Saturday, July 12, 2008

Tractor Pull

If you've never been to a Tractor Pull, you probably ought to at least once in your life. It's a big. deal. All the girls get totally gussied up and all the guys have on their best sleeveless shirts with rude sayings on them. Everybody smokes and chews and spits and drinks wildly expensive cans of beer.

Then there's the marvels of modern machinery that roll down the track about every four minutes. Everything from stock, off the lot farm tracktors up through modifieds, super modifieds, pro stockers, super stockers and the ultimate... the unlimiteds. Monsters roar by consuming mass quantities of everything from pump diesel to jet fuel to methanol dragster fuel. The ground shakes, your eyeballs jiggle in thier sockets.

And these machines are the weekend hobbies of farmers and contractors, regular folks who put their all into it for a single shot on a Saturday night. There's just something particularly inspiring about a guy or a family who works their life away, and then for fun on the weekends sinks a few hundred grand into mounting three huge V-8s on a chassis for the purpose of driving it just over 300 feet... if they're lucky.

There's something strangely personal about it as well. Maybe you know the owner or the driver. Some folks root for the John Deere's and when an International blows up mid-run you hear jeers of, "Shoulda bought a green one buddy!" And vise versa of course. Maybe just the mere thought of 5000 horsepower on a single chassis makes it OK to live the rest of the year in a sea of wimpy compacts. I swear to Heaven that i once saw a row of white haired old men get all misty when a tractor sporting twin vintage Allison V-12 airplane engines roared past, apparently trailing the glory of American WWII air superiority from the stacks, invisible to the rest of us. And don't even get me started about the Mopar guys. When one particular beastie hooks on to the sled sporting triple 426 Hemi blocks, the ground actually starts to shake before the run from all the fans of old time Detroit muscle.

I try to make it every year. Sometimes I sit with my brother-in-law and we drool over technical data. Sometimes I sit with my redneck buddies and shout things like, "Hold yer hands up boys, it's rainin' parts!" when one blows up. I sat with my Mom and a forign exchange student from Spain one year, puffing on a cheap cigar and getting a face full of beer. My favorite is bringing along city folks to see the wide eyed disbelief on their faces, and then waiting to see weather they get it or not.

Ahh the tractor pull, so wasteful, so wonderful, so decidedly rural American. Sometimes I'm jealous of my city friends who have all manner of cultural experience at their fingertips. I'll take a pass on the sushi and the opera though... at least when it's time for the pulls.

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