I guess I have never understood the "pull" of attending a tractor pulling contest.
I get the idea. It is a contest to see whose tractor can pull a bunch of weight the farthest. I guess if you own a tractor, this is important and probably fun for those participating.
But watching it? Please don't be offended if I don't stay for the full show.
Now, this United Pullers of Minnesota competition, which was Tuesday night at the fair, is a little different from your average tractor pull.
Souped up, high-powered, loud and smoky; this is a marriage of tractor pulling and drag racing. It's like tractor pulling on steroids.
To be honest, it is still not "my thing," but now I see the "pull." The grandstand had a big crowd. The parking lot guys told me it was the first time in several years they had to open up the auxiliary parking lot on a Tuesday at the fair.
The United Pullers compete all summer season long, getting points, trophies and prize money along the way. But, at the end of the season, they tally it all up, have a banquet in January and announce the big winners.
On Tuesday night I wandered the pit area and took a few photos of some of these hot rod tractors, pickups and semi-trucks.
That is when I bumped into Bill Suchy, who is the vice president of the United Pullers group. He admitted that there is a lot of time, money and hard work invested in this hobby. But once you get into it, you get totally hooked, he said with a smile.
In fact, one of the souped up pickups in the pit was named "Totally Hooked."
Turns out, that truck is owned and driven by Butch Line, Suchy's father-in-law.
Twenty years ago, Suchy says, his father-in-law was giving him a very hard time about this truck pulling hobby.
Line told his son-in-law this had to be the biggest waste of money he had ever seen.
Then Line drove Suchy's truck in competition. Now, for the past 16 years, he has had his own truck and can't wait for the competition season to begin.
Yes, he got "Totally Hooked."
Suchy himself drives a truck named "Totally Geared." But, he says, it is actually his wife Carol's truck.
She has been one of the top drivers on the circuit. Yes, several women compete in the pulls, and not in a separate class, but right with the men.
Carol, says Suchy, is a much better driver than he is.
Unfortunately, Carol Suchy was badly injured recently; not in a pulling competition, but in a snowmobile accident. It has left her partially paralyzed.
Bill Suchy says he is designing some modifications to the cab of the "Totally Geared" pickup truck to allow Carol to operate it, despite her injuries.
She wants to return to the competition if she can. Because she, too, has been totally hooked by this sport.
So, maybe I have to rethink my whole outlook on tractor pulls. There might be something there after all.
But, if you go next year, I have some words of advice.
Wear ear plugs.
And try not to get "hooked."