Boone Derby Main 1

By Bob Balgemann


BELVIDERE – Grandstands and trackside seats were filled Sunday, Aug. 16 for both the 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. demolition derbies that helped conclude the 156th Boone County Fair.

Drivers were competing to see whose cars would be left running when the heats and features came to a close.

That’s what their fans came to see.

But those who looked closely saw more than that. There were messages on many of the cars other than the names of companies that were supporting them.

Take Ty McElroy as an example.

“We’re trying to get a message across,” the Belvidere resident said of the red, white, and blue verbiage on his car. It called attention to the fact that in this country, 22 veterans of military service take their lives each day.

It’s all about awareness,” he said of the 11 headstones with the date, Aug. 16 on each side of the car. “I try to have a different theme each year.”

Check the website,, for more information.

Competing in demolition derbies is a hobby of his, the U.S. Navy veteran said, something he’s been doing for 15 years. This year he competed in the stock show at 1 p.m. and was hoping to break a lengthy dry spell of not finishing in the money.

Life Motorsports is the name of his team with the Life standing for “Let It Fly Extreme,” in memory of teammate Steve Radaha, who died of a heart attack at 39 a couple of years ago. One of the Belvidere Youth Baseball coaches, McElroy said his friend would tell ballplayers to “let it fly” and always give 100 percent.

Boone Derby Main 2

Hausers back again

Brothers Ethan and Nathan Hauser were back for another go at it, together having accumulated 15 years of demolition derby contests. Their friendly competition dates to the time when they were students at Belvidere North (Ethan) and Belvidere (Nathan) high schools in Boone County.

Their cars were parked next to one another in pit row Sunday, outside the derby track at the county fairgrounds. Next to them was Dan Green, who at nine years had just a little more time on the track than the Hausers.

“We work together,” Green said. “We’re two groups that formed to be one almost complete group. We could put together one decent car.”

For them, the Boone County derby “is like a party, a friends reunion every year.”

Green’s wife of two months, Samantha, said her husband “talks to Nathan more than he does to me. I’ve learned to wait until the phone is put down.”

Promoter Tory Schutte from wrapped up his third season and is enthused about the 2016 competition. He said he’s been to fairs around the nation and has found the Boone County Fair to be the best of them all. “None of the others can hold a candle to it,” he said.

Boone Derby Main 3

It was a strong weekend for the fair, what with attendance at Saturday night’s Josh Turner concert the best ever an event that night. “He did an excellent job,” said Jack Ratcliffe, vice president of the fair board who coordinates entertainment with Bob Schaefer.

Overall attendance still was being determined but a couple of hot days and some rain kept it from approaching the 200,000 mark, as it did in 2013 and 2014. In those years temperatures were in the 70s for the entire six days, with no rain.


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