SIDNEY — It was roaring engines and dirt flying in the air while tractors and trucks attempted a “full pull” at the 2018 Shelby County Fair’s Truck & Tractor Pull last Thursday evening.
Spectators crowded bleachers on the grandstand and pit side of the track to watch over 100 competitors operating antique and hot rod tractors and trucks. The drivers’ ages varied from teenagers to those in their 80s.
Drivers within various classes, based on weight and hitch height, competed to see who can reach 300 feet. However, due to impending rain, Jake Yinger, chairman of the Tractor Pull committee, said they were competing Thursday using a “floating finish.” This means whomever makes it the farthest distance wins.
The Shelby County Fair, Yinger said, is one of the only county fairs around to run two tracks.
“We run some of the hottest antique tractors around on the pit side, and then we will run big diesels and all of the 4-wheel trucks on the grandstand side, and they will alternate,” he said. “Whoever goes the farthest distance wins. So, if you didn’t make it, you didn’t bring enough power to the party.”
The motors’ blaring sounds began once Brandon Marchal, of Wapakoneta, waved the starting line flag.
Marchal, president of the Grand Lake Tractor Pullers Association, said he has been “pulling” for over 20 years and been involved as an officiant for the past 15 years.
“Being out on the track in what I call the controlled chaos, is a really good adrenaline rush,” Marchal said with a laugh, while keeping his fingers crossed the rain would hold off. “The interaction with the competitors here is like a whole second family.”
On the grandstand side of the track, Barney Taylor, of Fletcher and member of the Central Ohio Tractor Pullers Association (COTPA), operated a 656 International Hot Rod Harvester, featuring a V-8 powered 750 horsepower small block Chevrolet motor. He came in second in his hot rod class on Thursday and said he was leading the points in the class so far this season.
“Our class is real competitive. It’s a super group of guys. We all try to beat each other, but when we are done, we are done. We are all friends at the end. We don’t get real heated up like a lot of them do,” Taylor said, who has been pulling for the past 25 years.
“The tractors cost around $50,000 to build. Now, the beginners don’t spend that kind of money, but if you want to run on top …” Taylor said, who won at the Springfield Tractor Pull the previous Saturday.
Taylor said drivers came from all over the state deriving from Shelby County to Cincinnati to compete. He admitted that he and his wife Priscilla, and their dog, travel at least 20 times a year to compete. By the end of the week he said he competed at four different locations.
On the pit side, Tom Baker, driver of one of the antique tractors, and his young helper Tyler Anderson, 14, son of Monica Anderson, both of Greenville, were enjoying the evening. Baker said he has participated in seven or eight pulls so far this season. He admitted he is continuing with the hobby after over 20 years because of Tyler’s interest.
When asked what he thought of the event, Tyler said he was “just helping my Grandpa,” with a big smile.
“It’s a lot of work and money, but a lot of fun,” Baker said, who operated a 1956 400 Case pulling 5,250 pounds in the competition. “I didn’t do crap (during his pull), but you just never know.”
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.