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Crowd pulls for participants in truck and tractor contest

July 05, 2004|by RYAN C. TUCK

ryant@herald-mail.com

LEETOWN, W.Va. - A crowd turned out at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds for the typical Fourth of July activities Sunday afternoon: hot food, cold drinks and plans for fireworks, but the more than 50 professional truck and tractor pullers made this celebration a little different.

Sunday was the second event of the 2004 season for the Interstate Truck and Tractor Pullers. The season began with the May 15 competition, but the June 5 competition was postponed until Sunday due to rain.

"There's nothing better than this," said spectator and former tractor puller Joseph Morris, 41, of Woodville, Miss. "I can't get enough of it."

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The Mountain State Truck and Tractor Puller Club hosted the event at the Fairgrounds off Old Leetown Pike. By the time of the first race, more than 100 people filled the stands.

Tuck Creamer, 41, of Ranson, W.Va., explained that a truck and tractor pull race is characterized by two vehicles, each trying to pull the most weight to the end of the track in the fastest time.

There were seven classes Sunday: the 5,800-pound stock base 4-by-4 truck; the 6,000-pound, modified, classic tractor; the 62,000-pound, 4-by-4 street truck; the 6,500-pound, pro street truck; the 6,800-pound, modified truck; the 8,000-pound, diesel truck; and the 13,500-pound farm tractor.

Creamer races a modified, classic tractor, in the same division as his two brothers, who have been with the club since it began in 1993. He said a modified, classic tractor is a regular tractor with a built-on engine cover over a much larger engine.

"They're pretty neat looking," he said.

Each individual owner may decide to add more features, such as rear suspension, a built-up base or new axle rods, he said.

His brother, Bill Creamer, said "souping up" an old tractor for their division can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $50,000. Horsepower ranges from 600 to 1,000.

"Tractor pulling is all about speed," he said.

Troy Nails, 36, of Martinsburg, W.Va., came Sunday with his 3-year-old classic, modified tractor that runs on a 600-horsepower Big Block Chevrolet engine.

Vehicles such as Nails' that are not "street legal" have to have wider engine blocks installed to accommodate their engines, Creamer said.

Sunday's pull drew spectators from a wide area. Craig and Dianna Gilbert came from Carlisle, Pa., and said there is no better way to spend July Fourth than at a truck and tractor pull.

"We love 'em," Craig Gilbert said. "The motors, the mud flying, we're just into it."

Robert Bane, 11, of Middleway, W.Va., was on hand to watch his uncle race Sunday and said he wants to be a tractor puller when he's old enough.

"I think it's cool," he said.

Mountain State's next truck and tractor pull is scheduled for July 17 at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds.

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