We end the month of June by honoring a puller who is arguably one of the greatest pullers of all time, but also has left a tremendous footprint on the sport outside of the straps of a pulling machine. Growing up in Southern Indiana, this Profab Rusty Years to Rusty Gears legend dreamt of racing and hoped one day to be behind the wheel of a screaming winged sprint car on the packed dirt of a speedway located somewhere throughout the Midwest. With his parents by his side and just a teenager, Tim Engler got his first taste of racing and as they left the track that evening his parents told him that he would not be racing anymore.
Knowing that his parents didn’t want him to race, Tim began looking for a new means of tinkering and using his mechanically driven mind. An old friend by the name of Tim Kissel often went pulling with a putt putt John Deere he and his dad owned. After thinking about it awhile, Engler hit the road with Tim to go pulling. At the ripe age of sixteen, Tim Engler sat track side at the National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville, Kentucky, where he experienced firsthand the power of pulling. Watching the pull in Freedom Hall got the gears in Tim’s mind racing as he quickly found the desire to go pulling and ultimately hoped to formulate a plan to be competitive.
After arriving home from the weekend, Engler asked Kissel to help him tow a tractor back to the shop from a location just about ten miles away. Engler figured his parents would support his endeavors in pulling since it was a much safer option than racing. With the same John Deere Kissel used as a puller, he towed a Super M that Engler purchased to its new home. By the time the guys got the tractor to the shop it had two flat tires but it didn’t deter Tim Engler.
The Super M underwent a few changes, as Engler adapted the flywheel to Chrysler and bolted a 383 Chrysler power plant to the chassis. On the very first attempt at pulling, the Super M finished second and taught Tim a lot about what he needed to do to be competitive. This forward momentum however was stalled quickly as things seemed to go downhill in the master plan of dominance.
With an off season to prepare to go pulling in Louisville, Tim prepared to go and show his power, but in his best attempt at the Farm Show, he made it approximately five feet before he experienced the worst fire of his pulling career. The horrifying experience was not what Tim had hoped for by any means, but what came as a result from the horrible fire was an even more driven competitor who decided to take matters even further into his own hands.
The fire in Louisville prompted Engler to start building his own motors, and though he learned a lot the hard way, knowing the quality and effort put in to each motor gave the Princeton, Indiana native the satisfaction he desired when going pulling. Competitors throughout the region were using Cockshutt Rearends, so that was the approach Tim chose to apply for his tractor. He built two Hemi’s and bolted them to the tractor with the Cockshutt Rearend. Power was not a problem, however keeping the tractor together became a tremendous feat as seventeen consecutive times the tractor suffered breakage in the rearend, ring and pinion, and transmission. Embarrassed from the results he had experienced, Engler went to work in the shop to not only keep building his own horsepower, but also to develop some of the parts that had failed him.
Now building his own gears and transmission, Tim was even more involved in knowing just how strong his equipment would be when the time came to call upon the tractor. As part of the transformation, Engler started fresh with a tractor when he bought a 4020 John Deere. He took the rearend, transmission, and ring and pinion out, and converted it all for competition.
The new combination began to click as Tim won several hooks on the Hoosier State Circuit in his first year with the John Deere. The success of the tractor grew even more in the state when Tim added a third motor. With a wave of confidence and winning combination in Indiana, Tim made the voyage to Pulltown USA in Bowling Green, Ohio in the summer of 1979, where he would face the national powerhouses in the modified class. The experience at Bowling Green was humbling and brought Engler back down a few rungs on the ladder.
Having spent hours building his own equipment and machining different components, Engler decided to start his own business in 1980. Knowing he would have to devote all of his time to the business, Tim sold his tractor and all of his parts to make space and free up some time. The only thing he kept from all of his projects was a 1971 Plymouth Cuda that he still has to this day.
Working seventeen hours a day, seven days a week, Tim began to see his business booming as he developed molds and dies for the electronic and medical fields. In the midst of growing his business, Tim married his wife Tammy and began a journey with her whereby they devoted their efforts to establishing themselves as a premier source in the field. With each hour spent in the shop, Tim Engler began to develop a plan for his next pulling tractor in his mind and started to gather parts in the corner of the shop to one day put another modified together. A visionary and admitted dreamer, Engler believed he could turn the pulling world upside down with some of the ideas he had in his mind. It would just take a commitment away from work to do so.
After a long day working in the shop, Engler recalls a conversation he had with his father that still rests in the forefront of his mind today. Seeing the motor parts in the shop, the elder Engler had a few choice words for his son before telling him he had worked too hard to lose everything going pulling. Hearing the words from his dad didn’t stop the younger Engler, as he had gathered enough parts to build two Arias Motors complete, and over the next couple of years the tractor began to take full shape.
In 1984, the new tractor went to the Indiana State Fair for competition where it won. The win inspired a tour with the NTPA where Engler would run in the five and seven thousand pound divisions. Having planned for the future, Tim hoped to run four Arias Motors in the future, so he built his own gearbox that would allow for the four motor setup should the day arrive.
From 1984 to 1986 the seasons seemed to fly by for Tim as he saw continued success and strong results in the modified class. In 1985, he won a few of his thirteen points’ championships on the national circuit which prepped him for a full run of all four modified tractor divisions in 1986. Having been told by many of pulling’s greatest competitors that it was not possible to run the five, seven, nine and Unlimited Classes with the same tractor, Engler had a goal to shoot for as he successfully made weight and went out to turn some heads.
Having learned a lot from the previous year’s efforts of running all four divisions, in 1987 Tim geared up with his Mission Impossible Tractor with hopes of re-writing the history books. That year was magical, as the points’ championships in all four classes came home with Tim and his team. The feat of winning four points’ championships was never replicated again and ultimately raises Engler above many when debating who truly was the greatest.
With the help of some sponsorship dollars from the sanctioning bodies on the national scene, pulling was experiencing a tremendous boom. With entries totaling as many as sixty modified competitors in the five class and over twenty in the Unlimited, pulling was no longer a grassroots sport, but was finding its way into households around the country. Not only was pulling growing, but so too was the demand for Engler Machine and Tool to build products for the competitors Tim was facing throughout the season.
Competitors took note of the ingenuity Engler brought to his own products and before he knew it, some of those competitors not just in the modified class across the country were placing orders for components, chassis’, and guidance for durability in the long days of the summer schedule. With each passing advancement or concept that Engler had, he would work to find a way to make the idea a reality and, more times than not, it wound up being a huge step forward against the competition.
Never one to let himself sit still, Tim voiced his idea of bolting seven engines on the newest “Mission Impossible” tractor, and with yet another challenge in front of him, Engler chose to switch his power combination. After years of relying on the Arias Engine, a new approach was being taken in the form of seven cast iron Chevy’s that were built for the upcoming season. The task of defeating the guys who were running the dominant Arias was daunting at times, but as was the case so many other times, eventually the mastermind behind the wheel figured out a few tricks that allowed his tractor to find an advantage.
In 1988 a new tractor was built that had huge benefits, but a few down sides as well. It wasn’t possible to stay competitive at the five thousand pound weight class, however at the seven level Tim could run five Chevys, which may have been a bit of an advantage. The tractor, right out of the box won three points’ championships when Engler captured the seven, nine, and Unlimited classes to end the season. To say that this tractor was ahead of its time would be a significant understatement, as some of the technology featured on that tractor over twenty five years ago is still in play today.
Over the next few years Tim Engler continued to terrorize his competition as he and his wife swept across the country chasing the ever valuable points on the TNT Motorsports Red Man All American Series . Vowing to remain invested in his business, Engler fought the temptation to let pulling be his career, and many nights while half asleep it seemed, Tim traveled home into the morning in order to be up and in the shop bright and early to get to work keeping the components rolling out for the medical industry.
In 1991 after TNT Motorsports sold the series off, Engler made a decision to follow another dream, and he walked away from the competitive side of pulling with his thirteen championships in hand. Walking away was hard because pulling was what he knew, but the little kid in him had dreamed of racing a sprint car, and that is where the focus for the motorsports icon went. Though sprint car racing was a big thrill, it was ultimately a humbling experience that brought Engler back down to the ground a bit. The racing experience inspired a new product innovation from the shop in Princeton, as an Engler Machine and Tool fuel injection system became a highly sought after product in the coming years from dirt racers throughout the country.
Relying heavily on the words his dad told him when he began producing equipment for competitors, Engler has experienced growth and longevity with his business. Those words are in Tim’s head every day as he aims to produce a quality product, in a fair amount of time, for an affordable price. Though he is no longer racing and pulling, Engler may be more invested in the sports today than he was at the time of his driving career. With competitors around the country and world calling daily to ask for his expertise or to have the distinct touch of the shop in Princeton, business at Engler Machine and Tool is booming.
When asked about his favorite pulling memories it isn’t his accomplishments that stick out in his mind, but more his customer’s achievements. Whether it was a fresh out of the shop diesel super stock that captured the National Farm Machinery Show in its maiden voyage, or convincing a customer to jump into an all new class, buy his old motors and rearend in route to claiming a national title in the Unlimited class, the success has continued for those associated with Tim.
To measure how far the Engler name has reached in the motorsports industry may be impossible, as competitors in both the pulling and racing industry use his products. To this date, Engler Machine and Tool works on parts that are used in NASCAR, the NHRA Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle divisions, World of Outlaws, dirt racing of all varieties, and of course pulling. Not forgetting where he came from in the days of working on a local farm for $3.50 an hour, Tim brings a daily approach to his job that is unequalled by many. The commitment to keeping his customers assured of their success keeps Engler driven, while in the back of his mind he continues to tweak on his next masterpiece.
Whether it was the use of chromoly tubing for a chassis, his innovations with gearboxes, or fuel injection system, it truly is remarkable just how much of an impact Tim Engler has had. Each night as Tim Engler lays his head down for a short bit of rest, he reflects on his day to determine just what it was he learned that day. The findings from each day are what he clings to for reaching his goal of constantly building his knowledge of the industry and how to make products that separate his customers from the competition. It is often said that legends have forgotten more than most mere mortals will learn, and in the case of Tim Engler, I have to believe that statement exemplifies his legendary status to the fullest.
Engler Machine and Tool Quick Facts
Of the 180 entries at the Farm Machinery Show in 2014 Engler Machine and Tool built 60 of them.
Engler Machine and Tool has built:
81 Grand National Champions. (just the ones I know of)
29 TNT National Champions
19 Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League National Champions
14 National Hot Rod Assn. National Champions
19 ATPA Champions
There are tractors currently in: Canada, Germany, England, Netherlands, Holland and the USA.
Tim Engler Quick Facts
1985 NTPA Mechanic of the Year/ Modified Puller of the Year
1986-NTPA Champion Grand National 5200/7200/11,200 classes
1986-NTPA Modified Puller of the Year
1986-Counter Cup Series Champion Modified
1987-NTPA Champion Grand National 5200/7200/9200,11,200 classes
1987-First team to win 4 Grand National Titles in one year
1987-NTPA Modified Puller of the Year
1988-NTPA Champion Grand National 7200/9200/11,200 classes
-NTPA Champion Region I 9200
-TNT Motorsports Champion 7200
1989-TNT Motorsports Champion 7200/9200 classes
1990-TNT Motorsports Champion 7200/9200 classes
2006-Tim was inducted into the NTPA Pullers Hall of Fame
2008-Received the Lucas Oil Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008.
Located in Baldwin, Wisconsin, Profab Machine, Inc. emerged in 1987 with the goal of offering a cost effective product line at the highest quality standards for four-wheel drive pulling trucks. It has since grown to include super stock, pro stock and super farm tractors, as well as two-wheel drive and modified pulling vehicles.
Profab uses modern machinery and the latest technology to produce high caliber products. From the product materials to the heat treating process, quality and satisfaction are the number one concerns for our customers. On the pulling circuit you can catch the Profab Pulling team of Larry and Lisa Peterson in the NTPA Grand National Four Wheel Drive Truck class with both of their Chevy trucks. Click here to visit Profab Machine!