Pedal tractor pulling fun for generations of New Castle family

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pedal tractor pull
Brady Moffatt placed seventh at a national pedal tractor pulling competition several years ago. He and his family travel around the area to participate in pedal tractor pulling contests at county fairs through the summer.

NEW CASTLE, Pa. –— In the Nimmo family, pedal tractor pulling is more than a fun summer pastime that takes them on a tour of fairs around the region. It’s become a family tradition binding generations together.

“I was pedal pulling when I was 3,” said daughter Jami Moffatt. “I have two older brothers who were pulling before I was.”

Moffatt is now grown and her two children pull, with her son, Brady, even taking seventh place at the national competition hosted at the Power Show Ohio, in Columbus, a few years ago.

“My son thinks we need to go to every pedal pull regardless of what state it’s in,” Moffatt said.

Growing up pulling

The family always had pedal tractors around the farm in Lawrence County growing up, as many farm kids do, Moffatt said. 

They got into competitive pedal pulling after her father, Bob Nimmo, befriended Wayne Cooper, of Fombell, Pennsylvania, who started the pedal pull at the Portersville Steam Show in Butler County in the 1980s.

After that, Jami, and her brothers, Lance and Bobby, began making the rounds to pulls around the region. Cooper and Nimmo eventually started a pedal pull at the Lawrence County Fair, which Moffatt still helps organize.

“We went to every pull in western (Pennsylvania) and eastern Ohio,” Nimmo said. “My kids competed in every one of them. It was a lot of fun.”

To help his kids prepare for the pulls, Nimmo built a simple sled at home with a cement block for weight and had the kids pull it around the garage. “That really toughened their legs up,” he said.

“My brothers would make circles around the garage to train,” Moffatt said. “They pretty much won every time.”

Key to success. Not only did it help them excel at pedal pulls, but Nimmo partially credits this early strength-training regimen with his son, Lance’s, later success on the football field.

Lance Nimmo played offensive tackle for West Virginia University and went on to play a few years in the NFL.

“Well, that helped. It really did,” Bob Nimmo said.

Bob’s six grandchildren are now getting into pedal pulling, at least the ones that are big enough to reach the pedals. “Some are too little yet,” he said.

The grandparents travel around to watch the youngsters compete. In addition to Jami’s children, Lance Nimmo’s children also pull, Bob Nimmo said.

“We’ve had a lot of fun over the years,” he said. “We still have a lot of fun.”

In it to win it

Having watched pedal pulls for more than 30 years, Bob Nimmo learned some tips to help the next generation succeed.

“I tell them not to look back. Go as fast as you can. When it starts getting hard, just start pedaling hard,” he said. “Just like the big ones, the faster you get going, the farther you’ll go.”

Pedal tractor pulls are typically open to children ages 3 to 8, although some are open to older children and adults. Children compete against other boys and girls their age.

The weight on the sleds or the gearing of the tractors varies slightly at each pull, depending on the equipment being used, Moffatt said.

“My son doesn’t like the ones that are geared down,” she said. “He gets frustrated on those.”

Brady, who is 8, is in his last year of pedal pulls, which his mom said is a good thing “because we’re running out of trophy space.” His younger sister, 6-year-old Emily, still has a couple years to go.

Moffatt said they still make the rounds to all the local fairs for the pedal pulls, just like they did when she was a kid. The draw of the event remains the same.

“There’s that friendly competition with the other farm kids,” Moffatt said. “And to see how well you can do yourself.”

(Reporter Rachel Wagoner can be contacted at 800-837-3419 or rachel@farmanddairy.com.)

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Rachel is a reporter with Farm and Dairy and a graduate of Clarion University of Pennsylvania. She married a fourth-generation beef and sheep farmer and settled down in her hometown in Beaver County. Before coming to Farm and Dairy, she worked at several daily and weekly newspapers throughout Western Pennsylvania covering everything from education and community news to police and courts.

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