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Pullers prepare to be terminated

August 26, 2006|by KATE S. ALEXANDER/Staff Correspondent

WILLIAMSON, Pa. - Taunting competitors at the Franklin County Fair's Truck and Tractor Pull on Friday, the sled named Terminator displayed a final message to pullers in harsh, black letters, "Be prepared to be terminated."

One by one, pullers from Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and West Virginia hitched their tractor or truck to the Terminator, and with a stream of black smoke, attempt to pull the weighted sled 265 feet.

But the further the tractor pulls, the heavier the sled becomes, Max Varner a puller from Stoughstown, Pa. said. Allowed only one attempt, each competitor must outwit the Terminator and inch their tires as close as possible to the white line.

According to pullers, the sport involves a significant degree of strategy.

"You've got to read the track and pay attention to the pullers who were ahead of you," said Jaime Griffith of Luray, Va., winner of the 11,000 pro farm class. "But you only got seconds to do it."

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"It's like very slow drag racing," Varner said.

Dagan Stephens of Fort Valley, Va., likens pulling to bull riding.

"It's your eight seconds," he said.

Pulling may be the sport of the "common man," as Griffith puts it, but it demands a significant investment. Varner estimates the smaller class tractors cost as little as $3,000 while the larger class tractors he estimates cost as much as $80,000.

"It's definitely a hobby," Varner said. "You don't make money doing this."

A passing puller affirmed Varner, commenting that his tractor "eats up all my money."

"You never quit putting money into your tractor," Griffith said.

For John Sutton Jr., Leroy Durf and Lyle Baum, members of the Interstate Truck and Tractor Pullers Association, the cost of pulling is offset by the fun involved.

"I could waste this money elsewhere, but this is more fun," Sutton said. "It is worth the money you spend."

"The adrenaline rush when that green flag falls is why I do this," Baum said. "The prize is just gas money home."

Varner said that a small prize was offered at the Franklin County Fair Truck and Tractor Pull for the winners in each class.

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