Not your typical tractor pull
DAYTON — Dayton Old Engine Day, held last weekend, brought cars, trucks and tractors to show in a range of sizes. Sizes from full-scale models down to 1/16 scale — and those smaller ones, were put to work.
In conjunction with the various activities held throughout the city of Dayton, the National Micro-Mini Tractor Pullers Association held a sanctioned pull.
“We enjoy putting pulls on when there’s other events going on like this,” said Bill Vote, a Micro-Mini Tractor puller. “It brings people out and Dayton Old Engine Day is a perfect combination with our pulls and the show.”
Vote said the NMMTPA held its first sanctioned pull in 1976, so the sport is nothing new, but Vote said it has recently become more of a past time for him, especially, since 2000.
“I did some pulling back in the 1970s, but I have been doing it hot and heavy for the last 17 years,” he said.
The NMMTPA, Vote said uses 1/16 scale models from ERTL-type tractor or Tonka-type trucks what are fitted with a model airplane or car nitro engine.
“Then they are geared down to pull a weigh-transfer sled, which is the same as the big boys, only it’s a 1/16 scale,” said Vote.
There are currently seven sanctioned NMMTPA classes:
• Three pound Pro Stock Tractor
• Five pound Pro Stock Tractor
• 2 WD Road Vehicles
• 5 pound Super Stock Tractors
• 4×4 Trucks
• 6 pound Unlimited Tractors
• 7 pound Semi.
Vote said during a sanctioned pull, you are able to pull two vehicles in each class.
“So some of these guys with a full boat will have 14 units,” said Vote. “Personally, I pull in five classes, so I have 10 units. And what I mean about 10 units is, I have 10 sets of tires, 10 sets of motors, 10 frames, 10 of everything — plus the parts. You got to have a lot of parts.”
A lot of the pullers, he said will build all of their own pulling vehicles, with the exception of some of the specialty parts required.
Tires, for example, are one part that many of the pullers will buy. In some cases, Vote said a tractor or truck will require a foam tire with silicone over the top.
“But a lot of the frames, these people build on their own,” he said. “It has really evolved over the years from taking Cox Dune Buggy motors and adapting them to the tractors. Now, a days we build our own frames and put the hood of the truck or tractor on that.”
Typically, Vote said the tractor pulls are held on a plywood, table top track that is 16 feet long by 2 feet wide.
Each event is different, Vote said.
“The conditions will affect the track, like humidity for example,” he said. “You have to make those adjustments, as far as hitch height and weight transfer, whether you put it on the front or the back, so you have to change and adapt to the day.”
These trucks and tractors may be mini, but they can pull a hefty amount of weight, Vote said.
“A three pound stock tractor will pull 80 to 100 pounds starting out and we will work our way up through seven classes to the open/unlimited class,” he said. “The tractor can only weigh six pounds, but you can put any kind of motor on it you want and we have seen 1,000 pounds of led weight on the skid, so 400, 500, 600 pounds is not unheard of typically.”
For as long as the NMMTPA has been around, Vote feels micro-mini tractor pulls aren’t necessarily growing in popularity at this time, cost is an issue, but remote control units seem to be what is now more common.
“It gets more and more expensive, and it’s not remote control,” he said. “Remote control is heavy right now we guide our trucks and tractors, there’s no remote control.”
Micro-mini trucks and tractors, Vote believes are unique because it is something not a lot of people have had the opportunity to witness.
“I don’t think too many people have seen this scale of tractors going down a track pulling that kind of weight,” he said.
Vote said there are pulls held throughout the country, but he typically sticks to the pulling circuit held throughout the Midwest, primarily, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas and Wisconsin.
Last year he said he pulled in 15 events, however the association held 42 pulls, nationwide. These pulls, Vote said are held all year around.
“I just pulled in March down in Kentucky at the national pull,” he said. “We are pulling for points and the point leaders get together for a Super Pull, the best man wins, basically.”
It’s been several years since Vote had that kind of taste of victory with a Super Pull win.
“I won a national pull in 2010 and I have been trying to get it ever since and I haven’t,” he said.
Although it’s not a Super Pull victory, Vote has still brought home some wins.
“It seems every year, I will win at the annual meeting pull and what I mean by that, is everybody that comes to the Super Pull has the opportunity and we will all pull. The Super Pull will have eight to 10 guys, the annual meeting pull will have however many units there are and last year, we had 33 in one class that I won. I was more proud of that, I guess than the Super Pull.”
It’s the friendships and camaraderie that Vote said is one of the better aspects of the micro-mini tractor pulls.
“I would have never met a lot of these guys otherwise,” he said. “You get a loyalty to them, and they have a loyalty to you, there are many that travelled to come to Dayton today, so I wlll be travelling to their shows.”
The sport is definitely addictive, he said.
“It’s a hobby, something that you get hooked on and we are crazy about it,” he said. “It’s just a fun little sport. Ask any guy here what they think about it. They get hooked. It’s the idea of building something on your own and going out and having the pleasure of it winning. “
The tractors may be small, but the work put in to getting the tractors ready and the set up for a show, on the other hand, is not.
“It’s a lot of effort, it’s not easy to put on a pull,” said Vote. “But it is fun, and as long as I’m having fun, I will keep on doing it.”