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Tractors, trucks tear up track

July 11, 2010|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD
  • Fans plug their ears Saturday evening as Jason McKenzie urges his multi-engine modified tractor down the track at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center.
By Kevin G. Gilbert, Staff Photographer

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Dirt sprayed and engines roared to deafening levels Saturday night at a truck and tractor pull at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center.

Tom Konopatski of Springville, Pa., said he drove more than four hours for his 15 seconds of competition in the 6,200-pound, four-wheel drive truck class.

"My dad used to take me to the pulls to watch," said Konopatski, who was the last of more than 50 pullers to compete.

The five-class competition was hosted by Lucas Oil and East Coast Pullers LCC and presented by the Washington County Tractor Pullers Association.

Konopatski admitted his hobby was expensive, but still worth it for the fun and camaraderie among those in the sport.

"We travel Interstate 81 a lot," said Konopatski, who works for a cable television company when he's not pulling.

Nancy Weller, who competed in the 7,500-pound modified tractor class, said her winning 350-foot pull probably cost her a couple hundred dollars in fuel and oil supplying the twin Allison aircraft engines that fired her victory.

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When Weller is not pulling several thousand pounds behind her tractor, she works as a public defender for the City of Baltimore. Her interest in the sport also was spurred by her father, she said.

Pam Major of Hagerstown said she came out to Saturday's event to support her brother, Kris Hoyt, who was competing in the Pro Stock 9,500-pound, Super Stock tractors.

Major said she has plans to jump out of an airplane when she turns 60, but would never follow in her younger brother's footsteps.

"I wouldn't get on one of those things ... he gets on this and thinks nothing of it," she said.

Her brother, whose tractor is named "Nutcase," has continued to compete even after a 2009 accident that left his legs crushed and resulted in one of them being amputated below the knee, she said.

The tractor's name is fitting for her family, she said.

"The whole family is like 'don't tell us we can't do something because we're going to do it,'" Major said.

Jerry Poffenberger of the Washington County Tractor Pullers Association said much has changed since the late 1970s, when races only featured single engines.

At Saturday's event, there were classes for super modified tractors, pro stock diesel four-wheel drive trucks, super stock/pro stock tractors, modified four-wheel drive trucks and super modified two-wheel drive trucks.

The event featured trucks and tractors that are on par with national-level events and attracted pullers from as far away as Connecticut, according to organizers.

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