County Fair kicks off evening events with tractor pull ThursdayIn today’s high-test, high-octane world of racing, it’s easy to look past a good old-fashioned tractor pull as a source of great fun and entertainment. Tractor pulls are scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday in the grandstand at the Carlton County Fair.
By: Shelly Lind and Jeff Papas, Pine Journal
In today’s high-test, high-octane world of racing, it’s easy to look past a good old-fashioned tractor pull as a source of great fun and entertainment.
But try to tell that to the sport’s loyal and very large fan base, some of whom will gather on Thursday night at the Carlton County Fair to renew their allegiance to a sport that is about 70 years old.
Tractor pulls began in the early 1940s. At that time, drivers would pull a stone boat or large piece of steel down a track with men stationed at intervals standing by to add their weight until the tractor was forced to stop.
Eventually, safety reasons forced the sport to redefine itself, which led to the invention of the weight transfer sled. In this concept, a moveable weight begins at the back of the sled and transfers forward at a set rate as the tractor pulling it moves forward. As friction increases, the tractor slows and finally stops. The tractor that pulls its sled the farthest wins.
A “full pull” is considered to be 300 feet, though some drivers are able to go well beyond that distance.
Like their cousins in cars, tractor pulling has different classes, including stock and modified categories just like the racers you see on the local dirt tracks.
Tractors vary in weight from 3,000 up to 22,000 pounds and the larger the tractor, the more weight it is assigned to pull.
Professional tractor pulls can add pro stock and super stock classes, with the very largest machines having as many as six supercharged engines.
National pulls can feature four-wheel drive trucks, semis and lawn tractors, to add to the fun.
Like in horse racing, tractor pulls feature weights and handicaps. The tractors and driver are weighed before the competition and weight may have to be removed if rules and specifications are not met. The challenge therefore becomes to make a powerful tractor as light as possible to get into a lighter weight class.
So what do you look for in a tractor pull? Look for a machine that pulls with its front wheels a few inches off the ground. That’s an indicator that the weight is over the rear tires and the tractor is pulling at top efficiency.
And, as in car racing, a tractor’s setup can affect its performance. Tread type, tire pressure, engine RPMs, speed, weight placement and hitch placement can all play a part.
Some drivers will have different tires to use in different conditions and may even change tire pressure to adjust to track conditions. Some competitions also have rules on maximum speed and RPM.
If it’s done properly, a 110-horsepower tractor can be modified to produce up to nine times that much power. However, most local tractor pullers use older machines, either refurbished or driven right out of the barn or the field.
It’s an intergenerational sport. Barnum teen Jaxon Lind won first place at the Carlton County Pedal Tractor Pull when he was 11 years old, qualifying him for the state pull in Hutchinson, Minn. Since 11 is the age limit for the pedal pull, after that he declared, “Next year it’s the real thing.”
Young drivers must take and pass a tractor safety class to take part, and during competition all drivers must both be seated and in control of their machine at all times. Flagmen along the track will end a pull if they determine the front tires to be too far off the ground or if the tractor is veering.
Tractor pulls are scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday in the grandstand at the Carlton County Fair. The pedal tractor pull for children aged 4-11 will be at 2:30 p.m. Friday near the Red Schoolhouse.