Thursday, June 23, 2011

Lakeside's Danny Leetch takes First Place at Demolition Derby

San Diego County Fair-

In 2010, Danny Leetch got the bug to try his luck in the demolition derby arena. The Firefighter Demolition Derby was the perfect venue as the proceeds from this effort would go to burn survivors. With the financial backing of the Lakeside Firefighters Association, Danny would locate and purchase a 1973 Cadillac Coupe Deville. After extensive repairs and modifications the vehicle was ready to participate in the 2010 event. But this was not going to have a happy ending. As the vehicles rolled out to the arena, the vehicle suffered a mechanical break-down that would prevent it's participation.

Danny Leetch with his best supporter....wife Rory.
Undaunted by this event Danny continued to maintain the vehicle for an entire year. After months of final preparation work the only thing Danny needed was funds for the entry fee. One day, Danny had the idea to drag the vehicle up to a local shopping center in Lakeside and see if he could generate some interest.

Danny Leetch accepts the trophy from James Floros (Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer) of the Burn Institute.
Not only did the crowds show up, but they were very supportive of Danny's effort. With almost $900 collected Danny needed some sponsors to assist with additional costs. Paytons Hardware (Lakeside), Black Mountain Bikes (Mira Mesa), and Famulare Jewelers (Carlsbad) stepped up and sponsored Danny for the approaching event.

All Danny needed now was a pit crew to assist him on the day of the event. In stepped Danny's family and a number of off-duty firefighters.

Danny accepts the checkered flag.
Danny mixes it up with the 16 car from San Miguel, and the 225 from Viejas.
Danny puts a nasty hit on the CalFire car.
In a bit of a pile-up.
The first heat was a well-fought battle and having placed second, Danny would now move on to the finals. But a problem existed. The rear of the Cadillac had been damaged so badly that the pit crew was unable to remove a flat rear tire. In addition, the radiator had blown in the first heat and nobody knew how long the giant V8 would hold out.

The radiator on the 2-20 gives out in the first heat.
Crews attempted to bend the metal away from the tire with pry bars....but no luck. Fortunately the pit crew located additional pry bars and an axe that was used to cut away the fender.

With less than a minute to spare, Danny was back in the seat and headed out for the final event.

The Lakeside 2-20 goes after the 34 car from National City.
All the brother and sister firefighter/drivers after the event. Everyone appears to have survived another year.
With a mortally wounded radiator, Danny's strategy was basic.....go out and do as much damage before the engine blew-up. And Danny did just that! Using both the front and back of the vehicle, Danny was making headway. At one point the 2-20 just quit running....but after some TLC the old girl re-fired.

In the end, Danny had taken the trophy for first place. The 2-20 had hung on by a thread. With two gallons of gas left in the tank, a bent rear axle, bent steering, and an engine so hot it had managed to melt away most of the plastic parts, the 2-20 had done its job.

Click here to see the Pomerado News story on the event.

Photos By: Captain Mark Grow, Lakeside Fire Disrtict
Video Courtesy of: Burn Institute

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