Tractor pullers go the distance in Louisville


LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Many visitors to the National Farm Machinery Show travel to Louisville each February to see the power. The raw power of tractor pulling, that is.

The National Farm Machinery Show, held at the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center, is home to the Championship Tractor Pull, the oldest indoor tractor pull in the country.

This year’s 35th anniversary pull ran Feb. 12-15.

A coveted invitation to the pull is a “win” in itself, but every puller wants to take home the crystal loving cup that goes home to the top three finalists in each class.

Stark County’s Kevin Schmucker went back to Louisville on a “Rampage,” his pro stock John Deere, hoping to repeat his 2002 grand champion run.

His pull in Saturday afternoon’s 10,200-pound class, at 223.89 feet, however, was only good enough for ninth place in that heat, which sent only the top four pullers to Saturday night’s finals.

Mmm, mmm good! Rick Campbell of Homeworth, Ohio, set the mark to beat in Saturday afternoon’s 10,200-pound class.

Campbell’s John Deere “Soupline Express” pulled 238.02 feet, which stood until Josh Martin’s “Dairy Deere” plowed down the track for a full pull and first place in that semi-final heat.

In Saturday night’s finals, Campbell finished in sixth place with a pull of 236.11 feet.

Buckeye champion. Another Ohioan brought the pro stock class grand champion trophy back to the Buckeye State.

Larry Shope of Bellville, Ohio, rode his Iron Dragon 246.54 feet to a full pull, first place and $3,000 from pull sponsor Syngenta, which offered total prize money of $200,000 at the pull.

Jason Miller of LaMotte, Iowa, was breathing down Shope’s neck with a full pull of 233.06 feet on his “Red Mule.” Miller grabbed second and $2,500.

Scott Teipen of Crothersville, Ind., finished in third with 241.58 feet; Carl Smith of Greenfield, Ind., was fourth with 240.16.

Other Ohioans. Finishing in fifth place in the competitive 10,200-pound pro stock class was Monte McCoy of Warsaw, Ohio, driving Dusk Till Dawn to a pull of 237.86 feet.

Richard Bonner of Mantua, Ohio, won the Wednesday night semi-final pro stock heat with a full pull of 235.52 feet. In Saturday’s finals, Bonner’s “Unforgiven” tractor pulled a similar 235.73 feet, which was good enough for seventh place.

Riding the Bullet. Jordan Lustik of Eighty-Four, Pa., was a crowd pleaser, as his Silver Bullet Agco White tractor went the distance in the 8,000-pound super stock alcohol tractor finals.

Lustik, who won the super stock class at the American Tractor Pullers Association winter nationals in Indianapolis in January, had a full pull of 240.13 feet to take first place and $3,000.

Ohioan Larry Roberts II of Wilmington, finished in fourth with a pull of 228.29 feet.

Female winner. Lisa Tatum of Bardstown, Ky., took her 6,200-pound two-wheel super modified truck, “Full Throttle,” the distance to win the class grand championship at 234.70 feet.

Richard McPherson of Circleville, Ohio, finished in second with a pull of 232.19 feet.

7,500-pound class. There were three full pulls in the finals of the 7,500-pound modified tractor class, but only Joe Eder’s was good enough for first place.

Eder, of North Collins, N.Y., drove his “Sorrento Express” to a full pull of 238.79 feet to claim a back-to-back grand championship.

Tom Bollinger of Stonington, Ill., and Bob Jostock of Lapeer, Mich., both had full pulls, but Bollinger took second with 227.28 feet. Jostock’s pull of 167.22 feet earned him third.

Green Power. Mike Lennehan of Sparta, Wis., went the distance with his “Green Power” tractor to win the 9,300-pound super farm tractor finals. The top pull was 240.41 feet.

In the 8,200-pound super stock finals, Esdon Lehn of Dayton, Minn., had a full pull to take first.

Keith Middleton of Wilmington, Ohio, finished sixth in the 8,200-pound class.

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