Tractor pull gets drivers' motors running
The event will be broadcast on the national cable network SPEED TV.
By IAN HILL
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
CANFIELD -- You could hear the horsepower from outside the Canfield Fair grandstand Saturday night. Inside the grandstand, trucks and tractors were pulling 40,000-pound sleds down a muddy track.
Each tractor engine sounded like 1,000 chain saws churning at once.
"It's a lot of horsepower between your legs," said Bryan Snyder, 33, of New Springfield.
Snyder drove one of about 90 trucks and tractors that competed in the American Tractor Pullers Association Grand American truck and tractor pull in the grandstand. He said the horsepower is one of the main reasons he competes in tractor pull events.
"The smoke and the horsepower," he said. "The thrill of the horsepower, the thrill of it is unreal."
Many of the trucks and tractors entered in the event seemed unremarkable. The semis looked like those that drive on the highway, and the tractors appeared no different from those in cornfields.
Except for the roll cages.
Each tractor and truck pulled a 40,000-pound sled called the "decision maker" down one of two 300-foot-long dirt tracks in the grandstand. The truck and tractors that traveled the farthest were the winners.
Tractor drivers began each heat by revving their engines, sending thick white smoke pouring out of their exhaust pipes.
The smoke would slowly turn pitch black as the pressure in the tractor's engine increased.
When the pressure reached a certain point, the driver would put his tractor in gear. The tractor typically then reared up on its huge back wheels, spewing mud high into the air. Tractors traveled most of the distance down the track on their back wheels.
The heats ended when the tractor came to a complete stop. The distance each tractor traveled was measured by a laser near the horse barns.
Most tractors and trucks traveled between 275 and 300 feet.
Snyder said he became hooked on tractor and truck pulling after watching the 1999 pull at the fairgrounds. He now competes in 20 to 30 events each year.
Each tractor costs about $80,000. Snyder, who works as a farmer, said he spends much of his summer working to ensure that his fuel and water settings are correct.
"There's a lot of math and a lot of science," he said. "It keeps your summers busy."
A total of $26,700 in prize money was given away to winners in seven classes Saturday night. The fair board raised the money through entrance and attendance fees.
In it for the fun
Louis Halasz, however, stressed that the money wasn't the reason most drivers entered the event. Halasz's son, Terry, drove "Truckasaurus" on Saturday night.
"It gets in your blood," said Halasz, 74.
The grandstand was packed for the event, which is set to be televised on the national cable network SPEED TV at a later date.
Fair Board Member Lee Kohler stressed, however, that the television coverage didn't change how the event was organized. He called the event "the largest attended one-night tractor and truck pull east of the Mississippi."
Kohler is the head of the fair's truck and tractor pull committee.
"If TV's here or not, we're still going to put on the best show going," Kohler said.