By: Paul Hoblin
Publisher: 21st Century
Publication Date: January 2014
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: March 2014
When you think of tractor pulling, you probably think of a John Deere pulling a wheel rake in a field. Not. If you’ve heard the ear-splitting roar of a tractor or truck engine at a fair, you think of those tractors tearing it up at a tractor-pulling competition. The heart-pounding sights and sounds probably have hooked you right into being a fan, but do you know the history of the sport? Believe it or not, tractor pulling, one of the largest motorsports event, began with horses. Even though John Charter invented the “first gasoline-fueled tractor” in 1887, farmers competed with horses.
Farmers wanted to see whose horse was the strongest so out came the doors. They lay them on the ground, hitched them up to a horse, added the weight of a few men, and tried to see how far a horse could go. In the 1920s tractors took over the competition and “farmers wanted to test their tractors against one another.” Their no-rules competitions grew until “people began modifying their tractors” and the competition grew fierce and dangerous. In 1969 the National Tractor Pullers Association (NTPA) came into play and “created a set of rules that tractor-pulling competitions began to follow.”
Instead of horses pulling doors, big tractors were pulling a lot of weight on sleds, including deadweight sleds. Safety pays in many ways and the rules disqualified driver’s whose tractors didn’t meet the requirements. Other safety features included helmets, concrete barriers to “protect spectators from engine fires,” tractor inspections, and things such as kill switches. The tractors were ever-changing and those engines grew more powerful. In fact, many “were trying to increase the number of engines in a tractor.” You’ll learn about the classes of tractors, modified tractors, divisions, you’ll meet the drivers, and how the tractors are “tearing it up” in competition.
This is an awesome look at the history and sport of tractor pulling young fans will love. The eye-popping layout of the book is quite exciting and action-packed. You can see them as they rev up those engines and spew smoke into the air as they try to pull a load. There’s a lot to be discovered and young tractor pulling fans will pore over these pages trying to get the scoop. There’s a two-page spread showing the "Breakdown of a Tractor-Pull Sled," one that showcases the design and gives out the specs. There are numerous informative sidebars and captions that add to the text. For example, in “Amazing Engines” we learn some very unusual sources for engines. In the back of the book is an index, a glossary, and additional recommended book and website resources to explore.
Quill says: If you have a young tractor pulling fan, this is an exciting book that he or she will get lost in!