More than 600 would-be competitors submit applications each year. A selection committee reviews the applications before inviting 200 vehicles to take part in the competition. Vehicles are divided into classes based on their weight. The classes include 7,500-lb. Modified Tractors, 9,300-lb. Super Farm Tractors, 6,200-lb. 2WD Super Modified Trucks, 8,200-lb. Super Stock Tractors, 8,000-lb. Super Stock Alcohol Tractors, and 10,200-lb. Pro Stock Tractors. A new class was added to the competition this year: 7,500-lb. 4x4 Super Stock Diesel Trucks.
The driver’s objective in each class is to pull a weighted sled the farthest distance down the track. Pulling the full length of the track constitutes a “Full Pull.” If two or more drivers in a weight class achieve a Full Pull, additional weight is placed on their sleds. The driver who then pulls the sled the farthest wins. Saturday night finals were added to the NFMS Championship Tractor Pull in 1993. Each driver is required to compete in a semifinal round to earn the right to advance. Veteran competitors are quick to point out that a strong semifinal showing doesn’t mean the championship round will be easy to win.
Competitors are vying for more than $200,000 in prize money. Top finishers also claim trophies and crystal cups to reward their accomplishments. Syngenta sponsors the popular event.
The vehicles are modified, often with racing parts, to create an extremely powerful (and loud) pulling machine, sometimes even using modified airplane engines for extra power. This leads to a noisy, but thrilling, experience for the crowd.