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Published on July 25th, 2013 | by DDL HQ


DEC HEADERS – A Lot Less Fires!

By Michael Amann

Doug Crouse knows derby cars. The president of DEC Headers has driven in two derbys, but is quick to point out he is in no way a current driver. “I’m 67 years old!” he laughs. However, his male progeny are more currently associated with actual demolition derbies. “All three of my sons have been very active in the derbies,” he says. Crouse adds that his youngest son, Tom Crouse, is going to be a part of the derby held in Bellefontaine, Ohio.

The eldest Crouse credits the family’s interest in derbies as the genesis for his company. “We started making derby headers as a hobby,” says Crouse. DEC Headers started in his shop way back in 1989. “It’s been growing ever since,” His oldest son Chris as well as Tom work with him at the company’s only location in Gratis, Ohio. “It’s a family owned business,” says Doug Crouse.

It’s also a very successful business. When Doug retired from his job as a millwright at a steel mill in 2000, he took to making and selling headers full time. “It just got so big,” he laughs. “It couldn’t be a hobby anymore!”   For the uninitiated, DEC Headers deals mainly with exhaust headers for demolition derby cars. Crouse notes that derby car drivers aren‘t their only customers anymore. “We’ve been doing a lot of mud trucks lately,” says Crouse. Mud truck headers have very nearly replaced demolition derby cars as DEC’s primary sale item. Exhaust headers are needed for a variety of reasons, the chief one being safety. “It gets the heat from the exhaust out from underneath the car,” says Crouse.


“Normally [the drivers] would just cut the muffler off,” continues Crouse. However, that can lead to a build-up of heat underneath the car. “If you get a fuel leak, it can cause a fire,” says Crouse. Fires lead to disqualification under most derby rules.  “A lot less fires,” says Crouse, “It’s just one of those things that derby guys want.”  Crouse also claims that the appeal of headers extends beyond preventing disqualifying and dangerous blazes. “[Drive] can see the pipes coming out of the top,” he says “They can hear their motor,” The aforementioned lack of a muffler on derby vehicles give the cars their distinctive roar, which, coupled with the metallic clashing of chassis and frames, is music to the ears of derby aficionados the world over.

DEC headers has a strict policy against sponsoring any drivers or events. They do, however, give stuff away for free sometimes. “Occasionally we donate a set a headers.” Crouse says his company will give to the ‘most aggressive driver,’ or Mad Dog, in a derby. They also auction off headers for Relay for Life.

While DEC Headers doesn’t directly support drivers, many still use their product. “I don’t know how many national championships had our headers on,” says Doug Crouse. He mentions Scott Zizelman as one of the more famous drivers to sport DEC gear. Crouse also can’t resist throwing some respect the way of his own flesh and blood, Tom Crouse. “My son, he’s won some, too,” Crouse says.

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