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Tractor pull thrills crowd

August 05, 1999

Tractor PullBy GREG SIMMONS / Staff Writer

photo: MARLA BROSE / staff photographer




Mark Rohrer's John Deere 4955 rumbled at the starting line. Black smoke spewed from its smoke stack, and the engine roared. The whine of the turbo was ear-piercing.

Then the green tractor bolted down the dirt track, dragging a 30,000-pound sled for 250 feet, the smell of burnt diesel fuel hanging in the air.

The Washington County Tractor Pullers Club sponsored a tractor pull Wednesday night at the Washington County Ag Expo. More than 1,000 spectators gathered to watch club members show off their mechanical tractor prowess.

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"The more money you have, the more power you have," said Rohrer, 31, of Rohrersville.

He said to get involved in tractor pulling, enthusiasts need only a frame, a transmission and a rear-end housing, and can work their way up from there.

But to have a winning tractor, one could easily spend $30,000, said Jay Forrester, who entered three tractors at the pull.

Forrester, 57, said he has been involved in tractors pulls since 1974, but has been around tractors since 1948, when his father began selling them. Now Forrester, of Chambersburg, Pa., sells Ford tractors and builds them for pulling competitions.

He said he got his three sons involved into tractor pulling.

"We took our frustrations out on the track," Forrester said.

The Moore family also is involved in tractor pulling. Todd Moore, Mark Rohrer's brother-in-law, brought a John Deere 4255 to the pull.

Moore's nephew, David "Davey" Moore Jr., and his father, David Sr., have another pulling tractor.

Todd said the biggest safety concern on the tractor is fire. He said a fire could melt the engine, or tear the bearings out of the engine. He said he doesn't wear a seat belt for that reason, but he does wear a helmet, as all the other drivers do.

Davey Moore, 17, said he's been involved with pulling tractors since he was 10. "That first time down the track gets you hooked," he said. It's not the speed, he said: "It's just the power."

The strength of the tractors with which Davey Moore was helping his uncles was rated at about 800 horsepower. An average tractor before it is modified is rated at between 150 to 175 horsepower. An average four-door car has about 135 horsepower. A small lawn mower has 5 horsepower.

The tractors need power because each is pulling a 30,000-pound sled. When the tractors first hitch to the sled, a sliding weight on the sled sits near the back, tilting the weight onto its wheels.

As the tractor moves forward with the sled, the weight creeps forward, digging the wheelless front end of the sled into the ground.

"It'll stop you no matter what, no matter how much power you've got," Davey Moore said.

Another tractor pull will be held tonight at the Ag Expo at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center on Sharpsburg Pike, 10 miles south of Hagerstown.

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