Attendees fill grandstand at Walworth County Fair for antique tractor pull
ELKHORN Unless you're involved, your idea of a present-day tractor pull is probably a highly modified, 1,000-horsepower machine that could never be used to plant corn and soybeans.
There is, however, a little known class that features retired tractors from the 1950s and '60s often driven by retired farmers.
Arnold Frank of Milton and his 1963 Case 830 fall into that group.
"My first pull was in 1969 on High Street in Milton," Frank said. "It was on blacktop, and they added weight by guys hopping onto the stone boat we had behind the tractor during the pull."
Frank was on hand to watch the 6,000-pound class antique tractor pull Thursday at the Walworth County Fair. He's in a different class for heavier tractors.
Gary MacKenzie of Whitewater showed up on his 1957 Oliver Super 88. He offered two tips for a long pull.
"You need to get the weight displaced evenly front to back, and then you need to keep the tractor as stock as possible so they don't think you're cheating," MacKenzie said.
Does he cheat?
"No, I'm completely stock," he said. "That's why I like this class. Most of us follow the rules."
John Erbentraut of Genoa City, who made two runs, was the first one down the track. The first was to make sure the sled was operating properly and to "set" it in terms of difficulty.
Erbentraut's first pull was more than 366 feet, which was too much for a 300-foot track.
The sled was reset, and his second run was 261.19 feet.
"I've tried to keep my tractor as original as possible," he said. "I took it out of an old barn and restored it, but it has no performance modifications."
When told some tractors in the class might be modified, Erbentraut shrugged his shoulders.
"It's been known to happen," he said. "I'm not interested in that as much as having fun with an old tractor."
Erbentraut's ride is a 1952 Oliver Row Crop 88, repainted in green with red wheels and yellow lettering.
"White bought out Oliver and other brands, and that was the beginning of the end for them," he said. "They were great tractors, but went away after the failed mergers."
Another former favorite is the International Harvester Farmall. Jeff Peterson's 1952 Super M had a good pull that exceeded the 300-foot mark. He checked in with a pull of 301.55 feet, good for third place overall.
The class for 6,000-pound antiques was won by Travis Henry of Elkhorn on a 1952 John Deere G with a pull of 319.07 feet. Dann Harris of Belvidere, Ill., placed second with a pull of 304.64 on another 1952 International Harvester Super M.