Fair People: Tim Bernard, Deerfield Valley Farmers' Days

09/07/05 12:00AM By Susan Keese
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(Host) Fair people... On the agriculture side, they celebrate the harvest. Elsewhere on the grounds there are many other special skills on display.

Today in our series on fair people, we hear from Tim Bernard of Jacksonville.

He's a longtime competitor in the Demolition Derby, a big draw at the Deerfield Valley Farmers' Days in Wilmington.

(Cars idling in background)

(Bernard) "Hi, I'm Tim Bernard... I've been doing demolition derbies for 23 years in Wilmington.

It's fun you can see how long your car lasts, how much destruction it'll take. Then if you make it through the heat, see how much work you got to do to get back into it again. It's fun. Crowd really gets into it. It's a good time.

This is an 85 Buick LeSabre, four-door. You know it's a fairly large car, V-8, real strong, should do quite well. I'm doing this car in memory of a girl that got killed on Route 9, so that's why I did it the way it's painted. It says Kayla's Angels' on there. It says In memory of our Kayla Lackey. She's always in our hearts.'

Kayla was really into pink. So that's why it's pink, got butterflies all over it.

It takes you two three days to get one ready if you work right at it. You take out all the interior out and the glass ... all that stuff...anything that's flammable other than the driver's seat. And then you move the gas tank inside the car. Hittin' people in the back of the car in the gas tank's not too good. So we move em into the passenger's where it's safe. And we move the battery in the front seat too. That way your battery doesn't get smashed and you lose all your contact."

(Chain rattling)

(Bernard) "Chains holds the doors shut so the doors don't flap open. Then they just use like half inch chain, so you can cut it with bolt cutters in case there's a fire in there and you need to get out. I wear a fire suit, helmet and gloves. Most guys go in like this, tee shirt and pants. All the years I've been here, no one's had to go out in the ambulance.

So we run a pretty safe derby. Everybody here's friends. Everybody knows everybody. So you're out there banging on your friends."

(Engines rev up)

(Bernard) "It's like an adrenalin rush you know, when you get in there ready to hit, then they count down from five. It gets your heart rate going."

(Woman's voice on loudspeaker) Ready? Five, four, three, two one - Go! - Audience screams)

(Bernard) "The rules are - you have to hit a live car every sixty seconds. You're sposed to stay competitive. You can't just ride around and not let anybody hit you. No hitting of the drivers doors. That's pretty much it.

In each heat they go down to the last car running. Them three cars automatically go to the final. Basically the last car moving, running and making hits is the winner.

I don't think it's for every person. I would say it appeals for the more daring, outgoing type kid. Plus you gotta have a little mechanical ability.

I don't know what draws it. It's just a big family event. It's a good day for it, so far. I think they're just about getting ready to line up another heat."

(Woman's voice on loudspeaker) "Okay, our qualifiers for the fourth and final heat

(Host) Tim Bernard came in fourth in this year's Deerfield Valley Demolition Derby.

This installment in our series was produced by Susan Keese.
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