The National Farm Machinery Show Championship Tractor Pull is known as the premiere indoor pulling event in the country. Held inside Freedom Hall at the Kentucky Exposition Center, the Championship Tractor Pull combines a little art and a little science while building on strong traditions. The combination of talented drivers and breathtaking machines contributes to an awesome entertainment event for enthusiastic fans.

The first Championship Tractor Pull was held in 1969 in conjunction with the fourth National Farm Machinery Show, making it the oldest large-scale indoor pull in North America. The invitation-only event brings together powerful and innovative machines from both inside and out of the U.S. and draws sellout crowds for nearly every one of the week’s performances. The basketball court in Freedom Hall is converted into the championship dirt track for the week. And the drivers are transformed from mere truck and tractor enthusiasts to something akin to rocket riders wearing fireproof suits and racing helmets.

 

The competition

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.

 

Family affair

Most of the competitors are families who work together on their vehicles, with one or more family members performing mechanic duties and one serving as the driver in the competitions. Yes, they become attached to their work too; they each give their vehicle its own meaningful, frequently humorous, name.

Vehicles can become expensive hobbies. Sponsorship, though hard to come by, can help a lucky few pay some of the bills that come along with the powerful machines. But sponsorships don’t begin to cover all of the costs. All those tweaks and modifications here and there, such as a different type of oil or more new parts, add up. In spite of the costs involved, pullers emphasize that the tractor-pulling bug bites hard and deep.

For more information about the pull and to see a schedule with 2011 driver information, visit www.farmmachineryshow.org.

 

 

2011 Championship Tractor Pull Class Schedule *

 

Wednesday, February 16, 7:30 p.m.
10,200-lb. Pro Stock Tractors
8,200-lb. Super Stock Tractors
7,500-lb. Modified Tractors

Thursday, February 17, 7:30 p.m.
9,300-lb. Super Farm Tractors
6,200-lb. 2WD Super Modified Trucks
8,000-lb. Super Stock Alcohol Tractors

Friday, February 18, ­ 7:30 p.m.
9,300-lb. Super Farm Tractors
6,200-lb. 2WD Super Modified Trucks
10,200-lb. Pro Stock Tractors

Saturday, February 19, 1:00 p.m.
7,500-lb. 4x4 Super Stock Diesel Trucks
6,400-lb. Lightweight Super Stock Alcohol Tractors
10,200-lb. Pro Stock Tractors

Finals
Saturday, February 19, 7:30 p.m.

6,200-lb. 2WD Super Modified Trucks
7,500-lb. Modified Tractors
10,200-lb. Pro Stock Tractors
8,000-lb. Super Stock Alcohol Tractors
9,300-lb. Super Farm Tractors
8,200-lb. Super Stock Tractors

*All classes are subject to change.