2019 season wraps with big pull during Kirkton Fall Fair Sept. 6
By Pat Payton
“It’s a sport where you’re pulling a progressively advancing weight down a 320 ft. clay track,” explains St. Marys resident Brian Harris, one of several local enthusiasts who take their tractors to area competitions in the summer months. “As you go forward on the track, the weight progresses on the sled and gets heavier as you pull. The further you go, the harder it is to pull for the tractor.
“There’s quite a group of us from the St. Marys area involved in the sport,” he noted.
The tractor and driver who carry the load the farthest down the track is the winner in a particular weight class. “The traction, the gearing, engine horsepower . . . and it has a lot to do with the driver, too, where you pick your line on the track,” Harris replied when asked what determines a successful pull. Anything under 50 feet is a non-pull and a driver starts over. Three hundred feet is a full pull.
Heritage Pulling Team
Brian and his 19-year-old son Tanner form the Heritage Pulling Team, sponsored by Brian’s business Heritage Renovations.
Other local pullers include John Nairn and his dad Brent, Alan Sheldon and Ken McLellan. “That’s the group that we pull with,” Brian says. “The tractor-pulling community is very close-knit; they help each other out quite a bit.”
It’s Tanner’s third year competing in the sport. He started pulling with friend John Nairn, who owned an International W6 tractor. “Three years ago, we went up to Milverton and I got second and fourth place in the 5,500 lb. and 6,500 lb. classes,” Harris recalled. “After that, I just kept going to more and more pulls. I was kind of hooked then.”
That’s when dad Brian got involved and he bought a tractor that he and Tanner used in competitions. This year, they purchased a bigger tractor, an Allis Chalmers One-Eighty. “It has somewhere between 85 and 100 horsepower, but we’d like to add more,” Brian said with a smile.
Brian pulls in the light class, the 6,500 hundred lb. division. Tanner pulls in the 8,500 hundred lb. class. Weight classes go right up to 22,500 lbs.
“What’s really appealing is when you’re driving down the track on a loud tractor that blowing black smoke out of the stack,” Tanner says. “Watching them, being on one, it’s just fun. It’s an awesome feeling pulling 8,500 lbs. behind a little tractor and you’re in control of it.
“I’m not pulling to win money, it’s just a great hobby. It’s something I would recommend to anyone who likes tractors in general. It’s fun to work on them and it’s one way me and my dad bond. Me and my buddy Johnny Nairn, that’s how we bond. It’s just a great time.”
Brian and Tanner don’t belong to a tractor pulling association at the present time, although there are a couple of tractor pulling associations in Ontario.
“We’re developing relationships with different pullers and groups,” Brian says. “We’re just learning about the sport and how to get better. We’re novice at it right now, for sure.”
Brian and Tanner estimate they will compete in six or seven pulls in southwestern Ontario this summer. They recently competed at pulls in Aylmer and Milverton. The next scheduled event is in Listowel.
Following the Milverton pull last weekend, Harris says their tractor engine will now be “overhauled” and more horsepower added. Another big pull is in Embro on Aug. 3. It’s one of the biggest pulls in southwestern Ontario and it attracts pullers from as far away as the U.S.
Season finale Sept. 6 in Kirkton
The season finale is the local pull in Kirkton on Sept. 6 during the annual Fall Fair. “We have the big show there,” Brian Harris says. “It’s quite a spectacular event.”
Over 100 tractors will be pulling in Kirkton, as well as four-wheel-drive pick-up trucks and transport trucks. “It definitely helps the Fall Fair out with attendance, too,” he said.
–The sport of tractor pulling first became popular in the 1950s and ‘60s. The tractors replaced horses which used to pull heavy weights at fairs and events.
–There is an Ontario Truck and Tractor Pulling Association and a Southwestern Ontario Tractor Pulling Association.
–There were some great local results posted in Milverton this past weekend. Ken McLellan was second in both the 12,500 lb. and 15,500 lb. classes. Brent Nairn placed third in the 10,500 lb. class, and Brian Harris was fourth in the 6,500 lb. class.
–Dowler-Karn is the primary sponsor of the September tractor-pulling event in Kirkton. There will also be a ‘Smash-up Derby’ at the Fair.