The Kingsdale (Pa.) Fire Department carnival grounds will be the site of lots of excitement and noise next Sunday.
The top gunslingersin tractor, two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive pulling are expected to take part in the North-South Shootout Tractor Pull at the fire grounds on Route 194, about six miles north of Taneytown.
One of the top area pullers, Todd Weant of Taneytown, is expectedto participate. He has also competed nationally, including a year traveling around the East Coast on the Pro-National Tour. He will be a favorite in the super stock class next Sunday at Kingsdale.
Weant has always enjoyed working with tractors on his family's dairy farm, and it was only natural for him to become interested in pulling. He started competing in 1983 with the same farm tractor that worked the fields. Obviously, there were risks -- especially if the tractor was damaged and couldn't be used to harvest crops.
Weant enjoyed the sport so much, he purchased a competition tractor the following year, and he's been pulling ever since. Weant said he selected the super stock class because it retains some of the looks of farm tractors from which they evolved. In actuality, however, these tractors are wolves in sheep's clothing.
Super stock tractors like Weant's may appear inconspicuous with factory sheet metal, but they are among the most sophisticated of any of the pulling machines.
When Weant's John Deere tractor comes off the starting line, a thick column of black smoke jets skyward, letting everyone know there's something special under the hood -- a mass of turbocharging and fuel lines that can only be described as a mechanic's nightmare.
Since the super stock tractors are required to maintain stock blocks, Weant has strapped on three turbochargers to push air through the in-line six-cylinder, 466-cubic-inch engine. The more air you put in, the more fuel you can burn, creating more horsepower.
Weant's engine produced 150 horsepower when it left the factory. When he comes off the starting line, his turbocharged motor will be producing well over 1,500 horsepower.
"Some tractors have as many as four turbochargers," explained Weant. "I prefer three, though. You may get more horsepower with four, but the reliability is not there. The increased horsepower puts more strain on theengine components."
That still doesn't mean you won't have trouble if you only have three turbos. A few weeks ago, Weant was pulling and had the sled 228 feet down the track when the motor let go.
"I did a real good number on the motor," he said. "I broke a crankshaft and a connecting rod, but I don't think it hurt the block."
Weant attributed the failure to engine fatigue.
Since turning to super stock eight years ago, Weant has worked closely with Maurice Gladhill of Gladhill Tractor and Mart in Frederick. Gladhill has built severalengines for pullers.
Last year, Weant replaced his John Deere 4010 tractor with a Deere 4455. The 4010 was a consistent tractor with two turbochargers that kept Weant in the top five in points every year.
He finished first in Maryland in 1984, first in Pennsylvania in 1986 and first in Virginia in 1987. On the Pro-National Tour last year, he finished seventh.
The object of tractor-pulling is to see who can pull a weighted sled the longest down a 300-foot course. As thesled is pulled, a weight shifts to the front of the sled, effectively making it heavier as it slides down the course.
There's plenty of power at a pull, but driver skill usually is the difference betweenwinning and losing.
Driving skill is critical, especially coming off the starting line. The driver must bring the revolutions-per-minute up on the engine to build the proper manifold boost so the turbos can do their job. When everything is right, the driver side steps theclutch and the power is unleashed with a big roar.
Knowing the track and equipment is just as important. Each track has a personality of its own, and pullers "read" tracks much like golfers read putting greens.
The ideal track for most pullers is firm underneath, with a couple inches of soft clay on top so the tires get a good bite without going too deep.
Weant said he enjoys the level of competition and the people who are involved in the sport. He is also quick to attribute most of his success to his parents, Carl and Grace, who help him in many ways. Junior Koons of Harney is crew chief and travels with Weant to every event.
In addition to Gladhill Tractors, Weant issponsored by Crystal Cadillac/GMC of Gettysburg, Pa. Harry Pappas, owner of Crystal Cadillac, is a co-sponsor of Sunday's pull at Kingsdale.
Weant, a 27-year-old dairy farmer, said he is excited about competing in front of his hometown fans next Sunday. Don't be surprisedif the big green monster named "Easy Duz It" comes in first.