A Uvalde ares businessman says he is having astounding success with one of the most audacious new business ideas ever.
Todd Dijideo operates Drive Tanks, an experience on the famed Ox Ranch near Uvalde where visitors can drive and even fire the heavy guns of a number of actual battle tanks he has assembled on the ranch.
"The historical aspects of it really transcends all genders and geopolitical lines," he told 1200 WOAI's Megan Bishop. "People love the history, and love to get out and see what we have. This has really opened the doors to people's perceptions."
Dijideo says Drive Tanks is the 'first and only company in the world to allow civilians to drive and shoot World War II tanks.'
He says he has eight tanks on site right now, and is planning to acquire more. The tanks in his arsenal include the classic American Sherman Tank, and the formidable Soviet T-34 that won the pivotal Battle of Kirsk, one of the key turning points in the war.
He also brags of having a Chieftan, which was the main battle tank used by the British Army during and after World War II, as well as a post war West German VK-1602 Leopard Tank, which saw action in Kosovo and later in Afghanistan.
He also has some impressive heavy guns for visitors to fire, including a Howitzer, a flame thrower, an 81 millimeter mortar, and an M-2 machine gun.
He says Drive Tanks attracts all types of customers.
"Some days, the women seem to be more interested than the men," he said. "We had a couple of ladies who were celebrating their 75th birthday out there, and they were just having a blast."
The huge expanse of the 18,000 Ox Ranch, which is legendary west Texas hunting and exotic game ranch, makes the experience possible and safe, he said.
He says kids who are too young to drive on the highway have driven one of his tanks.
"As long as they feel comfortable with it and we feel comfortable with it," he said. "We don't really have an age limit right now. The youngest is 12 right now, and that's what makes it neat...the kids can come out and drive a tank before they can even drive a car."
Dijideo says he is in the process of constructing a World War II themed barracks on the Ox Ranch, to add to the experience.
PHOTO COURTESY: DRIVE TANKS.COM