Keep Track of the Unique Tracks

Keep Track of the Unique Tracks

Keeping Track of Unique Tracks

The allure of sports is a simple concept. Fans, of all backgrounds, converge in a single location to watch a display of ability at its highest and most intriguing level. I believe this simple concept rings true regardless of the genre of sport; be it traditional athletic sports that display the power of man, domesticated sports that display the power of animals, or motor sports that display the power of machines. Crowds will gather at the football stadiums, or the horse track, or the pulling track to watch the paramount display of performance. They want to see the best. They want to cheer for their heroes, boo their opponents, drink a cold beverage, eat a handheld meal, and make memories with those they care about. 

And yet, I can’t help but feel that competition or performance isn’t the only factor that draws fans to an event. If we examine various examples, we notice a common trend. It isn’t just the performers on the field or track. Sometimes it is the field or the track that draws people in. Certain venues have stood iconic overtime and have an atmosphere all to themselves that catches the attention of spectators. They are unique or historic. The fans want to go to the competition, because of the place it occurs. Think about it. What makes Lambeu Field, Fenway Park, Bristol Motor Speedway, or Churchill Downs so attractive? It isn’t the Packers, Sox, Team Penske, or the Ponies. It is the place itself! They are unique. 

Tractor pulling is absolutely no different. Some of the best pulls I have ever attended stem from the location themselves. There are certain areas that offer up an atmosphere, a location, or a quirk that makes the track the destination in and of itself. Today I will examine what I feel are the most unique and enjoyable tracks in the sport of truck and tractor pulling. 

Bowling Green, Ohio. The National Tractor Pulling Championships. I honestly don’t need to say another word. This is our Daytona. This is our University of Michigan Stadium “The Big House.” Just the sheer size and scale of this venue is energizing. With estimates of a seating capacity as high as 60,000 it truly feels like you are at a bowl style college football stadium. To be among so many passionate pulling fans makes this track a pilgrimage that every fan should strive to attend at least once. And heck, I haven’t even mentioned the pits and party scene. 

Chapel Hill, Tennessee and Fort Recovery, Ohio. I am going to group these two together for a similarity that seems to parallel each of them. Both of these venues present themselves in such a way that time seems to have stopped or frozen. Attending a pull at either of them makes someone feel like they aren’t in the mid 2020’s, but somewhere closer to 1993. They do this in very different ways. Chapel Hill is a single trick with nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. If it was a Nascar track, it would be Bristol. There are 15,000 fans seated as close to each other and the track as possible. The hard packed clay pulling surface is anointed with banners that run atop the light poles. Beautiful manicured grass lines all sides. The action is constant and lightning fast. And yet, somehow manages to stop unlimited modifieds consistently. The Lions Club gives you a cafeteria style concession stand that is all things southern and throwback. I highly recommend a moonpie and sunflower seeds as you watch the top 15 in 5 classes speed down the clay. For Recovery is also a step back in time, but for many ways in the opposite regard. The “North-side Hill” allows lawnchair seating and is almost a famous section for rowdiness in and of itself. You have to cross a creek to get there and like Chapel Hill, it’s cafeteria style concessions, where you simply tell the guy how many Budweisers you want in your sack, and you are set for the night. It feels like pulling in 1987. The track is a power track and tricky as all get out. 

Wisner, Nebraska. Thunder by the River. This is a combination of each of the three previously mentioned venues. It’s old school. It’s big. It’s a party crowd. It also has one of the most iconic and simply beautiful and unique backdrops in all of pulling. The staging area is an enticing mix between a city park and a forest. Pullers will line up in a chaos-is-order fashion among a massive sycamore grove. The track sits in a true bowl, with berm style lawn chair and bleacher seating on either side. Oh, did I also mention the Thunder Dome entertainment pavilion and skyboxes that allow fans to watch from a literal party OR true third tier upper deck seating? Combine that with a track that feels half a mile long, and Outlaws affinity for big distances and you have an absolute party. 

Before I crown my most unique venue of all, I do want to take a moment to nod to some awesome pulls. Keep in mind this article was the culmination of unique venues, not just great pulls. That being said, naturally, Louisville, Tomah, Hillsboro, Goshen, Henry, and Rock Valley all offer phenomenal experiences. But today is about quirks, not just quality. 

The most unique venue in truck and tractor pulling, and possibly all of motorsports: Brandenburg, Kentucky. If you like oddities, singularities, different approaches, or uniqueness- you need to attend the Meade County Fair and watch this pull. Where to even start? It appears that this track was born as a rodeo grounds. Much smaller than a pulling layout. So they ran a single track diagonally. Even by making this accommodation, in its earliest iteration that still only allowed for a track that was maybe 260 feet long. That’s right, we have indoor pulling outdoors. Well, why not simply open the gate and lengthen the track, you might ask? The whole venue sits in a valley that is surrounded by fairly steep hills on all sides. If you tried to pull further, you would quite literally go uphill. Eventually, this is precisely what they did. Now, they can claim the surface is as level as possible, but to the untrained eye, most would argue the final 40 feet, definitely run uphill. Next is the tunnel and footbridge. Instead of driving tractors over the berm, they elected to build a footbridge and stage the tractors under it. You can stand on the bridge and watch vehicles brought in one at a time beneath your feet. The sled backs up to a concrete wall. The track is extremely crowned making little to no lines and perfect driving skill necessary. There is lawn chair seating that looks straight down the track on both sides. There is nothing that is straight, flat, or traditional about this track. Oh, and it’s a grand national pull with some of the best competition right in the middle of the season when points are at a premium. The pullers come to play. Did I also mention the sweet tea is delicious. 

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of reasons to attend a pull. The venue and track itself can oftentimes be right on the top of the list. There are awesome locations and seating or staging configurations all over the little towns in this great sport. I hope to one day see them all. 

Green Flags and Tight Chains

Pullin’ is fun.

You may also like View all