Demolition derby driver enjoys putting cars back together
Published 9:57 am Tuesday, August 12, 2014
A passion for smashin’
TWIN LAKES — It started with a ’65 Ford Fairlane.
Ryan Linde was 16 years old, and the car was given to him after collecting dust in his grandmother’s garage.
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“I just tore into it, tore it apart and put it back together,” he said. “Ever since then, I’ve been tearing them apart and putting them back together.”
Linde, 42, no longer owns the Fairlane, but he has a fleet of classic rides, including a ’70 Chevrolet Camaro Z28, a ’32 Chevy sedan and a ’36 Dodge sedan.
The motoring enjoyment has been passed on to his stepson, Dalton Bradley. Along with restoring a ’49 Chevy truck together, Linde helped Bradley get his first derby car, a ’96 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, ready for the Mower County Fair Sunday in Austin.
“My favorite part is working on them,” Linde said. “I’m just about done, and my son is starting.”
Bradley took third place in the mid-size division, while Linde finished fourth in the same class. Linde’s brother, Kevin Joel, also competed and took second place in the mini division.
Linde and Joel had even more success a week earlier during the Freeborn County Fair’s demolition derby in Albert Lea. The brothers won two of the four divisions. Joel’s stock van took first place in the mini division, while Linde and his modified ‘62 Ford truck with a 360 Chevy engine won its division.
“It’s a full-weld truck, and it took me 3 1/2 years to build,” Linde said. “There’s about 150 feet of square tubing welded to the frame. It will not bend. It’s made to hit.”
The brothers didn’t compete in the same class this year, but Joel — who’s been driving in derbies for five years — said they have in the past.
“We ran mid-size together before,” he said. “It makes it a lot of fun.”
Joel said the shop at Linde’s farm is where all of his derby cars have been stripped and modified.
Linde said his first demolition derby was in ’97, and the first time he entered the trucks division was ’98.
“The good thing about a truck — even a stock truck — you can get three runs out of it before its junk, so you can have a little fun,” he said. “You can get 20 to 30 demos out of these mod trucks.”
In 2009, Linde went wild with derby cars. He said he wrecked 29 that year and was able to do so because he scrapped metal in his spare time.
“Whenever I find a cheap car, I buy it up,” he said. “If they run, we keep ’em until we have a little fun with them. If they don’t, then we just cut them apart and scrap them out.”
Linde is a ’91 graduate of Albert Lea High School and a graduate of South Central Technical College, which is now Kirkwood Community College.
He originally signed up for classes to be a diesel mechanic, but switched to the electrician track. For the last 15 years, Linde has worked for E&I Specialists out of Sioux Falls, S.D., wiring ethanol plants, he said. The company is building a prototype ethanol plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa, and Linde said he is the electrical superintendent in charge of running a crew of 45 workers.
When he’s not working for E&I Specialists or on cars, Linde said he enjoys taking his Winchester Super X, 12-guage shotgun duck and deer hunting.
“We’re pretty religious when it comes to hunting,” he said. “We go around Upper Twin (Lake) and Pickerel (Lake).”
Address: 71848 154th St., Albert Lea
Livelihood: electrical superintendent for E&I Specialists out of Sioux Falls, S.D.
Family: wife, Carol Linde; stepson Dalton Bradley; stepdaughter Katie Linde
Interesting fact: Ryan met Carol on the match.com dating website.