Effingham Co. Fair's 50th Annual Auto Demolition Derby Saturday


Published on August 11 2017 9:51 am
Last Updated on August 11 2017 9:51 am
Written by Millie Lange

The roar of the engines will reverberate around the Effingham County Fairground grandstands Saturday evening as the 50th Annual Demolition Derby gets underway at 6:30 p.m.

Kurt Becker sent several notes on the event and following are some interesting notes on the past winners.

The roster of past winners is rich with local and area drivers . . . names like Hoelscher, Zerrusen and Herboth of Teutopolis, Tim Koester in Effingham and more.

Robert "Butch" Hoelscher of Teutopolis was the first driver from Effingham County ever to win the feature in 1977.

The Zerrusen family ran a car in 1986 which was painted in the Teutopolis school colors and nicknamed the "Shoemobile". Don Zerrusen drove the car and took runner-up to his brother Scott that night.

Tim Koester won the feature in 1991 and again in 2008. But in 2012, while competing in the opening heat, he suffered a heart attack. He began experiencing chest pain while he was literally behind the wheel and competing in the event. He won the heat, drove the car to the pits and sought medical attention.

A few female drivers have competed against the men over the years in the modified division, which is the top rung among the various classes. These include Lisa (Hoelscher) Rexroat, who in 1984 won the opening heat and became the first female driver ever to win a heat against the men; Bridgot Hoelscher of Teutopolis, who took runner-up in the feature event in 1985, which is still the best finish ever in the modified feature by a female driver and Sandy Ruholl of Teutopolis (mid-1980s) and Susan Becker of Altamont (early 1990s) who also had success competing against the men.

Jason Herboth of Teutopolis, won the feature in 2009, 2010 and 2015. He is a military veteran who was still on active duty at the time of those first two wins.

Rob Harder in 1987 became the first Altamont driver to win the feature and ranks as the winningest of all time in the event with seven career feature triumphs. He and his son will be competing. His son Robert graduated from Rose Hulman Institute of Technolgoy in May with a degree in engineering.

Larry Zerrusen (1984), his sons Don (1982, 1985) and Scott (1986) and grandson Lee Ruholl (2003) have all won the modified feature. The only family to see three generations of feature winners in the event.

Be sure to stop by the building that houses the antiques and hobby winners where photos of the derby winners from the past are up on the east wall.