During the last Memorial Day weekend, drivers from all over the United States and Canada were gathered in Chillicothe, Ohio. They were there to enter their cars in the “Bash for Cash” Demolition Derby.
It was Levi Smith, a local young man from Bradford County who won first place out there in his heat.
“Derbies seem to be popular on the east coast,” said Smith. “But really popular in the Midwest.”
Smith, who grew up in Springfield Township, was one of about 25 other drivers who competed in the 1980’s and newer wire class of cars at the derby in Ohio.
“Wire means you have a stock body and frame,” explained Smith. “And you wire the doors, hood and trunk shut.”
Smith entered a Mercury Marquis from the early 1980’s that he had purchased from an individual in East Smithfield. According to Smith, it had a Mopar 318 motor in it.
“All that means is Chrysler Plymouth Dodge made it,” said Smith. “Runs good.”
When Smith bought the car it had no motor and no transmission. It was just the body. He had to install a motor and transmission.
“I have a slider drive shaft,” said Smith, who explained that with that type of drive shaft, it bolts to the transmission and makes it expandable so that he can keep driving even if it gets bent.
Smith qualified to enter his car in this derby because he put his own car together and followed the rules. The car was inspected before the derby by professional demolition derby inspectors.
“It’s an unlimited drive train class,” explained Smith. “You can pretty much do what you want to with the drive train.”
At the “Bash for Cash” Derby, Smith drew a poker chip with a number on it out of a bucket. The number one, two or three on the chip determined the heat he competed in.
There were about 75 drivers in Smith’s class and about 25 in his heat.
“They run one heat for entertainment rather than ‘heat and feature.’ It makes for more aggressive driving,” said Smith. “And more exciting for the audience.”
Smith explained that running in one heat means he had only one “heat” to drive in rather than qualifying in a heat in order to get to the next and so on.
Smith has been driving forklifts, skid steers, tractors and other equipment since he was little. It only stands to reason that his interest in derby cars would start when he started driving cars.
He has been driving in derbies for about four years. He has entered the Troy Fair, Tioga County Fair, Wyoming County Fair and other local tracks.
Smith has won first place in Burlington and placed at the Troy Fair, Wyoming County Fair and Tioga County Fair. And his win in Ohio just recently shows just how good his skills have progressed in four years. What does he credit his success to?
“I’ve got a good group of guys who help me out,” said Smith. “Tyler May and Shawn Hart – we help each other out.”
“I also credit my success to my parents, Terren and Randall Smith,” continued Smith. “I was raised good.”
Smith is planning to enter the Demolition Derby at this year’s Troy Fair, planned for July 23 through July 28 at Alparon Park in Troy, but not in the same car.
“Anybody can go out there and hold a pedal to the floor and junk something,” said Smith. “You’ve got to drive smart.”
Smith says you can’t drive slowly. You’ve got to think and plan your moves. Stay calm. That’s where his skills led to his success.
“It’s like an aggressive chess match,” said Levi Smith. “It’s a hobby. I go out to have fun. If you care too much about winning, it’s not going to come to you.”