On Aug. 22 a different kind of horsepower will be tearing up the track at Grand River Raceway.
A mob of mutant monster machines will meet on the infield for a gargantuan gear-grinding grudge match, otherwise known as The Grand River Truck and Tractor Pull.
“This particular pull draws top competitors from all over Ontario,” said Marlin Stoltz, the event’s announcer for more than a decade. “Grand River Raceway’s track is recognized as one of the best in Ontario. Competitors will travel several hours for an opportunity to pull on it.”
The concept of truck and tractor pulls originates to days when farmers used draft horses to pull farming machinery. Arguments about whose horse was stronger were settled in a friendly competition. Hitching the horse to a barn door laid flat on the ground, people would jump on one by one as the load was towed along. The horse who managed to pull the most people the greatest distance was deemed the strongest.
The sport has come a long way, but the objective is the same.
“The basic concept is that a unit (truck or tractor) hooks up to a weight transfer system (called a sled). As they draw the sled down the 300 foot track, the sled transfers more weight onto the pan, which is what the units are dragging. The more weight on the pan, the harder it is to pull, and that’s what slows them down. Speed is not a part of it; it’s strictly the distance.”
Small units pull as much as 20,000 pounds while more powerful units can pull up to 70,000 pounds.
There are several different classifications of pulling units, usually separated by weight. Tractors that may have had 100 horsepower when they were just out of the box are today putting out over 500. Car engines that used to put out about 500 horsepower now put out as much as 1,500.
Stoltz said, “It’s a very exciting evening if you like speed, smoke and noise. Units will come screaming down the track, revved way up. Normally they would run at about 2,000 rpm, but they’ll be coming down the track at about 7,000 rpm.”
The auditory extravaganza will be made more agreeable thanks to hearing protection that will be provided. The Farm Safety Association and M&G Millwrights Ltd., of Elmira have donated ear plugs that will be available free of charge for spectators.
Many other farm equipment companies including Stoltz Sales and Services and Elmira Farm Service have made significant contributions.
Since the pull’s inception several decades ago on the fairgrounds of Elmira, members of the local agricultural scene have met annually to help with the event.
“I love the sport, and I love the people that are involved with the sport,” said Stoltz. “There is a sense of camaraderie amongst the competitors. As much as they compete against each other, if something breaks, competitors will come running to help. If there’s something that can be fixed quickly at a competition, I’ve seen half a dozen competitors working together on somebody’s unit to get it up and running real quick so they can take another shot at it. You just don’t see that in a lot of other Sports.
“Everybody works together.”