Demo derby pits father vs. son

WAPAKONETA — Treg Drexler watched his dad Tony compete in demolition derbies for years, so he relished the chance when the second session of Thursday night's Auglaize County Fair derby came down to just the two family members.

"He's been at it for over 27 years," Treg said. "I knew he was going to be tough to beat. I knew I had to get on him from the get-go and drive like he'd drive."

Treg, driving a black 1993 Lincoln Continental, bested his father, Tony, who drove a green 1970s Ford station wagon.

Tony threw his tag to the dirt to signal he was done with a disgusted look after the Ford wouldn't restart for a second time, but after the race he was all smiles.

"I wish it would've fired one more time," said Tony with a gregarious laugh. "But it was a lot of fun."

It's the second time Treg and Tony, who prep the cars together, have been in the final few cars of a competition.

"I can't beat him," Tony said, laughing. "Next time, my car is going to be built first. He always gets his car built first. Next time, dad's car is going to get built first."

The demolition derby is an event where 1970s American steel molded by Detroit into tank-like fortresses is still a thing to admire and a rust-free 1970s General Motors station wagon has the ultimate value.

It's also an event where grown men wind up their engines with a glint in their eyes of a five year old ready to smash two Tonka trucks together just to see what happens, what sound it makes.

"It's an adrenaline rush," said Wapakoneta's Jeff Schaub, a perennial winner at the event who got out of his vehicle in the pit area with dirt caking every part of his face except the eyes after the first-session win. "And winning in your hometown is the thing, too."

Despite rising costs to compete and a scarcity of vehicles with the heft to run in derbies, Schaub said he loves it.

"It's a lot of time and it's an expensive hobby," added Schaub." It's fun. I just wish they could get more of a car count, but the way the scrap prices were the last couple of years, it's hurt it."

Schaub drove a blue 1973 Chevy wagon with Texas license plates.

"You've got to go south to find a good, clean rust-free car.," Schaub said. "They don't have the salt. You can't find them around here anymore."