Stunts thrill fair-goers

Thick clouds of dust coated awed faces and wide eyes in the grandstand stadium at the Ottawa County Fairgrounds on Friday night.
Julie Angell
Jul 26, 2014

 

The dust clouds came from the world-famous Black Cat Thrill Drivers, a group who brings comedy, danger and fun to fairs like the one this week at the Ottawa County Fairgrounds. The group’s real name is the Black Cat Hell Drivers, but the name was changed for Friday’s family-friendly show.

A slight drizzle postponed the show for a half-hour, but the skies cleared just in time for the drivers to show their stunts.

The dangerous and thrilling automotive stunts date back to the 1930s. Drivers Tonny Petersen and Johnny Wiser have been a part of Black Cat Hell Drivers for decades, and the automotive stunt show is now the only one of its kind to perform in North America.

A barren and beat-up white van laid next to another van propped up on its rear end, being held up by wooden beams. Petersen and Wiser flew along the track, drifted in front of the stadium and introduced themselves to the crowd.

Keeping the fun from stopping was a comic stunt clown, Justin Bellinger, and an animated announcer who boasted the crew’s “Hollywood stunts.” The stunts ranged from calculated crashes, death-defying jumps and balancing acts on the cars’ front wheels.

The name “Hell Drivers” comes from the term that famous stunt driver Earl "Lucky" Teter coined in the 1930s. Teter is honored at the Black Cat Hell Drivers’ shows since his death during one of his stunts.

The fair concludes tonight when the grandstand will feature automotive fun from Unique Motor Sports.

 

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