The smell of diesel and wet turf was thick at yesterday’s WGAS Motorsports Truck and Tractor Pull at the Stanislaus County Fair. The wind kicked up clouds of dust, but neither that nor the plumes of dark smoke could deter the massive audience that the pull collected.
For those unfamiliar with truck and tractor pulls, they’re a motorsport competition wherein modified trucks and tractors pull a heavy sled down a 300-foot track. The machine that pulls the heavy sled the farthest wins.
Each of the machines is put into separate classes and made to pull a certain weight on the sled. If more than one tractor completes the 300 foot track, additional weight is added to the sled and competitors face each other in a “pull-off.”
How a tractor pull works is the sled that’s used is a “weight transfer sled,” meaning that as the sled is pulled down the track, the weight shifts from its initial place over the rear axles and towards the front of the sled. This makes it so the further the sled is pulled, the harder it is to pull it.
The event began with a bit of history on the origin of the tractor pull, announced by John Borba, the CEO of WGAS Motorsports. He mentioned that the idea began in the 1860s when farming machines were pulled by horse. Farmers purportedly boasted about the strength of their horses, and put it to the test by having them pull barn doors laden with any number of people. The horse that pulled the door with the greatest amount of people the longest was considered the winner.
The pull began shortly after the history was detailed. There were several tractors of note which took to the track — the most eye-catching of them being White Lightning, which had a jet engine installed and would intermittently send up a pillar of flame. The announcers even drew attention to the first female of the pull, Brittney Thompson, who did pulled the sled an impressive 170 feet. Several local pullers also joined the fun and tested their machine on the sleds.