Future of figure 8 uncertain as prize pool shrinks

Staff writer

After a raise in the entry fee and a reduction in the prize payout, Lloyd Anderson is adamant that he won’t participate in the county fair figure 8 race anymore. Not unless “drastic changes” are made.

Anderson said he paid a $20 entry fee in 2013 for a race that featured a $500 prize pool, with a $250 top prize and payouts for the top four finishers. This year, the entry fee was $30 and the prize pool was $170, top prize $120, with only the top three racers receiving payouts.

Demolition derby and figure 8 coordinator Ryan Hefley said the fair board voted to reduce the prize pool for the figure 8.

“The popularity is there, but the interest is dwindling on the fan side of things, to be brutally honest,” Hefley said.

Hefley said the board reallocated the funding to other events, including the semi-mod class of the demolition derby which was canceled due to lack of entries.

Rather than disperse the semi-mod’s $850 prize pool among the other events, the fair board elected to retain the funds for next year’s derby payouts.

Anderson said in order for him to return to the figure 8 next year, the fair board would have to raise the prize pool to a level comparable to the compact car demolition derby, which also is $850 featuring a $350 first prize.

Anderson and his brother-in-law Mike Brandt built six of the 10 cars entered in the figure 8 race.

Brandt thinks what’s happening to the figure 8 race is unfair, but understands the struggle of putting on the county fair.

“I don’t underestimate the challenge, and I don’t want to sound bitter,” he said. “They struggle every year to make every dollar stretch.”

Brandt said he wishes the fair board would publicize the event more to attract new drivers.

“(Anderson and I) are doing a lot, but we need some support back for this to continue,” he added.

Brandt said though he’s unhappy with the shrinking prize pool, he’s “not ready personally to step away” and will likely compete next year.

If Anderson refuses to participate and build cars, however, it will be a struggle for the event to continue.

The figure 8 race is placed strategically after the initial heats of the demo derby, giving the drivers a chance to repair their cars before the final heat.

“There’s a good symbiotic relationship between the figure 8 and the derby,” he said.

Anderson said he will continue to do figure 8 races elsewhere, but will not enter the county fair event. He was on the fair board for 27 years, and, frustrated by a lack of support for his ideas about the demolition derby, he stepped down.

“It seems like they don’t want the figure 8 race to continue,” Anderson said.

When asked if the figure 8 race would continue, Hefley, who is in charge of the demolition derby event, said — conditionally — that it would.

“If the interest is there, yeah.”

Mike Brandt’s wife, Deb Brandt, said fans of the event need to make their voices heard for it to continue.

“It’s not about the money, it’s kind of about disrespect,” she said. “If the community wants to support it, it needs to express to the fair board that there needs to be a little less gap in prize money.”

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