Tough Truck contest: Anything goes

Photos courtesy of Harold B. Wolford
Vehicles of all kinds will catch air as they speed through the Tough Truck course on July 12. This year marks the first time the contest is being held in Madison County. Anyone with a driver’s license and a vehicle can enter.

(Posted July 7, 2017)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

Want to see trucks and cars go airborne? Then check out—or sign up for—the Tough Truck contest, a new addition to the fair’s grandstand entertainment set for 7 p.m. July 12.

Entrants speed through a circular course featuring five to seven dirt ramps, each three to four feet high. Time penalties are assessed for missed ramps. The course stretches the length of the truck- and tractor-pulling track in front of the grandstands. Finishers with the fastest times split a $5,000 purse.

“I’ve seen Tough Truck at the Delaware and Croton fairs and always wanted to do it,” said George Roby, organizer of Madison County’s contest. “We had an open night in the fair schedule this year. I thought, ‘Now is the time to try it.’ ” The contest replaces the rodeo.

Anyone can enter and just about any vehicle goes. Don’t let the name fool you. Cars are welcome, too.

“Cars, SUVs, pickups, anything that moves,” Roby said. “The only rules I know of are that you have to have a driver’s license, a seatbelt, and be somewhat street legal. As long as you’re strapped in and it looks like a vehicle, you can run.”

The cost to enter is $20. Sign-ups take place the night of the contest. Turnout determines how many runs each person gets: one if the field is big; two if it’s small.

“I would be happy this first year if we had 50 to 60 trucks,” Roby said, noting the Croton contest draws as many as 150.

A group of 30 to 40 enthusiasts make a summer of entering multiple Tough Truck contests around the state. These folks beef up their suspensions and frames. But there also are folks who give it a one-time whirl with what they have on hand.

“If you have an old pickup in the barn that you want to tear up, bring it out!” Roby said.

Because this is the first year for the contest in Madison County, Roby is keeping things simple: a basic course and one open class. If it goes over well, he said he’ll consider more involved obstacles and separate street and modified classes for future contests.

Admission for spectators is the cost of general admission to the fair plus $5 for a grandstand seat or $10 for a pit pass.

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