The Lion Tamer


The Lion Tamer a fierce competitor, and the only entry with an all-woman team. Dawn Lobe, driver, was extremely competitive and heavily targeted in the arena. Although she won many heats, she was never able to compete in the final round. The men drivers liked to take out that little Massey, and they did so with grit and determination. The combine, however, always won the prize for the best decorated, and it was just enough incentive for the woman’s team to quit on a good note. Since retirement, the combine has been used to advertise the popular event. It was a show-stopper in the Lilac Parade when bewildered spectators asked, "What is it?" The following year, it stopped the show when a break down couldn’t be repaired. The Lion Tamer has a history, in 2007, the combine was used again in the derby. Auctioned off, it finally ended up in the hands of Curt Franz who entered it in the derby. Bernie’s Beta Blocker was a crowd pleaser, but didn’t make it to the final round.  Currently, the combine is in a corner field collecting attention as well as a lot of Adams County Rain. (dust). We sadly say ‘good-bye’ to a Class Act!

THE COMBINE DEMOLITION DERBY
Story by Carol Kelly
 

It was 1988 and after 9 days, Lind's Centennial Celebration was winding down. A huge crowd lined Lind's streets for the Centennial Parade. The crowd was still "buzzing", exchanging stories about Lind's first combine demolition derby. Not only was the event a new experience for participants and spectators, it resulted in a record-breaking crowd and one of Lind's only traffic jams. As the announcer introduced the combines and their drivers, a line of cars lined the highway from city center to the new arena. And this was only the beginning! The Lions Club just sponsored their 21st  derby, an event that continues to grow, continues to get better, and continues to be one of the most popular events during the Lions Club's annual weekend. This year, approximately 5,000 spectators were welcomed into the Lind Arena to sit in a state of the art facility with six metal bleachers and an efficient cook shack, a grilled oyster bar, the FFA Porker, and a shaved ice booth, and of course, the ever-popular beer garden. The fans love the camaraderie and enjoy watching the most incredible and unusual event in the Pacific Northwest, the Combine Demolition Derby™.

The derby was introduced to the club by Lions Club member, Bill Loomis. (Bill is the owner of Loomis Truck and Tractor, the local implement dealer.) Intrigued by his enthusiasm, the suggestion was accepted by a very supportive Lions Club. Since then, the event has grown and become a "one of a kind" sensation, possibly the only one in the Pacific Northwest, bringing spectators from far and wide. In 2009, 16 combines entered the arena and performed before a capacity crowd of approximately 5,000 spectators. Twelve towns were represented with combines in the Derby.

Want to be a participant?  All you have to do is find a combine, gather together a willing pit crew, modify the machine to meet the rule and regulation list, and find a willing sponsor ($100.00 sponsor fee). Then the work begins.  Sometimes it's a treasure hunt when a particular part is found in the back of a field or the crew makes a deal; a part in exchange for a part!  After that, it's a piece of cake and the fun begins!

Each year, derby committees fine-tune the rules and regulations to make the derby safe, as well as entertaining. The rules are simple. Combines, at least 25 years old and useless for the wheat field, are modified. Dangerous reels, sickle guards, glass and equipment parts are removed, and since safety is a first, all drivers are protected with helmets, safety belts and protective bars. Their mission in the arena, of course, is to disable an opponent's combine so that it no longer moves. (A combine is eliminated from one of the three "heats" if it has not made physical contact with an opponent in five minutes.) After each heat, a "repair time" gives capable crews time to get their machines back for the final heat and the popular "championship" round! When disabled machines are drug from the arena the bets are being made in the stands. Will they get it running and back in the arena for the final heat?

The real credit for the success of the derby lies with the drivers. Fine-tuned in the area, they are true showmen who put on a show! They know how to please an audience, and please the audience is what they do best. If they happen to leave the arena with extra cash, well...it's just an extra incentive. And they all leave with next year's plan being formulated. They will make many modifications to their strategy and wait the 365 days to test their skill. They will do better the following year!

And for some real excitement, one only has to meander through the area behind the arena. (Of course, buy a pit pass first) Combine crews work against the clock repairing combines for the final round. And camaraderie is evident. Everyone lends a helping hand, lends a tool, or offers sound advice. A crippled combine is the concern of all crews, and with the help of one another, nearly everyone gets in the final heat. The only noticeable aggression is during the competition in the arena, and then it's a totally different story. When the flag is dropped to start the action, the mood change is dramatic! Grit and determination from the driver, screaming and yelling advice from the crew, and applause and support from the fans leads to a whole new atmosphere. Put that together with the clanging of the giant machines, metal scraping metal, and it's almost deafening.

And long after the derby is over with and the arena is cleared for the next day's activities, the crushing sound of metal hitting metal still reverberates in the memories of those who participated and those who watched the spectacular event. Winners are congratulated and the losers plot, "I'll get him next time, I'll go for the rear tires!"

Winners in 2011 were pleased. Out of 20 combines, only 9 were admitted into the championship round. It was a fight to the finish as the remaining combines , one by one, succumbed to the massive and destructive blows until only four were left ‘running’. It was a true battle of the metal before the judges finally made the call, crowning two winners, each splitting 1st and 2nd place prizes, one 3rd place finisher and one 4th place finisher. Total purse for the event exceeds $10,000, and everyone who participates in a heat will go home with some cash. Drivers are paid for heat wins, best decorations, and of course the final championship round is a huge award for the top drivers. 2011 champions took home $1600+ in the championship round plus money for heat wins and having one of the top three best decorated combines. Check out the Winners page for a list of winners and their awards.

It's a great event and worth the $15.00 it takes to get inside the gate. So, if you want something to do the 2nd weekend in June, drop by the Lions Club Arena in Lind, Washington. Plan to stick around for two or three hours, plan to be totally entertained, and then try to explain the event to someone who has never been around a farming community. Decorating, smashing, and demolishing a 10,000+ pound machine? You've got to be kidding!

For pictures and more information, browse the entire Lind Website. Don’t forget to visit Lind and take in the new and exciting car derby and truck , and pickup races, also. There's something for everyone! Join the fun! You'll be glad you did!!

 

 Unless otherwise noted, pictures on this page are courtesy of Carol Kelly, Lind, WA.


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Page updated, August 5, 2013