The pull drags them back

Thrill brings tractor drivers onto the track

Thrill brings tractor drivers onto the track

July 10, 2005|by RICHARD F. BELISLE



Dana Lindsey learned to drive the big rigs by jockeying them around her husband Tom's diesel repair shop in Duncansville, Pa.

She remembers the day she drove one in a truck-pulling contest.

"One trip down the track and I was hooked," the 38-year-old mother of two said.

She drove her 1982 Peterbilt semi along with the men Saturday in the Washington County Truck and Tractor Pull at Mason-Dixon Dragway sponsored by the Washington County Tractor Pulling Association.

Drivers drove in five categories, from hot stock farm tractors to 4x4 pickup trucks to modified turbos and super opens to the huge semis.


A crowd estimated by organizers at more than 3,000 watched the high-tech rigs roar into ear-splitting screams as they tried to pull the weighted sled the fastest and farthest down the smoothed-out dirt track.

Traffic was backed up for several miles along U.S. 40 as vehicles lined up to enter the dragway grounds.

They came to hear engines scream in protest against the heavy sled and to see the big diesels spew gigantic plumes of black smoke.

"It's a family sport, good clean fun," said Brandon Shank, association spokesman.

Aubrey, his 7-month-old daughter, was asleep on the floor in her car seat in the announcer's trailer next to her father. A set of heavy shooter hearing protectors wrapped around her tiny head blocked out the noise of the track.

Prize money runs from $50 for the low-end competitors to $1,000 for the semis, little enough in light of the cost of building a competitive vehicle. The simplest run around $20,000, and it's easy to fork over more than $100,000 to set up a semi, owners said.

Dennis Grove, 42, of Harpers Ferry, W.Va., brought his 1971 Chevrolet to drive in the 4x4 pull.

It was the same truck he bought from a used car dealer in Ranson., W.Va., when he was a senior at Jefferson High School.

"I paid $1,000 for it," he said. "It was just an old farm truck, but it's come a long way since then." A 900-horsepower V-8 powers the truck today.

The dress of the day was cutoffs, shorts, bare chests and midriffs, baseball-style caps, muscle shirts, jeans and T-shirts of every description and motto.

Bob Scotten stood out in a blue plaid sport shirt and tan trousers.

Scotten, 68, seemed confused by the goings-on around him. He was at his first tractor pull.

"It's loud. I don't really understand it," he said. "I guess they pull the heavy weight as far as they can."

He came to the dragway with his wife. She was one of a dozen members of Mt. Lena United Methodist Church running a food concession. Every year, church members sell about 600 pounds of hamburgers, 400 pounds of hot dogs, as many pounds of french fries and 50 pounds of country ham sandwiches, member Phyllis Trumpower said.

It's the church's main fundraiser for the year, members said.

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