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Family pulls together for tractor contests

August 11, 1997

By SAMANTHA KRULEWITZ

Staff Writer

Karen Beckley's done her share of driving a tractor in the fields, but last week she beat out nine men for first place in a tractor-pulling contest at Washington County Ag Expo.

"It feels pretty good to beat them," said Beckley, who drove her John Deere 4440 to victory in the 18,500-pound class.

"I know someone who got harassed by his wife when they got home. She said, `How could you let a woman beat you?'" said Beckley.

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Beckley, who's family farm is on Hopewell Road, started participating in tractor-pulling contests last year. She drives competitively only once a year, at Ag Expo.

In her first time out last year she placed second.

Beckley, 34, said she and her daughter Kelly, 16, were the only two women in the Ag Expo tractor pull held last Wednesday at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center near Sharpsburg.

Dave Moore, a professional puller and a member of the Ag Expo board of directors, said there are very few women tractor pullers, either locally or professionally.

"I think the guys think it's great that she's doing what she's doing. I do," said Moore, of Boonsboro.

He said Karen Beckley works hard in the field and deserves to enjoy the contests.

"I think more families should be involved. It's a family sport," Moore said.

Beckley's other daughters Jamie and Stacy, are split on competing. Jamie, 9, competes in the pedal pull, which involves miniature tractors that are pedaled like a bicycle. Stacy, 13, said she never wants to pull.

"She can't pull anyway. She's our camera person," Karen Beckley said.

In a tractor-pulling event, a tractor is hooked up to a weight-transfer device called a sled. The weight box starts out in the back of the sled and moves forward as the tractor moves. Its increasing weight on a pan touching the ground below makes it harder to pull. The winner is the driver whose tractor pulls the sled the farthest.

Steve Beckley, her husband, said everybody was pleased about Karen and Kelly competing.

"Most of our friends were really proud when Karen won," he said.

Kelly competed in the 4-H section of the tractor pull after having only one 30-minute lesson from her father on their farm. She took fifth place on a Ford 7740 in the 11,500-pound 4-H class.

Steve Beckley, 37, competes on the same tractor as Karen. He said he started pulling at the Ag Expo three years ago. This year he placed third in the 15,500-pound class and fourth in the 13,000-pound class.

"My friends talked me into it, now I'm going to compete in about 16 events this year," he said.

Steve Beckley said that the family tries to go with him when he competes.

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