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Published: Sunday, 7/29/2007

Annual combine smash-up wows fans

BY ERIKA RAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Brent Studenka, left, of Lyons, Ohio, rams the machine of Doug Miller of Delta, Ohio, during the combine demolition derby.
Brent Studenka, left, of Lyons, Ohio, rams the machine of Doug Miller of Delta, Ohio, during the combine demolition derby.
Enlarge

It took less than four minutes for the rear wheels of Brent Studenka's red combine to break off and lodge under the big agricultural harvesting machine.

This left him powerless to maneuver away from Doug Miller, whose harvester had just crashed into his during the fifth annual combine demolition derby at the Lucas County Fairgrounds last night.

After it was apparent that Mr. Studenka, 26, would not be able to spin away from the attack, Mr. Miller, 28, of Delta, Ohio, was declared the winner.

"I think he bent my head on the first hit," Mr. Miller said, referring to a portion of his Massey-Ferguson 300 combine which was definitely in better shape before going up against Mr. Studenka's machine.

For his valiant efforts, Mr. Studenka, of Lyons, Ohio, came in second and Nick Bruns, 22, of Liberty Center, Ohio, was named best of show.

Mr. Bruns was taken out of the three-combine battle after only a few seconds. The very first hit sent his yellow-and-orange harvester into a corner of the concrete barrier, causing the carburetor to malfunction.

"It wasn't that bad," he said of the head-on collision that caused many spectators to jump up from their seats and cheer.

While he said he enjoyed the event, Craig Spears, 27, of Northwood wished the competition had lasted longer."It's different," he said. "You never see that happen too much with the combines."

Doug Miller checks the damage to his combine after winning the combine demolition derby at the Lucas County Fair. Doug Miller checks the damage to his combine after winning the combine demolition derby at the Lucas County Fair.
JEREMY WADSWORTH Enlarge

Although entries were sparse this year, many more people participated in the large-machinery frays in the past, said Jack Mason, derby announcer and vice president of the Lucas County fair board.

The fair's first few derbies drew more entries because more farmers owned smaller combines no longer used on their farms.

"Farmers had some sitting around and could have fun destroying them," Mr. Mason said. "Now it's hard to find smaller ones. Everything is just getting bigger."

Mr. Bruns doesn't live on a farm, but a neighbor donated an old Gleaner to him so he could attempt to annihilate the competition.

He didn't have much practice driving it, but he said he thought it would be fun to crash, smash, and bash his way into the competitors. During the derby, he was protected by a helmet and a seat belt.

Because he was eliminated in mere seconds, he's going to see if he can get his machine running again to get revenge at the Wood County Fair in Bowling Green next week. He might be able to go round two with Mr. Studenka, who insists he can reattach the rear wheels and enter another derby.

Though the Lucas County demolition derby is over for this year, there's plenty more to do during the last day of the fair today. Gates open at noon and close at 9 p.m. Rides begin at 1 p.m. and run until 10 p.m. The tractor pull and the annual cheerleading competition are scheduled for 2 p.m.

- Erika Ray



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