Time Capsule – Classic Northwest Tractor Pulling
Classic Northwest Tractor Pulling has a fairly rich history but, results, stats and general info is not easy to find. Dates, both in print and online, are all but impossible to tie down with any certainty, so best be said this story is about as accurate as possible.
The majority of the big shows covered here came during the winter months at a number of relatively new dome stadiums and long-standing hockey arenas in Alberta, B.C. and Washington state. Smaller programs ran at local country fairs throughout the region in the spring and summer making the sport a year-round affair. Sanctioning bodies included both international and local groups.
One of the biggest was the inaugural event at Vancouver’s BC Place in 1985, at the time the world’s largest venue with an air-supported roof. Giant air locks at both ends of the building made for frustrating entry and exit of all the big rigs, but that didn’t affect the 60,000+ screaming fans packing the building.
Other venues you see here include Vancouver’s Pacific Coliseum, Northland in Edmonton, the Seattle Kingdome and the smaller Tacoma Dome. The outdoor shots are from the Abbotsford Fairground and Victoria’s Western Speedway.
The competitors ranged from local farmers to transplanted drag racers. Lynwood Washington’s Jim Green really got into this. His Ford-powered rigs included a triple Boss 429 powered piece, an injected 427 SOHC 4×4 that simply screamed, and a unique Tempo Funny Car driven by his son Ted dubbed the Harwood Hooker.
The big multi-engine tractors were often the stars of the show and included names such as The ‘Godfather” Robert Gioletti from that pulling hotbed of Turlock, CA, Washington’s Jack ‘Capt. Chaos’ Wheatley and Thumper of Dan Utz from New Washington Ohio.
A local pair of tractors each dubbed ‘The Bandit’, were wheeled by Henry Gelderman of Greendale, BC. He would run the mini first then pull the injected BB Chevy out and put it in his triple engine rig and run that very shortly after.
The wild wheelstanding two-wheel drives included Brian Globe’s flopper, the C-cab pickup of Brad Campbell, the always popular ‘Eyore’ Chevy pickup as well as the ‘Risky Business’ Ford of Jerry and Louise Strode from Oregon.
The truck purists simply loved the 4×4 trucks with names like local Ernie Lowen’s ‘Midnight Express’, Ralph Tramp’s ‘Agent Orange’ and Frank Martelli’s ‘Farm Boys Toy’ both of which ran out of Oregon.
Clearly shown in many of these photos is the lack of what is considered today to be ‘mandatory’ safety features. It was common to see helmetless drivers in t-shirts competing and big horsepower pullers running no roll bars or seat belts!
Through it all they always put on great programs that were a staple in the area for over a decade.