The 'X Factor' ... Car Show, Tractor and Truck Pull

Thursday, April 30, 2009
Photos by Steven Looney

Photos and story by Steven Looney A lot of hard work, by a lot of people, has transformed the old football field in Thayer into Mo-Ark Park. This was the site of this weekend's tractor pull, truck pull and car show. Hot Rods, street rods, rat rods, classic cars, street machines, muscle cars, custom cars and trucks were all on display, along with Mammoth Spring High School physics' class project built, solar car. Baby moon hub caps, '50s, and '60s music blasting from loud speakers, strollers, flip flops, tank tops and the smell of horsepower made for an enjoyable time for all. The money raised by the car show was donated to St. Judes. Tractors From the hay field to the flat track, all kinds of tractors with brand names most would recognize, to some you might have to Google (Canadian Cockshutt). One puller with a tractor, which showed the caricature of its years, was sporting a big green bean can, to cover the air breather. No matter, these boys came to pull and have a good time. There are speed limitations for these heavy-duty pullers, but the amount of weight put on the X Factor Mini sled made the difference in the different classes. Once the sled weight moved closer to the tractor, which continues to add to the drag, the tractor's front wheel has a tendency to leave the ground and the engine starts to bog down. That is when the red flag goes up to stop. X Factor sled The brightly painted red mini and a bright monster green are custom-built pulling sleds, with a cab in the back, hydraulics to lift the wheels up and down for ease of movement and hydraulics to push the weight forward. The X Factor sled is booked for over 100 events across the country including the Missouri State Fair. This high-tech machine and crew, uses laser technology to measure from start to stop distance, down to an inch, then instantly sends that information to the official score keeper. The mini sled is used for the sport and hot rod class, then is stepped up to the big green X Factor which carries much more weight. Trucks The classes differ by the size of the truck and the amount of weight the vehicle carries, plus the amount of weight pulled. From the sport, to hot rod, to street, to four wheel drive, to modified to super modified, it's all about who can pull the sled the longest distance carrying the same amount of weight. One "big" attraction was the wild, wild ride of what appeared to be a frame about the size of a riding lawn mower, with a V8 engine mounted on it. Mounted in back are a small steering wheel, peddles and a seat. The driver straddles the transmission, hooks up to the sled, points the front wheels down the track, mashes the gas and holds on, as the straight pipe exhaust blasts out spent high-octane fuel and noise. The rear wheels churn and spin with the weight of the sled. Sometimes, because there is not much weight in the front, the front wheels hardly ever touch the ground, so you better have your machine lined up pretty straight. When you move on up to different classes you can bet the horsepower moves up as does the expense. I asked one local puller, a person sometimes accused of expanding the truth, how much would a person have tied up in one of these trucks? He said, "It all depends on how good of a paint job they have!" Lonnie Mills, one of the local pullers, and one of the local event coordinators said, "Trucks are anywhere from 400 to 900 horsepower." When the evening got to the big boys in the Super Modified class, they had some good paint jobs. The winning pull in that class was over 300 feet, and as stadium announcer Mike Crace said, "Half way to Mammoth Spring." The sound of a high powered engine running on super high test plus fuel, the straight pipe exhaust blasting at least five miles away, the swirl of gravel and dust, and the cheers of over 1,500 fans encouraging the pullers, made for some good family fun on an early spring night.