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World's First Combine Demolition Derby
The world's first combine demolition derby took place last July at the Brandon, Manitoba Provincial Exhibition and a 17-year-old U.S. farm boy, who had never driven a combine before, walked away the winner.
More than 3,000 fans and two national TV networks were on hand as the eight giant machines crashed their way through four elimination heats leading up to a final confrontation featuring the four finalists. After endless smash-ups, Tom Swenson, of Little Falls, Minn., emerged the winner.
Ernie Brookins, president of International Truck and Tractor Pulls of Fargo, N.D., conceived the idea for the combine derby and says that, so far as he knows, there has never been another.
"We didn't know what to expect but the first derby in Brandon proved to be highly entertaining, drawing big crowds and providing lots of excitement," he told FARM SHOW."It's the only demolition sport where the driver is in full view of the crowd because most of the old combines don't have cabs. Since all the drivers are local participants, the crowd enjoys watching the reactions of the driver as he operates the machine."
Brookins, who has promoted various motor sports for the past 15 years, says he's copyrighted the combine demolition derby idea. Since the first contest in July, he has staged several more successful derbies at fairs throughout the Midwest.
Most of the demolition combines are older model Deere machines that contestants buy for an average price of $50 to $250. While it sometimes takes a little effort to get them running again, once started, Brookins says the old machines run great.
"Most combines become outdated because they don't have enough capacity, not because they're worn out. The engines are usually still good," he says.
Brookins says the combines are "practically indestructible" except for their exposed rear axle. After a recent derby in Minot, N. Dak., six of the 12 combines entered were still in running condition after the event.
"Some stop because drive belts pop off or a wire gets knocked off the coil. The combines must have a grain header on to enter and sometimes that is twisted into the ground so the combine gets hung up. One driver filled the wheels with water and, when the tires were punctured, he got stuck in his own mud," says Brookins.
Each contest features 9 to 12 combines, running in 3 to 4 heats. The most expensive machine entered to date was a $10,000 Coop Implements combine.
For more information, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Ernie Brookins, International Truck and Tractor Pulls, Rt. 2, Fargo, N. Dak. 58102 (ph 701 282-7913).

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1983 - Volume #7, Issue #5