History Of The Tractor Pull
History of the Tractor Pull
If you’ve ever visited our farm near the beginning of August, you might have been lucky enough to take part in our Pedal Tractor Pulls, a fun competition of strength and power done Cherry Crest style! But did you know that our pulls are the “junior” version of a wildly popular county fair competition? Traditional tractor pulls are a favorite activity during what we call “fair season,” a month-long celebration where local fairs are happening throughout the county almost every week. Many of these fairs hold tractor pulls and other competitions of strength. Read on for more information about the history of the tractor pull!
How does it work?
During a tractor pull competition, each tractor is hooked up to a weight sled, one tractor at a time. The contestant drives their tractor in a straight line down the track, pulling the sled as fast and as far as they can. The sled is called a “weight transfer sled,” and as it is pulled down the track, the weights are transferred over the axles towards the front of the sled, where there is a metal plate close to the ground. As the weight gets closer to the front of the sled (and over the metal plate), the resistance builds. Therefore, the farther the tractor pulls the sled, the harder it is to pull. If the contestants reach the end of the track (the standard length is 330 feet, roughly the length of a football field), they achieve what is called a “full pull.” Any tractors who complete a full pull will then move on to the next round, when more weight is added to the sled, to see who can pull the added weight the farthest.
Even before the invention of motorized farming equipment, farmers were always boasting about how far and how fast their team of horses could pull the wagon. They even held formal competitions, where each team of horses had to pull a loaded wagon, to see how far they could pull. Sometimes they even used big boards as sleds, and piled on weights in the form of rocks. This morphed into the sport of horse-pulling, which still exists today with draft horses being used for most competitions.
In 1929, the first motorized vehicles were used in pulling competitions held in Vaughansville, Missouri and Bowling Green, Ohio. Bowling Green would go on to become the home of the national pulling competition, where it still held today. Though the sport was recognized, it did not gain popularity until the late 50s. This was due in part because there was no standard or set of rules, so the competition varied from event to event—making it difficult for new entrants to break into the sport.
National Tractor Pullers Association
It wasn’t until 1969 that representatives from around the US gathered to create a rulebook with regulations, forming the National Tractor Pullers Association. Early on, the vehicles used in pulling competitions were standard farm machinery, earning the motto “Pull on Sunday, plow on Monday.” For most of the 70s, the only two classes were “stock” (commercially manufactured tractors) and “modified” (normal tractor chassis with a non-tractor engine mounted on it). However, two brothers named Carl and Paul Bosse introduced a vehicle with multiple engines mounted on the same driveshaft. This lead to more and more modifications being made to the tractors, attempting to wow the crowd with speed and power, until the “tractors” hardly looked like tractors and resembled more of a dragster-type vehicle. The height of this was a seven-engine tractor!
Soon trucks and other four-wheel drive vehicles joined in the fun, and today most “tractor” pull competitions include other vehicle classes as well. The sport spread to other countries as well, like Australia, Brazil, the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany. The sport of “pedal tractor pulling” was introduced as a way of getting the whole family involved, and has become wildly popular at many state and county fairs. Another popular variation of the tractor pull is the remote-control truck and tractor pulling, in which scale models of trucks and tractors are remotely-controlled to pull a scale weight sled as far as possible, on a smaller-scaled dirt track.
Want to see a modified tractor in action? Here’s a video of a tractor pull taking place at Buck Motorsports Park, only a 20-minute drive from Cherry Crest Adventure Farm!
Want to see something more traditional? Here’s a video of a stock tractor pull.
And of course, if you want to check out the remote-control pulls, you can find a video here. It’s a bit long, but fun to watch!