Winter Pulling Recap
I never thought that Louisville would get here so fast. However, the week prior seemed like the longest week ever. With just two weeks left until showtime, we had two tractors on the shop floor motor-less and even one stripped down to the bare frame. Youngblood was an easier project to finish than The Legacy. It seemed like within only a few days of getting the motor back to the shop we had it up and running. On the other hand, The Legacy was a more difficult task to handle. Due to my previous explosion at Urbana, we had to get the sheet metal remade and order several new parts. To knock out two birds with one stone, while we were putting the motor in the tractor, we were also busy creating The Legacy’s new look. One thing that did not help the time go by any faster was the last minute changes to the new decals. Some issues we had with the decals was that a few did not fit, one was messed up while putting it on, and the worry of getting the decals shipped to us in time. Through the many troubles and setbacks, we managed to finally get the tractor together the day before we pulled. Luckily, this year I was able to leave Tuesday and stay for the whole week.
Louisville is not only a fun time, but it always seems like a cold time too. Getting the tractors unloaded and the pipes put on seemed like the coldest 45 minutes of my winter. However, we soon got the tractors parked in broad bent and had plenty of time to warm up. Not long after I found myself walking around the show killing time. Later after we warmed up and parked in Freedom Hall, I had to focus on my next obstacle before we pulled, drivers introduction. It ended up going smoothly and actually quite comical because of the comment I made towards my dad. After the show got started, my dad pulled Youngblood ahead of me at 2nd hook. Sadly, the old man was a little rusty at driving. Unlike three-hundred and twenty-foot outdoor tracks, Louisville’s track is about eighty-foot shorter. With that being said, the weight box on the sled moves a lot quicker. This eliminates the option of slipping it out of the hole and requires to get off the clutch a lot quicker. However, my dad tried slipping it out and the RPMs jumped upstairs too quickly causing it to hook really hard and make the front end bounce the whole way down the track. He ended up only going 201 feet and finished 2nd to last. On the flip side of things, The Legacy was a little heavy on the nose and had some mechanical trouble but still had a decent pass, putting it at 241 feet. It finished 6th, just enough to make it to the finals.
After enjoying a bit of pulling and the farm show during the week, Saturday’s finals came pretty quick. The Super Stock Diesel Finalists had a hard track and a heavy sled. Due to the first puller of the class having some mechanical trouble, we were misled to think, mistook the conditions that we were in. As a result, my front end was too heavy and the nose stayed on the ground the whole pass. I finished with a pull distance of 213 feet and a 5th place. Congratulations to Jody Ross on finishing 1st both nights. Even though we didn’t come out with the win, I had a blast being there all week and I’m ready to kick off the pulling season!
We weren’t expecting to make another pull before summer time but due to some breakage, cancelations, and the hospitality of Doug Roberts, we decided to go to the Western Farm Show. Following Louisville, the tractors were sounding great and only needed little maintenance. Since I couldn’t be there to get the tractors ready and loaded for the show, I had to come to Kansas City the day of. Thankfully, I had my cousin Josh drive with me and my friend Jake that evening. I showed up just in time for Driver’s Introduction and switched spots with my grandpa who was going to fill in for me. Unlike normal for the Super Stock Diesel class, we were the 5th class in the lineup, so we had some time to enjoy some of the pull before we ran. The Legacy was the second hook and in this case, the earlier the hook was the better hook. The tractor sounded good coming off the line, but with the track being as hard as it was and the nose being too heavy, we didn’t get hooked up near like what we wanted to. On top of that, towards the end of my run the throttle cable broke, shutting me down and taking away extra potential distance. Young Blood, on the other hand, was second to last in the line up which hurt the run. From practically start the finish, the tires buzzed the whole way down and never really hooked up. Thankfully, The Legacy’s run held up and we were able to walk away with the win! Young Blood is running good but since it wasn’t able to get the power to the track, it finished 4th. Both tractors seem to be in good shape and ready for the upcoming season! Hopefully, time goes by quick because I’m anxious to get outdoors and go pulling!
Chapel Hill and Beyond
Chapel Hill time is just about the best time, even though it’s hot almost every year. We had a super busy week prior to making it to Tennessee. Throughout the week we tore the diesel motors down to the block, took all six motors off the mod, and had everything back together by Thursday night. It seems as if pulling is more like a job this year. I can’t think of a single week that we haven’t tore down a motor or at least worked on one. Anyways, we made it down to the Pull of the South with all three tractors. However it seemed like all the work we put in didn’t quite pay off like we wanted it to. The track was very inconsistent both nights. It seemed like there was a 6 inch layer on the top that was soft dirt and underneath it was real hard. So, I drove both tractors out easy, especially the second night. However, they just kept breaking through that top layer of soft dirt and would hook real hard when it hit the tougher dirt, causing it to then unhook. This just made the tractors bounce the whole way down. We finished 9th and 10th Friday and 11th and 12th Saturday. I was happy that I was able to see my dad drive Friday night for the first time in awhile. I finally was able to talk him into it since it was his anniversary that day. However, he usually just tells me that the reason he doesn’t want to drive is that he enjoys watching me more than anything. Also, Congratulations to the Blagraves for doing an awesome job of driving and getting two wins! On the flip side of things, the mod did a decent job. We took 5th the first night. I was first hook and I drove it too soft causing the motors to pull down too much. I hardly any RPM going down the track so I turned the poor pass down and dropped to last. When I came back I drove it out quite a bit harder giving us a pretty good pass for the hook position we had. I was last hook to begin with on Saturday night. I came out hard like I did the previous run and it hooked up quick. I had the farthest pass of the class at 318. Now I needed to do it in the pull off. Purser put down another good pass at 314. All I had to do was make a pass just like the first. I came off the line the same and it was on track for 320. Then when I got close to the end, it hit a rough patch. The chassis really started flexing and it rocked me all around in the cage. That slowed me way down and I spun it in at 307. Even though I was disappointed that it wasn’t enough for first, I was still happy to get a 2nd. I was also happy with the fact that it seems like this is the first time that it made 4 passes in a row and came home all in one piece with nothing wrong. That’s an accomplishment itself. As far as the diesels’ performances that weekend, just about all we can do is improve from those results.
Our next stop was a little bit farther away. A 10 hour drive to Ionia, Michigan goes by fast when you get to sleep. We go through the normal routine once we get up there and get things ready. We got back to the pits and watched the first tractor go by. The track was real hard, especially at the starting line, and was pretty good if you could get hooked up early. The Legacy was up first and I drove it out the most I ever have. It was close to 100 feet before I even had full throttle. That’s when it hooked and took it past 320. After that, Youngblood did the same thing except it took it out the other end even easier than the Legacy. We were now in the pull off with both tractors and 4 other ones. The Blagraves put down a heck of a pass and went way out the end. When I came back with The Legacy, it just never hooked up and had a disappointing run with a distance of 293. Young Blood on the other hand, hooked up not as good as what it did the first time, but better than The Legacy. We were soon headed to home with a 3rd and a 5th.
Salem, Illinois is one to look forward to as well. Not necessarily because of the pulling, but because of the homemade ice cream stand. We got unloaded and I made sure to go get my pre-game ice cream before I went back to the pits. The track didn’t seem too bad as we were getting ready to run. Lucky me, I pulled both tractors back to back. That’s usually the way it works out when I draw numbers. Young Blood was up first and I started to drive it out with a nice gradual takeoff. It hooked up quick and hard. Then when I got about 3/4 of the way down the track, the pump messed up and it seemed like I lost a quarter of the fuel going to the motor. I then felt myself lunge forward from the loss of momentum. It stopped me pretty quick after that and when I pulled back on the throttle after spinning out, I realized the pump was stuck wide open on me. I quickly reacted and pulled my fuel shut off and killed it. It all seemed like it was out of natural reaction because I never really had time to think about what was happening or time to get worked up about the situation that I was in. I got off the tractor safely and rode the kubota for thrill ride #2. I drove The Legacy the same as I did Young Blood except we were too light on the nose which made me bounce the whole way down. We took 5th and 6th and congrats to Esdon on getting his first win of the season. I was disappointed with the finishes we came out with and I thought nothing could possibly cheer me up. That was until I went for round number two of homemade ice cream.
It’s no doubt we are having trouble with the super stocks right now. It’s frustrating to come out of the weekend the way we did. We are looking to improve this weekend in Napoleon, Ohio. The tractors are running strong and all we have to do is get the power from them to the track. Once we get back in sync of being able to do that, and we will, it’s going to be a whole different ball game.
2015 is off and running!
Pulling season is here once again! I’m excited as I am every year and even more since we are going to try to run the whole circuit this year. We started it off strong up in Hutchinson, MN. The Legacy finished with a 1st the first night. Had an early hook while the track continued to get better. My dad told me my driving skills were going to be tested as he decided to put me right next to the left chalk line. I wasn’t too nervous until that happened. The last thing I wanted to do was drive out of bounds. However, I managed to get only a few inches away and still keep it in bounds. I drove Young Blood not long after and finished not too far behind The Legacy and snagged a 3rd. The second night we had early hooks again and the Legacy took the lead up until the very end where John Raymond came through and won the class. Young Blood had a nice pass and finished with a 4th.
Everything seemed to be in good shape as we headed into Tomah. Young Blood put down a nice smooth pass and in the end finished with a 3rd. The Legacy had an awesome run going until I got sucked over to the right and had to use my brake. It finished with a 6th. John Raymond came out with the win. Sadly, the second day was rained out and not all of the tractors got to run.
We just came out of New Hampton this past weekend after having some time off from the points race. The first evening Young Blood was a little heavy on the nose and having an early hook hurt, knowing the track got exceptionally better. It finished with 7th place. The Legacy came later in the class and had a pretty good run to give us a third. Steve Burge had a great pass and took the win. The second night The Legacy was light on the nose but still had a decent run. It finished with a 6th. Young Blood on the other hand hit a rough patch and took a bad ride. On top of that, the motor is hurt. It finished 11th. Steve Burge took the win again, giving him a double win for the weekend.
It looks like this week is going to be a busy one. We have a lot of work to do to both tractors in a short amount of time before we head into Chapel Hill. If we are lucky, we might even be able to get the unlimited ready to bring out for the first time this year.
Winding Down my Rookie Season
Bowling green didn’t go the way we would have liked it to but we are continuing to figure things out and get better. Give credit to PullTown for the best track they have ever had and one of the best we have ever pulled on. It was just about “too good” for us because we didn’t have enough front end weight to keep the nose down. My dad finished with a fifth with Young Blood and I got a 13th with the Legacy in the first SSD session. The second SSD session didn’t go much better. I ended up with a 7th and my dad got a 12th. Congrats to Burge and the Blagraves on winning. Overall, we didn’t have any good runs the whole weekend with the diesels and it made us sick to our stomach. The tractors got to bouncing and we never went any where. The unlimited did much better on the upside of things. In the first unlimited session, I made it into the pull off with Bauer and Archer. It ran real good until the pull off pass. About half way down the track I kicked the rods in one motor and stripped a belt on another. I guess you could say I’m hard on things. I finished with a third and Adam had won it with an awesome pass. The tractor was hurt, but we decided to run it anyways on just five motors the second session well because… it’s Bowling Green! I wasn’t expecting to finish well of course but it was still a fun ride. In conclusion for Bowling Green, the show was an awesome one but we didn’t put on an awesome show.
Next was Jeff City in the sweet state of Missouri! We came into this one hoping to get back on track. I ran both tractors that weekend. The Legacy had a decent run finishing with a third and Young Blood not so much, finishing with a 5th and a messed up turbo. Congrats to Burge getting the win. Thank God Stan Blagrave is okay after the ride he took. It’s disappointing to see their season end the way it did. The next day we noticed the Legacy had a crack in the block and we decided not to run it. I finished 2nd with Young Blood and laid down a great pass. Congrats again to Burge for finishing with his second win for the weekend. We were more than pleased leaving Jeff with a second.
It’s the last pull of the season in Sandwich Illinois and we wanted to finish it off right. We fixed up the Legacy with a whole new motor setup going into the weekend. We didn’t know what to expect and sadly I had head gasket blow coming off the line. We didn’t let that get us down though. I came back with Young Blood, which my dad now calls “Ol’ Reliable”, and drove it out of the hole way more than I ever have. I had to do this because the track was good overall, but not at the starting line. It felt smooth and sweet as I spun it in with the win. I came back for the second session wanting to get another one. Last puller of the class and wanted to be able to use that phrase “save the best for last.” I came off the line just like I did earlier but this time It wasn’t as smooth, and when it hooked, it hooked hard. The front end lifted high and it started to bounce a little bit. With it bouncing like it did, it still kept it’s speed and I spun it in 4 inches short of first. I didn’t get the double win but I’m happy with the way I finished. Congrats to the Diggin’ Hard team for gettin the win that night.
It was no doubt a great season and we finished it off strong. I’m happy we got some time off to spend with family while still being able to go to some pulls. We had our ups and downs year, but it happens. We are getting things back to running strong with Young Blood, while getting close with the Legacy. I’m thankful my dad sat me on the seat my first year I was eligible to drive. I guess he thought I was ready with how long I’ve been around the sport. To top it off, I had a blast this year and I’m happy to have some experience driving. I’m ready to see what next season has in store and Im dying to chase after my first championship.
12,000 Horsepower Massage Chair
It’s Chapel Hill time and I’ve been ready ever since Tomah! I was feelin’ pretty good coming out of Tomah with a win and I was looking to get another one. Friday night arrived and sadly, we never could get the tractors out of the trailer due to the continuous rain which eventually cancelled the pull. But thanks to the great people from Chapel Hill, they allowed us to pull Sunday. I was no longer disappointed as much from the cancellation when I heard these news. When Saturday came, I was ready…but didn’t know quite what I was in for yet. Before I left the farm, I asked my dad what he thought about me driving the Unlimited at Chapel Hill. I was kinda surprised when he told me he would think about it. He let me warm up it up for the first time after being put back together. After everything seemed ready to rock and roll for Chapel, my dad had me practice backing up to the sled. I guess I did alright since I finally convinced him at the pull to let me drive! We got uncle Larry Richwine’s green flag to let me drive and also the green flag to not let my mom know I was doing it. But I guess she figured it out when she caught me adjusting my straps for it. I didn’t know exactly what to expect, but I was ready to experience a totally different level of competition.
It was pullin’ time and the intensity was increasing in the atomsphere. We got the diesels weighed and in the pits ready for the second class of the day. We were in the middle of the pack with only one tractor between my dad and I. I didn’t get to warm up the tractor well enough before it was time for me to drive out onto the track and I had a difficult time keeping it alive since it was cold. This only put more pressure on me but when I finally tightened the chain for the first time in Chapel Hill, my dad told me to take a deep breath. I tried coming out a little harder than Tomah since the track was pretty good that night. The tractor was a little heavy on the nose but it was an overall smooth run with enough speed to get me a little past 320 feet. I ran back as quick as I could to watch my dad run and he sure showed me how to really blow out it out the other end of the track. He put down a gorgeous pass and shut it down nearly 10 feet ahead of me. We were both in the pull off along with Blagrave’s Red Horse, Burge’s Lock N’ Load, and Esdon Lehn’s Red Line Fever. I made a rookie mistake in the pull off by not getting strapped in and ready quick enough. I had to rush getting buckled up and realized I forgot to put my ear plugs in, but it was too late now. As I brought the RPM’s up on the line, the sound was different to my ears and sounded louder than what I was used to. I came out too soft, thinking that the engine was screamin’ before I left the line, and backed out of it before I got too far. I backed up to the starting line again and I knew I had to come out harder or I was done. I brought the RPM’s up again and I started to let out on the clutch a little early like last time and the smoke was turning white from the water kicking on. When this started to happen, I pushed the clutch in a little bit, let the smoke clear, and let it roar off the starting line. I spun out at 310 right behind Blagraves at 314. It was a little light on the nose from taking weight off the front for the pull off. I ran back just in time to watch my dad spin out at 288. His pass wasn’t near as pretty as the first. His nose was light as well and wasn’t the smoothest ride he’s had. Right after, Esdon spun it in at 305. Blagraves walked out with the win and I finished with a second for the first time pulling at Chapel Hill. That was definitely okay with me. Esdon got third with my dad finishing fourth right behind him and Burge with a fifth. It was time for me to switch gears and focus on something that I’ve never done and possibly no other 16 year old has done.
The best of the best were in the unlimited class ahead of me. I’m not gonna say I wasn’t focused on trying to win, but I was mainly just focused on getting to the other end of the track with everything the way it was when I left the starting line, all while staying in bounds. I think those were good enough goals for the first time out. I was nervous for the diesel as usual but nothing had really changed yet for the unlimited. It hadn’t really hit me yet. I watched some videos earlier that day like I did to prepare for the diesel for the first time, but I had less time to do it. I was second hook of the class right behind Adam Bauer. This time I made sure I was strapped in with plenty of time left to mentally prepare. I stayed poised as I started to feel those butterflies kick in after buckling that last strap. I felt the almost the same way as when I was about to drive the diesel for the first time. Even though I was pretty nervous, I know my mom had won the battle for who was more nervous. This was a totally different ride I was about to drive and I didn’t know quite what to expect, but I knew what I had to do. John pointed at me, I nodded my head, and fired up motor number one. All 6 Chevys were fired up and I pulled out onto the track for the first time on the Unlimited Modified. As quickly as I could, I backed up to the sled and tightened the chain. My dad quickly told me to be ready to press the brake if I need to and told me to take a deep breath. I didn’t have enough time to think after tightening my straps there at the starting line. With no thoughts in my head besides that there is a guy with a green flag in front of me, in a smooth motion I bent the throttle over. I never did have time to think, then I saw the red flag go in the air and I backed out of it past 330 feet. The pass was straight and never did have to touch the brake. It felt like a 12,000 hp massage chair the whole way down the track. I thought the diesels were fast, but this was way faster. I thought that I felt plenty of power just from watching, but driving was nothing like it. I can’t use words to describe that first ride, but I’d definitely recommend putting that on your bucket list. I felt like I absorbed all the energy and power from the motors and was hyped for the pull off. Both of Bauers tractors had made it into the pull off, along with Archers and L.D. Nation. Adam had just put down a 327 foot with Cross Threaded and now I was next. I pulled out onto the track, but this time I knew what to expect when I gave the beast full throttle. I did the same thing coming out of the hole, but when 250 feet came a fuel line broke loose from the front left motor. I still kept into the throttle until that motor leaned out and I started to lose power, stopping me at 321 feet. It was a decent pass, and I didn’t have to touch the brake just like the first. I started to bite my nails as Dave Archer backed up to the sled. I was in it for the 2nd place Snap-On ratchet and the O’Reillys gift card. Archer had a strong run to get him to 307. A sigh of relief came to me, but there was one left. Sadly, L.D. couldn’t come back to the pull off due to breakage, so that left Adam Bauer’s Double Nutted tractor as the last one in the class. He put down a strong run as well but didn’t quite get hooked up like the first time. He spun it in at 302 and finished 4th behind Archer. I came out with a second behind Adam’s Cross Threaded. I was just as excited, if not more excited than when I won Tomah! I’m so happy that I came out with second for the first time driving and I don’t plan on it being my last.
It was hard for me to stay awake Sunday morning since the night before I couldn’t sleep from all the excitement that was still in me. I helped Dad check things over on both tractors and everything seemed ready to go. We went through the usual routine and were in the pits ready to start the class. This time my dad and I were back to back in the line up. There we’re fewer pullers in the class since some had to get home for Monday plans. We were thankful that we could stay and run both tractors. It was a floating finish for the whole day. I was ready and on the seat with plenty of time before it was my turn to hook. I made sure I had my ear plugs in and that the tractor was warmed up enough so the same mistakes as the day before didn’t happen. My take off was more like Tomah’s take off and I had an overall smooth ride. The front end was a little heavy like the previous day and I got on to the brakes a bit to keep me from drifting over. My distance was 305 and was sitting in the lead. I ran to the track as quick as I could to see my dad pull. Altogether I’m pretty sure I did I lot of running during the weekend. I made it just as he was leaving the line. His front end lifted and carried pretty well, but didn’t have the ground speed he had the day before. The bad news is, it was enough ground speed to beat me by 3 feet. I’m happy he doesn’t take it easy on me though. We sat in first and second for the whole class until Esdon and Brandon Hunt came through at the end. Brandon had an awesome pass that put him at 322 and Esdon spun in right behind him at 317. Dad finished 3rd and I finished 4th, and we were both pleased with the results for the weekend.
I was hoping to get to run the Unlimited again but due to breakage it was sent home. We left as quick as we could to get to the hotel in St. Louis because we had to get up at 4:00 AM to leave for vacation. Overall, it was a great weekend spent with the family and friends in Chapel Hill. I didn’t get the chair but I had it in my sights. The focus is on the Bowling Green Ring now, and I think they might have a new Unlimited Modified driver to look forward to also.Photo Credit- Tracy Water Motorsports Photography-Nitrozilla.com Recap from Wisconsin/ (Miles Krieger- MB300)
It was a long week of basketball before Tomah finally came. I finished my last basketball game on Friday and jumped right on the plane when I was done. I was still soaked in sweat and probably stained the seat with my smell. Shout out to Bernard and Deb for having to smell me the whole way. I was so anxious to get down there and before I knew it, I was on the ground again in Wisconsin. This time I had more excitement rather than nervousness. My nervousness had gone down a little bit but it was still there for sure. I felt better that I got my first run out of the way the previous weekend. I got there just in time to take the tractors across the scales and into the pits. We were first class and I was near to last hook. I observed the track with Dad and grandpa until my dad had to pull Young Blood. We weren’t real pleased with the track, there was nothing in the hole and a lot of people were blowing their tires off. We also thought it was a little dry and inconsistent. Young Blood went around 304 and was a little heavy on the nose. When it was my turn to hook with the Legacy, it was a whole different view from the seat. I was looking at 5 times as many fans. That didn’t help take the pressure down. I took off just like I knew how to and it was just as much fun as I remembered. I was sucked over near the left sideline and spun out at around 297. There was no traction on the far left unlike we had hoped for and wasn’t real pleased with the run. Steve Burge had the winning run and laid down a nice pass. I finished 9th Friday night and my dad finished 5th.
When Sunday came I was ready. I wanted to have a better pass than Friday night and was hoping to see a better track. I was last hook of the class until they re-weighted the sled after the first two passes. My dad couldn’t pull that day due to some pump trouble and internal breakage. The time came for me to pull. The leader was sitting at 299 feet with a couple others within a few feet behind him. The track was about the same as yesterday so we knew we had the get the nose up. We put it in the center of the track and Dad just told me to run it straight. I tried slipping it out of the hole a little more than yesterday and spun out near the same spot. I couldn’t tell what my distance was until I drove to the end of the track to watch my replay on the big screen. I thought it was around 296 until the distance showed up. 300 and change! I was pumped and was greeted with fist bumps. I was so excited and so was the rest of the crew but we had John Raymond and the 2013 GN Champs, the Blagraves, left to dodge. I was on the edge of my seat when I saw Red Horse spin out close to where I was, and felt relieved when I was announced still in the lead. One more to dodge and I got my first Grand National win. I almost wanted to close my eyes for this one. John’s pass was looking tough until he hit a rough patch and started bouncing a bit. I still couldn’t quite tell how far he went until it was made sure by the announcer that I had won. I was full of excitement and couldn’t use words to describe it. I was still shaking from the adrenaline flowing through me. Then my dad told me, “The worst part about winning, is having to give a speech.” I suddenly became nervous again. I have heard my dad give them many times but I felt like I couldn’t remember a single one. I survived the attempted speech as I accepted my first Grand National Award. Dad and Grandpa told me how proud they were of me and told me I drove it perfectly. I was on my way home again but now with my first Grand National win under my belt. I never expected to get it this soon for I was just excited to get to pull in Tomah. I’m ready too see what else this season has in store for me and the team. I’m able to cross out Tomah on my list of goals but there are many more to accomplish with my next one being a set of chairs from the pull of the south.