MOUNT VERNON — There was lots of slam-bang action, furious racing and knocked-out school buses Thursday night during the figure eight races at the Knox County Fair. When it was all over, Anthony Shaffer, a truck driver from Fredericktown, survived the carnage to win the feature race for long buses.
The short bus win went to Chris Lloyd of Sparta, a bus mechanic for Marion City Schools. There was only one race for the short buses; Lloyd’s bus survived after it was hit hard in the right side and knocked over onto its left side. Lloyd was not injured; a forklift tractor set the bus upright and Lloyd went on to win.
The win was even sweeter because Lloyd also won the race last year.
“We came to put on a show,” he said after the race.
The crash happened on lap 13 of the 25-lap race, when Jason Wilson slammed his bus into Lloyd. Putting on a little added show, Lloyd found some traffic flares rolling around inside the bus, and both drivers went around waving them at the crowd.
Two of the long bus racers were women; one, Jamie Beheler, finished second in her first heat and qualified for the finals. Jamie Shipley was the winner of the heat, driving smoothly and staying out of trouble, with his bus escaping the sometimes hard contact to emerge mostly unscathed.
Colt Kaser and Anthony Shaffer joined Shipley and Beheler in the finals. Almost immediately Shipley’s bus starting taking hits in the close, no-quarters racing. Then a bang into his front end put the steering out of order. Kaser, who in his first heat escaped pretty much without taking any hits, got clobbered.
While all of this mayhem was going on, Beheler slipped by and took the lead. Driving smoothly, she maintained a two-lap lead over Shaffer, who was held up the other buses. Kaser, who was trying to get going again, backed into the line of racing buses, clobbering Beheler’s bus hard on its nose. The bus ran for a half lap, then expired.
Shaffer motored on to claim the win, but did so without a left front tire that blew out and was chewed up in pieces; it came off the wheel. Kaser did get his bus going again and finished second.
Earlier in the evening, Shaffer and his mechanic helpers prepared his bus for the evening’s races. Because radiators are prone to damage, they took the radiator out, built a heavy metal cage over the front of the engine, then mounted the radiator in the center of the bus, out of the way of any crash damage.
When the race was over, the Cummins diesel engine was running cool and smooth. Shaffer will take the bus to a Morrow County school bus race next month.