Tough Tuggin': Small Town Hosts Kansas Summer Nationals Tractor Pull
The sound of roaring motors causes the ground to rumble as visitors approach the grass covered field situated on the outskirts of McLouth, Kansas. Crowds of people hurry from their cars with blankets, coolers, and lawn chairs in hand. Everyone is required to stop, pay, and have a florescent green band placed on their arms before entering the area. It’s not a demolition derby or a county fair, it’s not an outdoor concert, or a rodeo. It’s the 2013 Kansas Summer Nationals Tractor Pull. This annual event brings out huge crowds of people including teens, the elderly and young families; there is excitement in the air for everyone to enjoy.
By 6:30 p.m. most bleacher seats are taken and lawn chairs cover the landscape. Spectators wait for the show to begin while enjoying the atmosphere. Smoke fills the air and seems to come from a variety of directions, an overall wearing farmer puffing on a musky cigar, the smoke pit where burgers and turkey drumsticks are sold for dinner, and the billowing stacks of black that come from the heavy metal monsters that will soon entertain the crowd. The smell of kettle corn blends together with everything else as the announcer takes to the microphone.
Across from the main seating area is the announcer’s stage where a cowboy hat wearing man holds a microphone and talks about the drivers who will soon entertain the crowd. Then he asks all to stand and sing along to the National Anthem. Soon after, an eruption of applause means some of the first tractors and their drivers are nearing the arena. It’s a long dirt strip marked with markers at 100, 200, 300 feet and more. The pit team wearing orange jump suits place themselves in the arena while holding onto numerous direction flags.
There are 10 classes of truck and tractor competition planned for the evening including 7400 Modified Tractors, 9000 Pro Field Tractors, 6200 Pro Stock Tractors, and much more. The trucks and tractors with the most unusual names seem to get the most applause. The Green Hornet, Tenacious, and the Plow Boy Express compete in an early run of the 5900 Modified Tractor show. Each driver and his machine begin at the starting point of the arena and with the signal from the pit team, begin revving the engine in preparation for pulling the heavily weighted pulling sled. It is as if they are monsters, alive with a force that can move mountains. The black smoke stack increases as the sound intensifies. Spectators place their hands over their ears to block the unimaginable noise that this creates. The announcer suddenly yells out, “That’s some tough tuggin’ after the 200-foot mark!” Each driver and his tractor compete with all their might, but it is Plow Boy Express that takes first place pulling the sled over 314 feet.
Next, a class of 6200 two-wheel drive trucks with names like Black Sheep of the Family, Country Fever, and Simple Physics move up to the gate. Country Fever takes the title for most attractive with its patriotic tribute, but it is Simple Physics, a Ford truck driven by Richard Nichols that wins first place.
A third class of machines, the 9000 Pro Field Tractors move into place; this group includes the Iron Eagle, Bad Boy’s Toy, and Excalibur as well as others. The Iron Eagle, an International, seems to gain the most cheers with its red trimmed frame and enthusiastic driver, Larry Green. This impressive piece of equipment pulls a distance of over 341 feet, putting him in third place, but it is Husker Harvester who takes first pulling a further distance at 346 feet.
As darkness sets in the competitions wind down, the announcer tells the crowd that the Kansas Summer National was voted best pull of 2012 by all the drivers. A fog appears over the country landscape, and some of visitors begin to disperse, in hopes of not getting trapped in a long line of traffic. It was quite an evening for everyone, one that will pick back up where it left off next year at the 2014 Kansas Summer Nationals Tractor Pull.