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'Last of the Hell Drivers' to take final lap at Erie County Fair

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Sat, Aug 17th 2019 06:50 pm

‘Ultimate Night of Destruction’ to feature legendary stuntman Tonny Petersen

At 84 years old, Tonny Petersen has defied death hundreds of times during his 65-year career as an automotive stunt performer. Tonight, Tonny takes one last spin on the Erie County Fair track as he looks death in the face once again, to perform one of his most famous stunts. The Erie County Fair welcomes Petersen, the “Last of the Legendary Hell Drivers,” as part of the 2019 edition of the “Ultimate Night of Destruction” at 7 p.m.

“Petersen is one of the all-time greats in automobile thrill show history,” said Erie County Fair Marketing Manager Marty Biniasz. “He is truly one of the last in a long line of ‘Hell Drivers’ who descended from such legendary names as Lucky Teeter, Irish Horan and Joie Chitwood.”

Petersen came to the U.S. in the early 1950s from Copenhagen, Denmark. Originally a performing acrobat, he joined the famous Jack Kochman Hell Drivers Show in 1957 where he perfected the art of two-wheel driving. It was during the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair that Petersen starred in 3,700 consecutive shows driving brand-new Dodge automobiles in front of millions of fairgoers.

Following a 28-year career with Kochman, Petersen packed up his skills and took them to the movies, performing high-speed precision skills as a Hollywood stunt driver. In 1990, Petersen moved out of the movie scene and started a 13-year streak as the stunt coordinator and star driver of Charlie Belknap's Hollywood Stunt Show before headlining his own show bearing his name. 

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