MOTORSPORTS IS ALL ABOUT BRAGGING RIGHTS. You know tractor pullers are serious about coming in No. 1 when they shoehorn an 1,800 horsepower motor into something that looks vaguely like it was a garden tractor in a past life.
Even more dedicated are the pullers who can somehow wrench together as many as a quartet — count ‘em 4 — of monster, blown fuel-burning engines totaling more than 5,000 horsepower to try and drag a sled weighing more than 60,000 pounds 300 feet without bogging down.
It’s a Herculean challenge, filled with unbelievable noise, earth-rattling brute horsepower and unparalleled excitement.
Tractor pulling likelyhad its genesis when the first steel-track tractors were sold and farmers started boasting about how their tractor could out-pull their neighbor’s … just like they did when they farmed with horses and mules.
West Coast Nationals tractor and truck power pulling series, scheduled for Feb. 10-11 during the World Ag Expo, those early days will be relived in a modern day challenge to determine which factory tractor can pull the most weight.
Donnie Fagundes, president of the sanctioning body, Pacific Tractor Pullers Association, says at least six dealers have agreed to participate in the event’s first annual Factory Pull-Off.
“We did it a couple of years ago as part of the Tulare County Fair and it came off pretty well. But we didn’t realize how big some of these factory tractors are. We’re ready this time, “says Fagundes, who lives in Hanford, Calif.
“The West Coast Nationals are getting bigger and better every year, but with the current economy and the cost of fuel, we were a bit concerned about drawing tractors from great distances. So, we thought the factory pull-off would be a good draw for local folks, and we’ve had excellent response. We’ll have dealers representing at least six different colors (manufacturers).”
The factory tractors will be new, just like the ones farmers use every day in their fields.
Tractors rated at 180 factory horsepower, weighing 18,000 pounds, with factory front wheel assist, will be allowed to practice pull prior to each evening’s show. During the show, each factory tractor will record an official pull distance.
“Some of the dealers want their customers to drive them for at least one pull, either prior to the show or during the show,” says Fagundes. “I think we’ll have a lot of people driving the factory rigs.”
The winner of the factory pull-off will be the tractor with the longest distance when adding the two showtime pulls.
“We know farmers have their preferences in tractors, and we thought we’d have a little friendly competition,” Fagundes says.
This will be the fifth year for tractor pulls held in conjunction with World Ag Expo, and the fourth event where points will be awarded.
It is part of a two or three-event package that begins the week before World Ag Expo at the Elks/Unocal Event Center and Rodeo Grounds at Santa Maria, Calif. Results there are combined with the Tulare event to crown West Coast Nationals class champions.
“We had 87 pullers last year, and I expect we’ll have about the same this year,” Fagundes says. “People like to make a vacation out of it, with a swing through Santa Maria before coming here. I don’t know if we’ll have tractors from the New York area, as we did a couple of years ago, because of fuel prices, but we’ll have a good representation from the Midwest, Canada, Wyoming and other closer areas.”
Tulare is a good place to be in February. While it may be a bit chilly for Californians, those from colder parts of the country find February in the San Joaquin Valley quite balmy.
The show last year drew about 3,000 spectators over the two-day event at the Tulare County Fairgrounds, which is only three miles from the International Agri-Center.
“People come to see the horsepower and we’ll have plenty of that this year. Our meet has become a premier event on the West Coast,” says Fagundes.
General admission to the West Coast Nationals is $12 per person and pit passes are $10. World Ag Expo attendees who complete online registrations will also be able to use their Expo pass to enter one of the WCN events, saving $12 on event admission.
Many of the tractors are on display during the day at World Ag Expo show grounds.
To purchase tickets go to westcoastnationals.com