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TRUMBULL FAIR Rain can't spoil night's off-road driving contest



Published: Sat, July 16, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Prize money for the new fair event totaled $3,000.

By KATIE LIBECCO

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

BAZETTA -- Visitors to the Trumbull County Fair ignored the heavy rain to see something new at the fair Friday night. The fair featured its first Ruff Truck Contest, an off-roading competition.

Twenty-five drivers and hundreds of spectators came out to the open competition.

Drivers ranged from local amateurs to those involved in other forms of professional racing. Some drivers had trucks designed for off-roading, while others brought a car they commute in every day.

"We just wanted to do something different," said Bud Rogers, Ruff Truck coordinator and the first vice president of the Fair Board. "People get sick of seeing the same old things."

Fair board members who had seen the event at other county fairs wanted to bring it to Trumbull County, Rogers said.

Muddy success

Heavy rain started during the national anthem before the event and lasted until the intermission. The section of grandstands covered was shoulder-to-shoulder full of spectators, and more ventured out in the rain to watch the Ruff Truck contest.

"There's been a great response. We have drivers from all over," said Trumbull County Fair Board secretary Jack Lemmers. "Motor-related things go over well here, more than big-name entertainment."

The contest was open to licensed drivers at least 18 years old in any front-engine vehicle with a stock frame. Drivers were required to wear seat belts and helmets.

Standing water on the course made for an exciting show, forcing the drivers to maneuver carefully.

"I try to keep my truck in the air as much as possible and put on a show for everyone," said Ruff Truck competitor Louis McConnell. "But we do try and be as safe as possible."

McConnell races 25 to 30 similar competitions every year in his Jeep Cherokee. This is his fifth year in off-roading racing.

"We come out just to have a good time," McConnell said.

Finding a winner

Drivers competed for the best time by driving through an obstacle course in the grandstand area. The average time was about 1 minute and 30 seconds.

The eight-foot-wide course had a series of small jumps, a large jump followed by a figure-eight turn formation with two smaller jumps to the finish. Cones and tires marked the course for drivers.

After each driver went through the course once, there was a brief intermission.

Alan Tura from Southington provided entertainment during the break with his jet-powered monster truck, G-Force. He created his own course and demonstrated the truck's capabilities on the front straightaway, flames shooting from the thrower from the jet propulsion.

The intermission was followed by a drier second round of competition.

Drivers were judged on their time through the course and any penalties they may have earned. Penalties were acquired by hitting cones or missing an obstacle.

The better of each driver's two times on the course was the only time used in determining the winner.

Jeff Jackson from Stone Creek won first place overall in the Ruff Truck contest. Second went to Ron Halsey from Uricksville, third to Jim Kandel of New Philadelphia, fourth to Louis McConnell, also of New Philadelphia, and Carter Bidwell from Vienna received fifth place.

Purse for the Ruff Truck competition was $3,000. Jackson received $300 for first place.

For the schedule of more Ruff Truck Competitions this year, visit www.coshoctoncountyfair.org or contact Rodney Adams at (740) 623-0190.




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