Stuntmen light up fairgrounds

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 29, 2007

ROME TOWNSHIP — So what makes a man want to be a thrill show driver?

Well, in Derrick Riddle’s case he was born into it since his dad, Paul, is the owner of the Imperial Stunt Drivers, who performed Tuesday night at the Lawrence County Fair.

“He was on the road when he was six days old,” Paul Riddle said.

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“I was born into this, been doing it all my life,” Derrick Riddle said.

A thrill show is precision driving of cars, some of which don’t survive the experience.

The Imperial Stunt Drivers show included a motorcycle jumper, brand new cars that come close to colliding, a guy set on fire, and three junk cars that were bought just to be crashed.

While the company is based in New Hampshire, the crew is from all over the states, Europe, Canada and Barbados, and spends from early June to late September on the county fair circuit.

He said the fascination for the crowd is that this is stuff they normally only see in movies.

“Here it’s live, it is one take for each thing,” he said. “We get one shot and that’s it.”

Derrick Riddle’s favorite stunt is one called the sidewinder, which is when one car is driven toward a parked car that has a four-foot ramp in front of it.

“You drive at quite a high rate of speed and hit head on and it sends you through the air,” he said “And when you land, you keep flipping.”

And is the show as dangerous as it looks?

“Let me put it this way; I’ve been given last rites four times,” Paul Riddle said. “And I’m not even Catholic. It’s pretty dangerous, things break on cars.”