XENIA — With a Pizza Hut delivery lamp bolted onto the roof of his near-spotless white 1995 Cadillac, Steve Wilson appeared to be a very lost delivery driver Monday July 31 at the Greene County Fair.
Wilson, 43, of Xenia was within the muddy, concrete barrier-lined arena intentionally, to compete in his very first demolition derby. With sponsorship spray painted in red, from his two places of employment — Pizza Hut and Rooster’s, both located on Main Street in Xenia — and the doors bolted shut and glass removed, he was all set to do battle.
Somehow, his Cadillac met the wheelbase restrictions for the Mini Street Stock division. And so there sat Wilson in his near perfect-conditioned Caddy lined up with seven battle scarred Pintos, Vegas and Escorts.
Wilson broke the Cardinal Rule of demolition derby competition almost three minutes into the event: He led with his radiator.
The resulting crash caved in the front of his car and definitely damaged the radiator, as smoke and steam could soon be seen spewing from out of the front. The head-on hit with eventual runner-up Shawn Johnson of Millerstown ended Wilson’s night.
“You take a front-end hit, and that’s what happens. It was my first derby. Everybody says to hit from the back, but I was just out there to have a good time. I wasn’t expecting to win. If I did, I did. …. You learn from experience,” Wilson said.
With a caved in radiator, Wilson needed a helpful push from a Xenia Tool Rental bobcat to get his dead Caddy out of the infield arena. Wilson said he’d do it all over again, and if he can get the car repaired before the Smash It Demoltion Derby’s fair season comes to a close, he’ll be back out for another demolition derby sometime soon.
“It’s better than any rush I’ve ever had in my life. It’s pure adrenaline, totally awesome,” Wilson said, moments after the race. “I drove this car to work three days ago! … It’s only had one owner, and it’s only got 129,000 miles on it. I have another car, so I just wanted to do this and have a good time.”
That last quarter mile was likely the roughest his Cadillac ever had.
Perched in the Greene County Fairgrounds infield tower, with chunks of dirt and car parts flying around was as close as John Bombatch got to the demolition derby arena. You can reach him at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.