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Ag center crowd watches thrill of pull

May 08, 2010|By ANDREW SCHOTZ
  • Derek Artz of Hagerstown pulls a sled Saturday with his International Harvester in the 13,500-pound "hot farm" division at the Western Maryland Tractor Pullers tractor pull.
Ric Dugan, Staff Photographer

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Short bursts of explosive revving punctuated the air at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center as tractor drivers hauled with all of their might.

Western Maryland Tractor Pullers organized the event, which drew hundreds of spectators to the center on Sharpsburg Pike south of Hagerstown.

Drivers pushed their John Deeres, Internationals and New Hollands to the max, pulling a weighted sled as far as they could.

They gave their tractors nicknames such as "Bleed'in Blue," "Ruff n Ready" and "Stress Test."

Donnie Gochenour, a fence contractor and auctioneer from Luray, Va., was there with his Ford 9000.

Gochenour said he won the 13,500-pound "hot farm" division for modified farm tractors. His winning pull was about 330 feet.

He estimated his tractor's horsepower at 750 to 800.

Gochenour said he likes traveling the regional tractor pull circuit, so Washington County wasn't too far to go to compete.

Kevin Stouffer of Waynesboro, Pa., has pulled for 30 years and has worked for himself building engines for 11 years.

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He said he's won the points competition a few times, but Saturday wasn't his day. A supercharger drive belt broke on his homemade modified tractor, which has a Chevrolet big block engine with about 2,000 horsepower. It competed in the 8,000-pound class.

There's a comfortable mix of fun, friendship and competition in the pulling world, Stouffer said.

"We're friends off the track -- we share parts, whatever, but on the track, we're fierce," he said.

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