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Grandstand auto racing makes big comeback at Lycoming County Fair

By Staff | Jul 27, 2016

HUGHESVILLE – During fair week, the demolition derby heats are one of the most popular events. For the past 30 years this annual race has attracted drivers and racing enthusiasts from all over the east coast.

For the first time, the heat events were sponsored and organized by Lycoming Fair Motorsports, a newly formed organization that came together to help with the fair after the administration approached them to run the 8 championship derby races.

Lorne Crawford was the emcee for the event along with Justin Gardner. The Lycoming County Motor Sports is a 100 percent volunteer organization according to Crawford. It was formed in the fall of 2015 and they have been working on the derby events for the fair ever since.

There were 100 registered drivers and 30 cars registered in the first heat alone. A youth derby was held on Friday, July 15th and was one of the most well attended of all according to Todd Arthur, one of the main organizers and a volunteer.

The Kids Power Wheels on Saturday, July 16th was new this year for ages 4 to 11 and there is a video online that went viral related Arthur. “It was released at midnight on Saturday July 16th and to date there have been 2.8 million views across the world,” he said. “We have received so many phone calls from fairs from Maryland to Florida asking us how to put on an event like that! It made for a great week,” Arthur said. Thirty-six youth participated in the youth power wheels division.

RUTH FRY/The Luminary Members of the Lycoming County Motor Sports organized and volunteered for the 8 demolition derby and figure "8" races at the Lycoming County Fair. Lorne Crawford (far left in third row) was the emcee.

Crawford said Saturday the 16th was a “sell-out event.” Thursday, July 21st was the final race and it was “all but sold out.” The champions of that race will go on to Bloomsburg. They were Blaine Myers from Hughesville and Sam ‘Billy’ Jacobs from Muncy. Best of show went to Matt Hill, who drove the Pete Crawford memorial car.

Funding for the races came from driver registrations, corporate sponsorships and ticket sales. This was the first year that more money was put into the driver’s pockets. Formerly Jay-M Productions, a nationwide company from North Carolina would run the demo derby races and much of the costs went to them according to Crawford. “This year driving awards came to more than $5,000 in cash for the drivers. We had the largest group of driving racers in over twenty years,” admitted Crawford. The Championship heat drive paid $1500 alone.

Arthur said the contract was up with Jay-M at the fair and the board approached Lycoming County Motor Sports “not making it so contractual as in the past.”

“Yes, we will do it,” said Arthur, “and help the fair.”

Many of the members are past demo derby drivers or figure 8 racers. “We wanted to try something new to get the enthusiasm back and enhance the derby races to make them much more exciting.” Meanwhile the crowds went crazy and loved the show said the volunteers who also said that attendance had been low in previous years.

PHOTO PROVIDED The Youth Power Wheels division took place on Saturday, July 16 and had 35 participants. The event was recorded and put on the internet with almost 3 million views so far. It is a first time event for the Lycoming County Fair.

“A lot of effort is put into running everything smoothly. This is no small feat,” added Arthur. Imagine the time spent into building the cars, 6 months of work to build them and get them ready, just to smash them in the demolition. All involved came out with nothing but positive input. “It was really the dedication of the volunteers and the drivers and their families. Without their participation, our shows would be nothing,” Arthur said. “They’re the rock stars.”

RUTH FRY/The Luminary A full crowd cheered with excitement on Thursday night, July 21st during the fair's championship demolition derby.

RUTH FRY/The Luminary Common are crashes at the annual championship demolition derby at the Lycoming County Fair which featured full size 6 and 8 cylinder stock and 4 cylinder stock. Over 100 drivers participated in the demo derby events during fair week.