JESSICA HORTON Staff Writer
With a roar of the engines, in a cloud of dirt and smoke, tractors take off from the start line like drag racers.
They pull massive sleds that are heavy enough to bring the tractors’ front tires off the ground as they race down the 350-foot track.
Three years ago, truck and tractor pulls for anything but antique tractors were all but unheard of in this area.
“There were a couple of groups who were doing pulls around here,” said David Templeton, president of the Texas Truck and Tractor Pullers Association (TTTPA), “but they weren’t very often and cost so much. We really wanted to give guys around here another option.”
In the beginning, Sandy Land Tractor Pullers Association from West Texas and Outlaw Truck and Tractor Pullers Association from Missouri were the only two associations close to Erath County. The Outlaw Association would come around three times a year to put on shows in the area, and the Sandy Land Association allowed pullers from Erath County to go with them to shows and pulls, but Erath County remained without an association of its own.
“We wanted to have more affordable classes,” Templeton said, “and we wanted to have more throughout the year, too.”
With that in mind, a group of four men with three tractors and a pro stock truck formed the TTTPA in about the third week of January and the phenomenon began.
From those three tractors owned by Roger Armstrong, Jason Glueck, and Clint Sparks; and the truck owned by Brady Riley, TTTPA has grown into a chartered, non-profit organization that consists of eight to 10 limited modified tractors, 12 to 14 economy class tractors, and six to eight pickups with 22 chartered members.
The trucks and tractors pull a sled, which gradually gets heavier as the vehicles travel down the track. The TTTPA’s sled operator is George Anderson. “You want to make sure you have a good sled operator,” said Pete Riola, TTTPA member, “if it’s too heavy, you can’t get very far down the track, and if it’s too light the trucks and tractors just speed down the track. With a good operator, the association puts on a better show. George is great.”
There are several differences in the classes of tractors. The limited modified tractors have a small block engine and a regular tractor transmission. They also are limited in tire size to a maximum of 18 feet 4 inches. The limited modified tractors look more like their drag racing car counterparts with the covers taken off the front end of the tractors so the engines are more visible giving them the sleek appearance. The economy class tractors have a bigger engine than the limited modified tractors, and they can have an automatic transmission. The tires can be larger than the limited modified tractors with a maximum of 24 feet. The economy class tractors look more like the tractors used for every day farm work. Another class that has the work tractor look to them is the hot farm diesel class. These tractors are like the economy class but they are diesel fueled instead of gasoline.
There are pickup trucks that pull as well. These trucks are divided into three classes, which are Pro Stock Pickups, Diesel Pickups, and Gas Pickups.
On Sept. 1, the TTTPA is bringing the excitement to Erath County with an official pull at the Erath County Livestock Association Arena. From 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., the TTTPA is sponsoring a pit party where the community can come out and meet the drivers. The U.S. Army Reserve will be at the pull with a rock-climbing wall, and there will be a concession stand for refreshments. Admission to the pit party and the pull is $5 per person, and the pull will kick off at 7:30 p.m. with the singing of the National Anthem.
For those interested in entering a truck or tractor, entry fee is $30 per hook, which includes three pit passes. Pay out classes are Limited Modified 5200, Econo Rod 6200, Open 5700, Open 6800, Hot Farm Diesel, Pro Stock Pickup, Diesel Pickup, and Gas Pickup. For more information, contact Jason Glueck at (254) 485-4282 or Pete Riola at (254) 968-2587.
“I haven’t seen this much interest in a long time,” said Templeton, “We’re hoping to get even more of the community out and excited about this.”