in thecompetition. Although Campbell competes in similar tough trucks events all over Northern California and Southern Oregon, he got his start at home in the Del Norte County Fair over a decade ago.

“We got the old Bronco and just started beating on it and fixing it up as we went,” Campbell said. “When we find any weak spots we try to fix them with old junkyard parts for the most part. It is just something fun to do.”

Although Campbell was confident heading into the event, having won multiple tough trucks competitions in the past, his first run didn’t go quite as well as planned, and he was stuck in sixth place heading into the finals.

“The engine wasn’t getting fuel on the first run,” Campbell said. “We were able to fix the fuel system and were able to get fuel flowing through it again, and when I ran it (the second time), it did what it was supposed to do.”

Campbell narrowly edged out John Hamm of Brookings for the win. Kelsey Box, of Grants Pass, took third place after turning in the fastest time in the first run.

The tough trucks course featured two small jumps on the front stretch followed by a field of moguls. On the back stretch, there was a bigger jump, leading to a mud pit that was filled with over a foot of water in some places.

Three of the eight trucks couldn’t quite get through the bog and had to be towed out.

Crescent City resident C.J. Schnacker’s car goes up in smoke after he rammed into Tony Deniz’s car in the destruction derby’s main event. Del Norte Triplicate / Michael Zogg
Crescent City resident C.J. Schnacker’s car goes up in smoke after he rammed into Tony Deniz’s car in the destruction derby’s main event. Del Norte Triplicate / Michael Zogg

“People don’t protect the breather on their trucks, so as soon as water splashes up into it, it kills the motor,” Campbell said. “Then the two-wheel-drive guys just got stuck in it. It was a pretty big mud pit. I tried to jump over it and I couldn’t get far enough. I ended up about 2 feet from the end of the hole.”

In the demolition derby, Tony Deniz narrowly beat out Tim Boehm, both of Orland, in the main event. C.J. Schnacker was the top local finisher in the main event, taking third place.

Charles Kendrick, of Corning, finished in first place in the first heat, ahead of Boehm. In the second heat, Brian Storm edged out Derrick Goodlin, both of Crescent City, for first.

While the destruction derby and the tough trucks seem to be a fairly large draw at the fair, Campbell said he would like to see more such events held throughout the year as a means of raising money for the fair, like several nearby Oregon counties do. 

“The Grants Pass and Gold Beach fairgrounds have been putting these derbies on three or four times a year to raise money for the fairgrounds,” Campbell said. “I would like to see our fairgrounds do something like that so the money goes right to the fairgrounds rather than hiring an outside group to come in and put it on.”

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