08/05/07 — Tractor pull draws big crowd

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Tractor pull draws big crowd

By Lee Williams
Published in News on August 5, 2007 2:00 AM

DUDLEY -- At the end of a big field packed with red clay, a souped-up tractor roars Friday night as thousands of fans buzz with excitement.

On cue, the brightly-colored tractor, Alcohol Harvester, races down the field at 85 mph while pulling the equivalent of 3,000 horses behind him.

A hail of dirt flies through the air as the Chapel Hill driver blows past the finish line.

"That's a full pull," the announcer from the National Tractor Pullers Association yells as the crowd cheers wildly.

It was the first "full pull" for Wayne County's Truck and Tractor Pull held at Wayne County Fairgrounds Friday and Saturday nights.

The show attracted thousands, which translated into big profits for the Oakland Volunteer Fire Department, which sponsored the event.

The fire department, which is located on Oakland Church Road in Princeton, hosted the event to raise money to build a new department large enough to hold all of its fire trucks and other equipment.

Better equipment often translates into lower home insurance rates, Wayne County Sheriff Carey Winders said.

Winders was one of dozens who turned out for the event that kicked off at about 8:15 p.m. The show was scheduled for 7:30 p.m., but was delayed because the dirt used during the event was too soggy at first.

But the delay didn't damper the mood of the crowd, some of whom traveled from all over the state and as far as Virginia for the show.

During the show, drivers pulled their regular tractor, souped-up tractor, pickup truck and even their own personal vehicle to the start line.

At the word "Go," they raced to the finish line as a cloud of smoke and dirt enveloped them.

Some sprinted down the field with as much as a $70,000 engine under the hood.

Racing a tractor or truck might look easy, but some fans might disagree.

Despite some of the driver's best efforts, some engines died within seconds of leaving the start line. One vehicle overheated during the short haul and the engine burst into flames.

This prompted the firefighters on standby to spring into action.

Some drivers struggled to keep their tractors from driving into a sea of spectators. As the front tires rose from the ground, one tractor driver gripped the steering wheel, turned it left, right and then screeched to a halt.