Explain to me the allure of tractor pulls

I’ve never been to one, but I saw one on TV recently. Some impressively looking, tricked-out machines. Once they get going, why would they stop? Are there fuel constraints? What are the rules?

I would have a hard time explaining the allure, since it was lost to me around age 12. I loved them in my youth though. I think it was the sound. Those things are loud enough to damage your hearing. As far the appeal to others, I’m sure the horsepower has something to do with it. They usually sell beer at the pulls too, which always helps.

A quick yahoo search pulled up this site: http://www.ntpapull.com/

Briefly on the rules, they are trying to pull a sled for a certain distance (I forget how far). The sled has a skid on the front and wheels on the back. It has a weight transfer box on top. This box has a lot of heavy weight in it. When the pull begins, the weight transfer box is over the wheels making it easy to pull. As the sled goes down the track, the transfer box moves forward on the sled, putting more weight on the skid which causes more drag. Eventually the drag is enough to stop the tractor.

You can see one of the sleds here: http://www.enterpriseengine.com/Pulls/Dave_02.jpg

The allure is no different than street racing, in which crowds gather to see tricked-out over-decorated muscle cars.

I remember going to some as a teen. More of a social event than any real rooting for tractors and/or drivers. And lots of beer. Yes, even for teens. Of course, that was a long time ago.

Definitely a social event for rednecks (I can use that term, I grew up in Rural Iowa and still have my heart there sometimes). Most farmers that I’ve known are VERY loyal to their chosen brand of tractor, so guys who farm with John Deere equipment will never be caught cheering for an Case or International.

I believe the track is generally 300 feet long. THe longest pull wins. A judge generally stands ahead and to the side of the pulling tractor with a red flag. When the tractor wheels start losing most of their traction, he waives the red flag and the driver is required to cut the throttle (generally, this is to save wear and tear on the track itself). A ‘full pull’ is the term for an attempt in which the tractor manages to move the sled a full length of the track. If more then 1 driver has a full pull, they go to a pull off round, after adding some additional weight to the sled and (IIRC) increasing the speed that the weight moves from the back to the front of the sled.

At the county fair of my youth, they had three different classes. The first was the modifieds, which are the tricked-out machines you’ve seen on TV. The second class was the antiques, basically stock farm tractors from 1960 or earlier. The third class was the farm class, basically regular stock farm tractors of today.

Nah, you want real sport go see an oxen pull.

Or canine weight pulling.

What can you say? Its fun to see heavy stuff pulled, whether it’s horse, oxen, dogs, people, or trucks.

Tractor pulls are quite similar to hypnotizing a chicken, insofar as both involve the process of utterly fascinating a subject that is not worth the time, effort & expense involved.

Make of that what you will.

Similar to the local mud runs held here regularly. Lots of beer, loud music and before it’s over there’s bound to be some naked women involved. Definitely a few bare breasts. Not to mention the winner usually wins a ton of cash.

Basically it’s just a party. A real loud party. I don’t know much about the televised in stadium pulls. They seem a bit orchestrated and over the top IMHO. Go to a local pull or run sometime. Bring your cooler and find a shade tree. Also a BBQ pit with plenty of ribs smoking and Lynyrd Skynyrd playing in the background.

After the run and everyone winds up in the lake half naked washing off the mud there’ll be a big bonfire and a live band. Think about it…and tell me that doesn’t sound like a good time. :wink:

I realize the fora definitions are what they are, but I’m having a hard time reconciling “Cafe Society” and “Tractor Pulls.”

SUNDAY, SUNDAY, SUNDAY at La Mediterenienne, full-bore NITRO-POWERED Cappucino machines! BE THERE!!!

Years ago, when dinosaurs ruled the earth, I took a bunch of Nigerian and Ugandan officers to experience America. The Army got us tickets to the tractor pull. They loved it.

Lots of beer, lots of noise, lots of cheering.

They also enjoyed seeing professional wrestling at the Columbus Georgia Civic Auditorium.

Good times.

DJAMBE: M’butu, that was some good time we were subjected to in the Land of Freedom, yes? What a pastime for a nice Sundaysundaysunday afternoon.

MBUTU: Oh, Djambe, I concur with gusto. I feel reckless and wasteful, however. That friendly officer of their War Department paid for my whole seat, but I only used the edge.

As a city boy moving to the country I attended my first tractor pull with a kind of anthropological detachment. As an open human being I must be able to accept new cultures and their strange customs on their own terms.

My neighbor built pulling trucks and entered every year.

Like many things that seem quaint or simple or stupid to an outsider, a tractor pull is an amazingly complex and difficult sport. Like the ballet of the opera, or a fine cognac, one must learn to appreciate it.

The first thing that one must know is that there are various classes. Pickup truck, small, large, open supercharged or nonsupercharged, etc etc.

As has been noted before, the weight slides forward putting more weight on the skid as the sledge is pulled, making it more difficult the farther you go.

To successfully get a “full pull” pulling the weight the full length of the traffic one must engineer one’s machine with a strategy, weighing power vs. speed vs. traction. From an engineering standpoint, one is doing truly staggering things with torque simply to prevent one’s vehicle from flying apart under the strain.

Driving one of these machines also takes an incredible amount of skill to keep it straight, prevent it from bucking, and create a smooth buildup and speed. There’s a balancing act with the gear ratios. You want your range to be low enough to pull it that little extra bit at the end when it’s bogging down, but high enough to pick up speed at the start and get inertia. There are a thousand little tradeoffs that must be measured, planned for, accounted for and implemented.

Sometimes they go to extremes. I’ve seen a welded frame that was little more than wheels, a drivetrain and 4 v8s welded together. Or, I’ve seen the highest tech turbines integrated into a 50 year old diesel tractor so that it seems as high tech and computerized as the space shuttle.

But, the great fun is always the failures. I’ve never seen anybody get hurt, but watching someone miscalculate and seeing a multi-hundred thousand dollar machine fail in both spectacular and catastrophic fashion is a sight worth seeing.

These machines have personalities, too. The personalities of the people that built them. When one of these things spools up to power and roars and jumps forward with everything that it has… It’s a fine fine moment. It is an adolescent boy’s dream come to fruition through the mind and abilities of a 40 year old dedicated (and slightly depraved) engineer. That 40 year old man is that 12 year old boy again. So are all we who watch.

It is also fine moment in it’s transcendence. You feel the power in your bones! You know in that moment that it’s a fine thing to be a human being. Look what we can do! Look what we can make! I mean it without sarcasm, it’s a fine thing.

This is power!

I have sat behind the wheel of my friend’s pulling truck and revved the engine. It was awe-inspiring. It nearly brought tears to my eyes and goosebumps to my neck.

These things literally have so much power they can tear themselves apart.

Yeah, there’s the beer and the chewing tobacco, and the lowbrow nature of the thing… but to appreciate it for what it is and what it means is to appreciate the spirit that builds rockets to go to the moon

Scylla nicely said. :slight_smile: You are absolutley correct in terms of an engineering standpoint. Some of these machines are definitely beyond Bubba’s mechanics and driving skills.
A buddy of mine used to have a monster truck. It was amazing to me that all four wheels had to turn just to steer it. :eek:

Scylla – that was a great post.

As a NASCAR fan, I love the intellectual aspects of the sport (the enginering, the strategy, the tactics) but if you want you can cut that part out and just enjoy the sound and feel of big V8 engines going real fast real close.


It’s a tractor … and it’s pulling stuff! What’s not to love?

tracerlook into my eyes…you are feeling sleepy…very, very sleepy