Roaring engines and flying dust equals family fun
On both Friday and Saturday evening, the Crook County Fairgrounds were filled with roaring engines and thick clouds of dust as some of the best truck and tractor pullers in the Northwest descended for the second annual truck and tractor pull.
With crowds of more than 400 people each day, event organizers were thrilled with the response from the community.
"It was awesome," said race attendee Luke Linscheid, of Prineville. "We got to come here with my mom and spend time with friends, and my dad had to stay home with the two younger kids and babysit. I really liked how loud it was. It was louder than monster trucks."
The event is family friendly with competitors taking the time to talk with members of the crowd following the conclusion of Saturday's pull.
Excited kids sat atop giant tractors and posed for photos while their parents talked to drivers and mechanics about horsepower and torque.
"My favorite part is this tractor that I was just on," said Prineville's Ethan Holt. "This morning I met a guy, Ethan, and that's my name, so he was driving this tractor. I really liked how fast they were going. It was just a blast."
Ethan Smith, of St. Paul, the driver that Holt was referring to, drove in the hot farm tractor category with a long pull of 337.16 feet, good enough to take second place in the category.
Cole Charpilloz, of Mount Angel, won the division with a pull of 385.38 feet, one of the best pulls of the day, regardless of category, while Chris Taber, of Shoshone, Idaho, was third with a pull of 335.51 feet.
There were just two tractors in the multi-engine category of tractors, but they were certainly crowd favorites.
Larry Pfenning, of Salem, made the first run Saturday night in the category, making a run of 471.53 feet in a tractor that had three 526 cubic-inch blown alcohol hemi engines.
Pfennig's run was immediately edged by Gary Sytsma, of Burbank, Washington, who managed a pull of 475.73 feet with a set of five 540 cubic-inch Chevrolet engines that generated an incredible 10,000 horsepower.
Stock tractors was the largest category at the competition, with many of the contestants coming from Crook County.
The Smith family was especially prominent in the stock tractor category as they made multiple pulls with a series of tractors.
Doug Smith, a member of the Crook County school board, earned family bragging rights this year as he had a long pull of 308.51 feet, on a 1957 John Deere model 820. The run was good enough to win the division.
Zach Smith's longest run was a pull of 280.55 feet on a 1957 John Deere model 620 that was good for second place overall.
Rob Katzenberger, also of Prineville, finished third on a 1958 John Deere model 720 with a pull of 273.50.
Meanwhile, Cody Smith had a long pull of 256.06 feet on a 1957 John Deere model 720, good for fourth place in the division.
However, Cody got the last laugh moments later when all three Smiths entered a slow tractor race.
The object of the race was to be the slowest tractor down the track. The only rule, essentially, is that the tractor cannot stop.
Despite his best efforts, Doug started to pull away from his sons midway through the race, while Cody and Zach were neck and neck throughout the 200-foot race. Cody finally won, as Zach edged across the finish line inches in front of him.
In the truck division, Charles Coad, of Grand Ronde, won the pro modified division with a pull of 239.04 in a 1960 Ford F-100.
Dave Anderson, of Forest Grove, had the long pull in the super stock division driving "The Stomper," a 1995 Chevy pickup 315.13 feet.
Brendan Duyck, also of Forest Grove was just behind with a pull of 302.93 in a 1972 Chevy C-20.
Annette Anderson, also of Forest Grove, was third in the division with a pull of 278 feet in "The Rust Bucket," also a 1972 Chevy Pickup.
"It's actually my daughter's truck," said Anderson, who had a breakdown on her final pull of the competition. "I was lucky enough to pull her truck cause she couldn't be here today. Her dad and her built that truck for her."
Anderson added that the family started in pulling competitions driving lawn tractors about eight years ago.
"We currently have, I believe, 17 lawnmowers and seven trucks," she said. "We try to pull all over the Northwest, but there has been a decline in some of the pulls this year. It's a family thing, and if you try it, you will get hooked."
In the past, women have been rare at truck and tractor pulls. However, in recent history, the number of woman participants has begun to increase.
Anderson was far from the only woman to compete at the event.
Jennifer Wills, of Lyons, competed in the country modified division, getting a best pull of 205.15 feet driving Insane Addiction, a 1985 GMC pickup cab that has been welded onto a Blazer body.
"I started two years ago," Wills said. "A friend of mine got me involved in driving our truck, and I was hooked after that, so my husband built ours. It's absolutely a blast."
Larry Hageman, of Lebanon, won the division with a pull of 245.51 in a 1976 Dodge W150, while Troy Hageman, of Eddyville, was second with a pull of 237.46 in a 1997 Dodge Ram 2500.
One of the most popular divisions in the competition was the stock pickup division.
K.C. Ludecker, of Prineville, blew away the competition with a pull of 517.89 in a 2012 Dodge 3500 flatbed truck.
Trevor Ells, of Prineville, was second with a pull of 476.61 in a 2006 Ford F250, earning bragging rights among all the Ford owners.
Zachary Hastings, of Redmond, was third with a pull of 427.55 in a 2002 Dodge Ram 2500.
The final competition of the day was for lawn tractors and ATVs with Zach Hagemeister taking first on a 1975 Allis Chalmers model 200. Travis Puckett was second on a 2004 Suzuki Ozark ATV.
"We loved it," Wills said. "The crowd was great. Once you do it, you are hooked. You will have fun. The competitors are like my family, and it's just a blast."