The sun was on fire over the corn fields in the west, the railroad tracks to the east were silent, excited mummers of the crowd could be heard in the north, and the south held antsy drivers awaiting the call to climb in their tractors for a 8 second ride vying for first place. This was my first tractor pull. I wasn't sure what it was all about. I sat in the bleachers with my cousins and 96 year old uncle. Three thousand people surrounded us. The excitement of the crowd had my palms sweaty.
Hooters girls from far away Council Bluffs roamed the grounds in a John Deere mule. They were selling Bud Lights and Busch Lights by the case load. Worn green bills protruded from their low cut tee shirts. They were making a fortune! I made a mental note for next year. I will snip off my favorite blue jeans into short shorts, slip on a size too small push up bra, cover it with a revealing low-cut shirt, and bottle my toilet water. Watch out Hooters Girls, you got some competition coming.
I anxiously awaited the first two tractors. I could see it in my head. Two tractors back to back with a chain connecting them. The gun would sound. The tractors would step on the gas to see who would pull the other over the line first. A tractor tug-of-war.
The beginning of the track held a long orange machine. A man sat high in it. I asked my cousin if we could sit there too for a better view. I was informed that was the Ironman Sled. The tractors back up to it, get hooked in, and pull it. The weights get heavier as they go along.
Oh! No he-man tug-of-war. Bummer. It's an interesting idea though. Anyone interested?
The first tractor roared to life and puttered out to the sled. The first lesson a tractor pull driver has to learn is backing up to the sled. I could see some of these drivers had not attended that course. The tractors all have manly names: "Fear the Fawn," "Naughty Intentions," "Rugrat Rampage."
Once hooked up the driver reeves up the RPM's, (I understand why concerned parents shove ear plugs in young ears.) and throws it into drive. (I'm also told these are automatics. I can drive one!) Black smoke billows out the smoke stack turning the sunset to night. The tractor pops a wheelie and continues pulling the sled while on the back two monstrous tires. Eight seconds later the tractor is on all fours 200-300 feet down the track. Finished.
Then out speeds two green tractors each pulling a cart. One cart waters the track. While the other is piled with sod. Are they expecting sowing for after the tractor pull?
My cousin leans over and announces, "Hey, you know some of these tractors cost up to $300,000." Wow! That's three and a half houses around here. "And most have an annual budget of $500,000." Double Wow! That's three and a half houses, a massive American made truck, a horse, and gallon of milk.
The night skies were starting to brighten up. Lightening was flashing all around us. But, my uncle wanted to see the last tractor pull. It was an Allis Chalmers. His favorite. This one had another manly name "Allis in Wonderland." The announcer blasted the name of the driver. I knew this guy! He was my first nine year old kiss!
He had been to the Tractor Pull Backing up Class and hooked up without all the hoopla of pulling forward, rebacking, men waving arms like a scarecrow. But when it was time to drag Ironman down the track, there was an explosion of exhaust and a dead tractor. However, one more try and he was chugging down the track like he was on four wheels instead of two. He tugged Ironman to the top of his class.
It was time to run (ok the 96 year old was on his scooter) to the truck before the skies opened up. As I drove home in the blinding rain, I reflected on the evening. There were family, friends, and good old fashion fun. The tractor pull was a benefit for the local volunteer fire department. It was for a good cause. Where do you find these good times but rural Iowa? And there were the Hooters girls. I'm going to start bottling my toilet water tomorrow so I will have a good supply for next year.