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Tractors pull their own weight and then some

September 05, 2009|By MARIE GILBERT

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- The loud speaker blared, the engines roared and the crowd leaned forward.

It was time for the ultimate test between the proverbial immovable object and the irresistible force.

It was time for tractor pulling.

More than 1,200 people jammed onto the grounds of the Washington County Agricultural Education Center Saturday night to watch tractor and truck pullers from the four-state area compete for monetary prizes and trophies.

The event was sponsored by the Western Maryland Pullers Association and featured about 150 modified and hot stock tractors, modified pickup trucks and semis.

"We do four pulls each year and this is the final event for 2009," said Destinee Olden, a member of the Western Maryland Pullers Association.

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Olden said each of this year's pulls had drawn big crowds and all had been enthusiastic.

"People really get into it," she said. "They love the smoke, the ground-pounding action. Plus, the announcers get everyone cheering for their favorite tractor. Everybody has a great time."

The idea behind pulling is simple. A powerful tractor or truck pulls a weighted sled down a dirt track. The weight moves up the sled as the vehicle moves along the track, making it more difficult to pull.

"You can do some real damage to your engine," said Michael Norris of Mount Airy, Md., who was participating in his 13th pull of the year. "So far, I've been lucky."

Michael, 15, said he has been pulling since the fourth grade and was introduced to the competition by his father.

"I like running tractors," he said. "But I like competing also. Most of all, I like winning."

Michael, who owns a D-21 Allis-Chalmers, said he won first place a week ago at a tractor-pulling contest, but wasn't feeling confident about his chances Saturday night.

"There are a lot of pullers here," he said. "I think the competition is going to be tough."

Darren Olden, who is a board member with the Western Maryland Pullers Association, said pulling is a family affair in his house.

"I pull, my kids pull. In fact, five of us in our little group each have our own super-stock tractors," he said. "Once you pull, it's in your blood. It's very addictive."

Todd Evanly of Hagerstown attended Saturday's tractor pull with his wife and two children, as well as his best friend.

"We all love tractor pulls," he said. "My grandfather pulled years ago, so I was brought up around this sort of thing."

Evanly said he especially enjoyed the souped-up tractors.

"I like the smoke, the noise and the clouds of dirt," he said. "This isn't some powder-puff sport."

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