While visiting relatives in southern Ohio, my cousins took me to a very strange
and unique event—a combine derby. For you who do not know, a combine is a
giant machine used to harvest crops. After they have lived their harvesting lives,
farmers paint and decorate them, maybe add a couch and an inflatable alligator
or two, and make a character out of them. But that is not the end. They bring
them to the county fair and enter a combine derby.

In case you haven’t figured it out, a combine derby is a demolition derby, but
instead of using cars, the vehicles used are combine harvesters.
There were 3 different heats in the combine derby and in each heat 5 or 6
combines competed. They would smash into each other until they couldn’t
smash anymore. One of the deadliest attacks was to pop an opponent’s tire,
generally rendering them useless. The last combine still able to move advanced
to the finals. But, as I later found out, everyone who wanted to go to the finals

could, because between heats the mechanics had the opportunity to repair their
vehicles. So, I don’t really see the point in having 3 heats leading up to the
finals. But anyway, in between each heat there was a smaller side event. These
sideshow events included the slowest tractor race, tractor barrel push, and the
blind tractor race.

The final match of the derby was the best. Since everyone could enter it,
everybody’s favorite was back with a vengeance. So, there were about 12
combines in this round. This match lasted a long time. Some of the combines
were stopped cold by the crashing, others ran out of gas. The last two
remaining combines couldn’t inflict any damage on each other. Like the Monitor
and the Merrimac, they kept hitting each other and nothing was happening. This
went on for about a half an hour until the match was finally called a draw. They
split the prize money.

Being from the city I never knew such a thing as a combine derby existed. Now
like my cousin Alan I holler “Go for the tires.”