The faint haze of smoke and the rumble of chugging tractor engines filled the Boone County Fairgrounds on Friday and Saturday at the National Antique Tractor Pullers Association’s championship weekend.
Friday’s competition was open to the public, provided their tractors met certain safety standards. Saturday’s grand prize championship was restricted to competitors who had done two of the 18 pulls that began with the November season opener in Columbia. Competitors from all over, but particularly the Midwest, participated in the championship.
Tractors of multiple hues decorated with names, flames or phrases such as “bad as I wanna be” waited on the downward slope to the clay-covered arena floor Saturday to pull for the $10,000 grand prize. To qualify as antique, the tractors must have been manufactured before 1959.
The grand prize will be divided among the winners in each of 45 different classifications. The results will be posted on the NATPA Web site at www.natpa.com.
Susie Bear, last year’s national champion, said she enjoys the travel. She said her husband always loved pulling, and now she loves it as much as he does. “It’s the thrill of speed and winning,” she said.
NATPA promoter Vicki Crum said members enjoy the social atmosphere the tractor pull provides.
“It’s an inner-circle, friendship kind of thing,” she said.
Although many members have an agricultural background, the number who are farmers is small.
Tractor buffs attend the pulls for various reasons.
“This is an affordable way to be competitive in a motor sport,” Burch said. “It’s a chance to relive my childhood.”