ADENA, Ohio — For a Jefferson County family, tractor pulling is more than just a weekend hobby, it’s in the blood.
Jack and Ralph Hamilton, are the father-and-son team that captured first place in the Power Pulling Productions division of the Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League this year. The duo received their Limited Pro/Super Farm honors in Indianapolis, Ind. Oct. 12 for the highest number of points earned on the regional group’s circuit this year — 474.
The duo takes turns pulling “Unforgiven,” the John Deere 4455 tractor they say they made from the ground up.
The dream of taking first place was not without trials and tribulations over the years.
Jack started pulling tractors more than 25 years ago. He started in the stock farm class with a 9600 Ford tractor and garnered many awards and trophies for his wins while pulling in the class.
Then, in 1992, he decided he wanted to try another class, and he purchased his first Pro-Stocker.
Fast forward to today and he can’t imagine doing it without his son at his side.
Jack, 69, said it is something that gets inside of you and you have to keep competing.
As one of the oldest pullers on the circuit, he said it’s more than competition.
“I like talking to the other pullers,” Jack said.
He added there is a camaraderie among the pullers and they are willing to help each other out, right down to lending a part to another competitor.
“Pullers are a unique bunch. We’ll help each other,” Jack said.
In 2008, the Hamilton Farms team had a total of six wins but brought home only second place in the points standings.
The major reason the team competed in a fewer number of pulls in 2008 was a medical emergency for Jack. At a pull in Pennsylvania, he had not been feeling his best. He pulled and lost consciousness on the track during the pull.
Jack was taken by air ambulance to a Pittsburgh hospital where he stayed in the intensive care unit for a couple of days until they discovered blood clots. He was out of the driver’s seat from June 2008 through September 2008.
That didn’t stop him, though. He recovered fully over the winter and returned to pulling in 2009.
“You have to be behind the steering wheel in the seat to understand why I was in such a hurry to get back there,” Jack said.
This time, the team returned with one goal: First place.
Their travels took them all over the eastern United States including New York, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Ohio.
In 2009, the team only had one first-place win, however they were able to secure the championship through the number of points they consistently garnered at each pull.
His dad agrees, but thinks it may be more than just an engine.
“You can have some driver error, but it comes down to the components,” Jack said.
The duo utilizes sponsorships from Kuester Implement in Bloomingdale, Ohio, and their own hard work to keep their tractor in the pulling lane on the track.
“We do 90 percent of the work ourselves,” Ralph said.
The father and son work during the off-season to complete the mechanical work and body work on the tractor.
After months of work on the pulling tractor, the team will head to the Keystone Nationals Indoor Truck and Tractor Pull, the first pull of the year in March.
And the Hamiltons have their eyes set on a repeat performance of 2009.
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