Saturday, April 28, 2012

Mother Nature delays debut!

Last night's exciting debut of the two modified tractors we revealed on Miles Beyond 300 was delayed by rains that swept in during the two wheel drive class.  Four competitors of the sixteen entries made full pulls and were slated to come back to settle the score when in the middle of it all came a downpour.  The four trucks were last years point's runner-up Brad Moss Ridin Dirty, the point's champion Jeremy Nelson Speedco Midnight Gambler, Jared Nelson Midnight Revenger and John Mumma After Midnight.  These four trucks split top honors as the focus will now move to Saturday Nights competition at the Saluda Young Farmers Spring Pull!

Top Ten
1 Brad Moss
1 Jeremy Nelson
1 Jared Nelson
1 John Mumma
5th Tony Tatum
6th Jordan Nelson
7th Lisa Tatum Hardin
8th Chris Smith
9th Mark Austin
10th Wayne Sullivan

Friday, April 27, 2012

Long time coming!

Ask any of their friends in the sport of pulling and you will hear the same story; the story of the Long Brother's discussing the topic of building a modified tractor for several years.  However, it wasn't until the last couple of years that the discussion became serious.  Very few people are as observant to the happenings of the modified class as Keith and Ricky have been over the last few years. Their attention became more focused when their close friend and competitor, Stan Shelton, decided to make the jump and build a mod to run with the Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League. 

The Long Brother's have been involved in the sport for over 30 years as their dad, Billy Long, competed out of Glasgow with a 540 International Super Stock tractor on alcohol.  Shortly after Billy debuted his 540, Keith debuted an International 460 which he ran for many years on the circuit.  Competing in the Super Stock class may have been Keith's introduction to tough competition, but his passion quickly turned to Two Wheel Drive Trucks.  In the late 1980's, Keith debuted a Chevy S-10 known as Long Gone.  The S-10 was campaigned from the late 1980's to the mid 1990's when Keith sold the truck and got a 23 T known as the Varmit.  In 1993, Ricky Long made one of the best pulling choices he could make when he purchased his first two wheel drive truck from Billy Johns.  Johns, a native Kentuckian, had made a name for himself on the national and state circuits with his hot pink Willy's known as Willy Makit.  The name came with the truck, and from the early 90's until February 2012, Ricky was the pilot of one of the most recognized trucks in the sport, Willy Makit.  In the late 90's, the Long's really began to hit their stride and became known as two tremendous threats at every event they rolled into, but the 90's were only an introduction of things to come.  In 2000, Keith built a new Chevy S-10 known as the Bullseye, and he seemed to predict the future as that truck became one of the most revered trucks in the class.  From 2007 to 2010, Ricky and Keith claimed three of the four Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League Champions Tour Titles.  In 2010, they added to their program with a sweet running Chevy S-10 known as Ridin Dirty.  Dirty, as the Long Brother's refer to it, has been one of the most consistent trucks in the class since its debut.

In 2012, Ricky and Keith Long said good bye to an old friend and welcomed in a new.  Willy Makit was sold to the Barbee family of Springfield, Tennessee to make room for a brand new toy the MavTV sponsored Modified.  The chassis was built over the winter by Modern Machine in Van Buren, Indiana and will house four Miner Brothers racing Hemi's, which the Long's have become known for over the years.  The excitement is building for the Long Brother's as they near the debut of their newest pulling machine tomorrow evening in Saluda, South Carolina.  If history has anything to do with it, the Long's can find strength in the fact that their friend Stan Shelton won the points championship debuting a new tractor last year with the Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League, and they know they have found the winning combination before.

Throughout this process Ricky and Keith have worked to reaffirm one another that they have made the right choice in choosing to run a modified, but if you ask their father, chances are he would tell you that they are crazy!

Big shoes to fill for the "Kentuckian"

There is truly no doubt that one of the most recognized names in the sport of truck and tractor pulling is Sullivan, but what may even surpass their last name is their pulling vehicle's name, the Kentuckian.  What began as a single engine modified with Rodeck power in the early seventies, grew to a three Rodeck combination in the nineties.  When the final pass was made on the old Kentuckian, a new Super Modified Two Wheel Drive Truck was built that featured the all too familiar name.  Understand that the driving force for the Sullivan Team and secret to success was their tight knit family.  As the family continued to grow so too did the roster of capable drivers who were just waiting for a chance to jump into the seat of one the nationally renowned pulling machines they brought from Warsaw, Kentucky.  Whether it was the single engine Papa Smurf or the Chevy S-10 aptly named the  Tuff Cookie fans from around the country began to take notice of the entire family from the Bluegrass state.

The father of this pulling family was Hansel who  got the ball rolling many decades ago and if he were here today, it is a certainty that he would be grinning from ear to ear with all that his namesakes have achieved.  What began with a Ford tractor has grown exponentially over time.  In the seventies the team relied heavily on who I refer to as Daddy, Wayne Sullivan,  for the driving duties. In the eighties Wayne’s late brother Eddie jumped into the fun with his Underdog four wheel drive and Underpup two wheeler.  Quickly on the heels of their Uncle Eddie were Wayne’s oldest boys Donnie and Danny.   Donnie has piloted a large variety of vehicles from a single engine mod, a dual turbine and of course a barrage of Two Wheelers.  Danny has been very active in the two wheel drive class since the late eighties having piloted the  Young Gun, Tuff Cookie. and Thumper all before the two most recently family driven Rentawreck and Hansel Sullivan Memorial Chevy.  In the mid nineties, Donnie and Danny introduced their little brother to the saddle of a blown two wheel drive in the form of the Kentuckian Chevy S-10.   Paul darn near took the ring home with him from Bowling Green, Ohio in the very early stages of his driving career and from time to time finds himself in the saddle of his dad’s Big Ed Red.  Waiting in the wings of this pulling dynasty is the fourth generation of drivers, Donnie’s son, Brandt.  Brandt not only has spent a life time following his grandfather, uncles and father all over the country but he has also developed his own personality within the sport.  It is certain that it is in his blood as he awaits his shot to bend the throttle over on one of his families’ vehicles very soon.  

The name the Kentuckian has not been used by the Sullivan family for many years but in 2012, the name has been revived with a new Modified tractor.  The tractor was constructed to compete in the Modified classes with the Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League Champions Tour and the NTPA Grand National Light Unlimited class.  Having been some of the forefathers of the modified class it is only right for them to find their way back to the saddle of a multi engine tractor.  This weekend as the Champions Tour for the Lucas Oil series kicks off in Saluda, South Carolina, Wayne Sullivan will strap in for the maiden voyage of the new and improved Kentuckian.

Tractor Specs 
The chassis was formerly owned and run by Ken Veney Funny Farmall
The sheet metal was done by Ted and Tony Dibble at Binder Lite and is an exact replica of the old Kentuckian, which featured a Massey Harris shroud. 
Power will be found in the form of the 3 Hemi's mounted right in front of the driver.  The Sullivan's run a variation of a Sassy Racing Engine.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Mod Reflection

This reflection will be dedicated to the powerhouse Modified Tractors and the brain children behind these awesome machines.  Regardless of sanctioning body, affiliation with the sport or the level of experience one has in pulling, one commonality is true and that is the multi engine tractors are unreal!  As a child, I remember watching the likes of Tim Engler, Paul Norman, John Hileman, Fast Fred Freeman and the legendary Art Arfons compete against one another for bragging rights and a sizeable cash prize. 
Today this class truly seems to be one of the more popular classes in terms of growth with both the NTPA and Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League showcasing large volumes of competitors registered to compete for the annual points championship.

E-3 Sparkplug Modified's

We will kick things off in New London, North Carolina where the 2011 Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League Champion resides and has been finely tuned for a title defense.  I won’t call 2011 a rookie season for Stan as he had a few years worth of experience in the class first with a three engine mod and then secondly with a four engine setup on his old chassis.  Stan learned a lot in the first few years of his participation in the class and relayed all of that to his new Engler Chassis that he used to win the title.  It is a certainty that Stan won’t be able to play the new guy card in 2012 as his Hemi powered Shel-Shocked is wearing a huge target on its chassis!

Aiming to hit the bull’s eye is none other than the 2009 and 2010 Champion Tour Champ, Bill Leischner of Weldon, Illinois.  Leischner welcomes support from Speedco Truck Lube and Tire and Firestone for the 2012 campaign and will lean on his four Sassy Hemi combination in pursuit of reclaiming his title.   Leischner worked hard in 2011 to upgrade his motor configuration and with a full season under his belt it is a certainty he will be tough as nails in the points chase.
In February, Joe Eder found  the winning combination on Saturday of the Farm Machinery Show to claim the Finals title.  Eder, who debuted his 75th edition last season, is a big threat for the title that Shelton and Leischner will both be looking for.  Traveling all the way from New York to reach the Champions Tour schedule may be a real daunting task for Eder, but if he can make it to the hooks, I see him in the hunt come Wheatland.

In Southern Illinois the Bunnage Brother’s reside and carry high hopes as they enter the 2012 season.  A disappointing start to 2011 that saw them miss the first event of the season in Saluda, South Carolina due to horrific flooding on their family farm has provided them with additional incentive to recover their form from 2010.  This may be the year that the boys from Golden Gate don’t settle for event wins but a title crown and painted helmet on the stage in Indianapolis.

One of the more overlooked competitors on the Champion’s Tour is Indiana’s own Scott Tedder and his Mr. Twister.  Tedder is always in the mix of the point’s race and I see 2012 being no different if he commits to the full schedule.  Tedder is listed on both the Pro Pulling League Champions Tour list as well as the NTPA Grand National Pre-Committ for the Modified and newly introduced Light Unlimited.  Regardless of where he goes, Tedder will make his presence known!

I additionally have my eye on Keith and Ricky Long of Glasgow, Kentucky.  The Long brothers have taken the step up to the Modified class after having spent decades behind the wheel of a Two Wheeler.  The Longs will keep their focus on the Two Wheel Drive class as well but have the new introduction of their modified that will occupy a large chunk of their time.  Only time will tell if these guys can run with the big threats for the title in 2012 but I firmly believe it is only a matter of time.

After a lot of reflection I have to say that this E-3 Sparkplug class may very well be the toughest on the circuit with Lucas.  I know my original reflection pointed directly at the Pro Stocks, but as I write this I am blown away with the depth of this class.

NTPA Grand National Mod
On the Grand National side of the docket the 2011 Champion is back on the list for a championship defense in 2012 and I believe he carries the title of the favorite heading into the season.  Bret Berg of Minnesota has been very successful with his Money Maker and if the National Farm Machinery Show Preliminary was any indication, it appears that all systems are a go!   Berg used a brilliant cross tracking approach to claim the win on Wednesday Night.

In Lapeer, Michigan there are two tough running tractors from the Jostock pulling stables. Bob  has been a staple with his Wild Child  for many years and should not be overlooked as a contender for the championship. The 2007 NTPA Modified Champion claimed a couple of wins on  the Grand National circuit last season and will only need a few more this year to assure the title goes home with him.  If it isn’t going home in the hands of Bob, it is certain he hopes his brother Terry and Jim Martell may fight to claim a title with the other team tractor.  Had it not been for breakage after his first pass, the Jostocks might be riding into the season with the title of the NFMS Champion but Terry and the Wild Won were unable to come back in a pull-off against Joe Eder and thus they finished second on Saturday night.

New to last year’s points race was Doug Lively and his hemi powered Bank Robber.  Lively from Iowa made a big splash in 2011 when he took top honors at the Wisconsin Dairyland Nationals in Tomah.  Later in the season he found himself winning again at the Fort in Ohio.  Lively is a veteran puller and after his first real experience with this tractor on the NTPA Grand National circuit it is clear he is a name to be considered for top billing.

Stonington, Illinois has not only become home to the Bollingers, but also to the Allison power plants they rely so heavily on.  Their two tractor team of the Money Pit  and Top Gun  are season favorites year in and year out and deserve to be considered in the discussion for the season ending awards.

I don't know who will win the championships with either pulling organization but fans of the Modified Tractor division should be stoked for cage match battle royal to the finish! 

Modified Power Rankings
The rankings for the Modified class were solely based on the two days worth of competition in Louisville. I have tried to follow the same points guideline for every class that I pre-ranked and with only one event to rank, there isn't much change.  The next Modified Power Ranking will reflect several events on the Champions Tour as well as the Grand National opener for the mods.  

1) Joe Eder 75th Edition
2) Bret Berg Money Maker 
3) Terry Jostock Wild Won
4) Bill Leischner Speedco Dirtslinger
5) Bob Jostock Wild Child
6) Wayne Purser Uncle Sam
7) Stan Shelton Shel-Shocked
8)The Bunnages Takes a Lickin
9) The Stewarts Down and Dirty
10) Scott Tedder Mr. Twister

Friday, April 20, 2012

Pre-Commit Two Wheel Drive

The Super Modified Two Wheel Drive Truck class on both the NTPA and Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League Series have some of the largest numbers of any of the national touring classes.  At any given point both the Grand National and Champions Tour events should have sixteen to twenty vehicles vying for the win.

On the NTPA Grand National circuit the Petro Family finished with a strangle hold of the top three positions in the points.  Lead by Randy "Kathy's Complaint" the Ohio natives will head to Hazel Green looking to jump start their season and advantage in the points standings.  With the previous three championships having been claimed by either Randy or Jessie, it is clear that the Petro's will be very tough to beat! 

In 2011, Doug Theobald introduced a brand new pulling truck,  his "Wicked" Chevy S-10.  The new truck took the Theobalds  on one heck of a ride as Doug won four of the seven NTPA Major events:  Tomah, Chapel Hill x2 , Enderle Pull-off.  Doug,  along with his wife Renee "Pretty Wicked" will look to build on a solid season last year as they hope to stake claim to their first NTPA Grand National title.

Another heavy hitter on the list is former Grand National points champion Chuck Knapp "Back Forty" of Iowa.  Knapp was just ten points away from finishing in the top three in the championship hunt in 2011.  I am not taking a real big risk when I say this but it is my firm belief that the championship will go home with one of these teams.  Whether it is Ohio, Indiana, or Iowa is something we will have to wait to see.

Optima Battery Super Modified Two Wheel Drive Trucks

The Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League was truly dominated by two trucks on the Champions Tour in 2011. I honestly cannot think of a more dominating performance than the season that Jeremy Nelson had with his "Midnight Gambler".  New for 2012, Nelson welcomes Speedco Truck Lube and Tire as his title sponsor of his newly chopped 1941 Dodge panel van.   Nelson and classmate Brad Moss "Ridin Dirty" claimed eleven of the thirteen Champions Tour events last season.  Moss is scheduled  to be competing in the Pro Stock class in 2012 and thus the driving chores of arguably the most consistent truck on the circuit over the last three seasons will fall back on Ricky Long of Glasgow, Kentucky.  With Ricky and his brother Keith scheduled to be competing in the Modified tractor class with their new toy, I am anxious to see how they manage running both of their two wheel drive trucks. 

Jordan Nelson was an event winner in Kilgore, Texas in 2011. The youngest Nelson brother has been a staple in the top 5 of the Champions Tour points and is just waiting for his break to claim top honors.  With one of the Illinois boys claiming the title last year, the hopes of the team to defend the championship are really high.

In my opinion Donald Nelson and Mark Austin were two of the biggest surprises of the entire 2011 Champions Tour circuit.  Nelson introduced the "Lil Whip" Chevy Colorado at the kickoff event in Saluda, South Carolina and later claimed a win in Hamburg, New York.  The "Lil Whip" finished in the top five of the season- ending points and proved that the "good ol boy" from Texas is a true threat for a title.  Austin of Ashmore, Illinois kicked off his 2011 season by narrowly missing the finals of the National Farm Machinery Show.  Having added a Sassy Racing Engine to his Dodge for 2011 it was evident that the new combination really clicked for "Gamblin After Dark". The Dodge was one of the most consistent trucks on the circuit and if Mark can occasionally steal a win he may find himself in the hunt come Wheatland. 

New to the Pro Pulling League Pre-Commit list for 2012 is the Writsel Family of Orient, Ohio.  With the incredible performance Jeff Writsel "At it Again" put together it would be incredible if the team was to chase the entire points series.    If they choose not to, there is no question that Champions Tour competitors will take notice of the events that the guys from Ohio roll into with the previously mentioned "At it Again" and Ryan's Ford Ranger "Lucky Stryke".

Below you will find my Power Rankings for the Two Wheel Drive class to kick off the season.  There were many opportunities to gather points during the indoor season that I considered as well as factoring in the Champions from the points race last year.  With just seven days remaining until the Champions Tour kicks off in Saluda, South Carolina, and six weeks before the NTPA Grand National hook in Hazel Green many folks will have an opportunity to move their way up in the rankings very shortly.   

Power Rankings 
1) Jeff Writsel At it Again
2) John Mumma After Midnight
3) Randy Petro Kathy's Complaint
4) Tony Tatum Parts City 
5) Doug Theobald Wicked 
6) Jeremy Nelson Speedco Midnight Gambler 
7) Jacob Fuqua Trax  
8) Bill Oberste Missouri Gambler 
9) Wayne Sullivan Big Ed Red 
10) Long Motorsports Ridin Dirty

Monday, April 16, 2012

Reflections on the Pre Commit Lists Pro Stock's

The NTPA and Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League have released their coveted lists of Pre-Commit competitors for the upcoming season of competition.  After a close look at both of them, I wanted to put a list of what jumped out at me together for the blog!  That initial reflection as lead to a series of posts that will go up highlighting the classes!

Let me first state that these two lists are a bit different, the NTPA posts their list of the 10 competitors that will be a part of their program, but other competitors may have purchased a Grand National license with intent to compete for points.  On the Pro Pulling League list, they limit their Champions Club which is for a set number of competitors, but they list all of the folks who registered for a Champions Tour membership.  With NTPA they pay 10 pullers show up money, while the Pro Pulling League pays sixteen competitors in the majority of their classes.  The show up money is an incentive that has really helped both organizations to retain members while increasing their following as the spots that receive the check for fuel are highly coveted.

For this blog, I will reflect on the Pro Stock Tractor Class!  

Luca's Oil Pro Pulling League
Premier Crop Insurance Class
At first glance, the P.P.L. Premier Crop Insurance Pro Stock class truly caught my eye as one of the toughest I have ever seen.  Let's start with last year's champion Stuart Maize and the "Billet Binder".  Maize's consistency was a big key to his winning the points last year over the Linder Brothers.  A big change for 2011 was the partnership between Maize and D&R Pulling.  D&R has added another tractor to the list in the form of Dennis Schnitker and the "Bite N Binder" Case MX series tractor.  That will put Maize, Dennis, Dennis' nephew Rodney's "Melt Down"  and Dennis Schaubert's "The Hunted" all together to collaborate and relay information toward helping the team fight to win!  There is safety in numbers and this group will have four attempts at claiming a title.

If last year proved anything in this category, it was that anybody could take the win on any given night on the Champions Tour in the Pro Stock class.  I see this year being no different as the list just continues to grow with heavy hitters.  I am excited to see the addition of Steve Boyd back on the list and look forward to seeing if he can find the winning formula he had in 2010.  We will see if having the additional tractors was the key ingredient to the winning puzzle. 

The "Youngbuck" team is back in full force for the 2012 campaign after missing a portion of the circuit in 2011.  After a runner-up finish in 2010, is this the year that the men from Schochoh, Kentucky take the title back to the farm?  When looking at my list of potential favorites for the title, I view the "Youngbuck" as one of the biggest threats to the title defense of Stuart Maize.  Another big threat will come from last year's runner-up the "Linder Brothers" of Edison, Ohio.  If the NFMS was any indication for the future, the Linders are poised to make a run at grabbing their first Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League Championship.

Additionally, I am very excited to see Warren, Illinois', Gary Brinkmeier and the "Fuelish Pleasure" Case International on the Champions Tour list.  If Gary and his family run the full points circuit, it will add another big threat for the red fans! 

NTPA Grand National Pro Stock
Last year the Schmuckers claimed the NTPA Grand National Title with their "Rampage" John Deere from Louisville, Ohio.  The win was not necessarily a big surprise as the Father/Son Team had been very tough on the state circuit and at the selected Grand National events they ran.  In 2012, the Schmuckers add to their team with the "Git Er Dun Deere".  This addition will only make these guys from Ohio a big threat for a title defense!

On the list of potential champions is the fan favorite Massey Ferguson, the "Warpath" of Carlton Cope.  Over the last few years there might not be a competitor that has gained more ground on the National circuit than Carlton Cope.

The Cains of New Palestine, Indiana, will bring their two tractor team into the title race after a busy off season, which saw them build a new "Ace's Wild" for Chris to drive. Tim Cain "Red Gambler", the 2009 NTPA Grand National Champion and his son Chris will look to bring the title back to the Hoosier state and the International fans.

Additionally carrying the red banner on the NTPA Grand National circuit will be the welcome back tour for pulling legend Rob Russell and his "Work Horse" out of the state of Iowa.  Russell came out for the 2011 season and did a great job of dialing in the new tractor.  If history has any indication on the present, this former Super Stock power may be a big threat for the title.  

Photo Credit:  Jake Morgan Pulloff.com
I am excited to introduce a new feature that I hope to update throughout the pulling season of 2012 in the form of Power Rankings.  On a weekly basis during the college sports season there are weekly poll's published which rank the top teams within the respective sport!  This idea was something that I had pondered, but it wasn't until a discussion with Jesse Post of JP Pulling Productions that I decided to try and do a poll.   Within the NCAA there are many polls that fans can look for their favorite team such as the ESPN, the Coaches poll, USA Today and the AP to name a few.  These rankings are purely for fun, but I feel it may add another unique element to the sport.

Below you will find the first Power Ranking for the Pro Stock Tractor Class.  The rankings for the first poll were based upon the indoor pulling season results and the final standings from the 2011 pulling season! 

Power Rankings
1) Mike Linder- Linder Brother's John Deere

2) Ken Couch- Cotton Pickn Deere John Deere
3) The Schmuckers- Rampage John Deere 
4) Moss and Stratton- Youngbuck John Deere
5) Carlton Cope- Warpath Massey Ferguson
6) David Justison- John  Deere 6030
7) Ross Boersen- Greenline Express John Deere
8) Jeff Sapp- Big Country John Deere
9) Blaine Stamm- Stammpede International
10) Bryce and Calvin Vangenderen- John Deere

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Whats in a Name?

Have you ever reflected about the power that a pulling vehicles name can possess within our sport?  I find myself fascinated by the names that pullers give their vehicles on a daily basis and often try to research why the name was settled upon.  For this topic, I reached out to pullers through Facebook and the pulling message boards with the hope they may be willing to share their story and though I did not share all of the wonderful stories that I received, I did use the information that I got to defend my thoughts.

I believe that a name can fall into one of many themes, some of those themes are; Names that are Team oriented, Names developed to show pride or allegiance to a state or city, Names based on loyalty to a brand, Lyrics to songs, sponsorship influence, profession and occupation of the driver.  I understand that not every puller is motivated by one of these topics but a large majority fall into this framework.  

Names as part of a Team-
Many teams are building an additional truck or are adding to their already existing program.  In doing so the theme used for their other team vehicles may weigh heavily on their decision to keep the team cohesive.  I understand that this is not the case with every team out there but it has become common with many.  Building on the existing theme only helps to restore the identity that has already been created by the team.  

Hometown/Home State
Pulling is a nationwide sport and that brings the element of great pride to the fans in the stands.  Many pullers have followed the trend to name a pulling vehicle to show their love for their home territory.  Additionally, states have also adopted a mascot or slogan, which our sport hasn't wasted any time in embracing to utilize for a name.  Being an avid fan of college athletics, I love how a team can have such an influence on a community, which comes into effect tremendously right now with the March Madness excitement.  I find nothing more thrilling than hearing the fans support someone who is pulling from their home state.  Now if we can get the fans of pulling to create a "Big Blue Nation" or a "Rock Chalk Jayhawk" for the competitors, we will be in great shape. 

As the sport has evolved, so to have the names of pulling vehicles.  Pullers have truly learned to think outside of the box when it comes to naming and have found many ways to play on words to portray their point.  Todd and Tarry Feiss have developed their names based on two common themes; their last name and their profession.  Todd and Tarry own a skiing lodge in Indiana known as Perfect North and when their son suggested they name their economy modified the "S'no-Farmer", it just made perfect sense.  In the years that followed the Feiss's have added more to their pulling arsenal in the form of the "S'no Farmer Extreme" Modified that Todd runs with the OSTPA and NTPA, as well as the aptly named "Feelin Feissty" and "Hoosier Avalanche".  "Feelin Feissty" is a play on their last name and fits the Chevy SSR Two wheel drive just perfectly, while the "Hoosier Avalanche" is actually a name that Todd and Tarry borrowed from a fellow competitor but felt it fit perfectly for the truck that Tarry drives throughout the summer.  As they look to the future, the same concept of naming will hold true for them when the family introduces the "Feissty Farmer", the stable mate to the ever growing "S'no Farmer Extreme".

Brand Loyalty
The Domann's of Winchester, Kansas have made a name for themselves over the years with their Hurricane Allis.  The name carries a double meaning for the Domann's as at the time of naming their tractor any Hurricane in the world was named after women (Alice), plus Allis shows their deep loyalty to the Allis Chalmers brand.
The Domann's classmate Stuart Maize and his Billet Binder bring again a double meaning to the name, as it shows loyalty to the brand of International with the Binder name but also makes reference to one of the advancements in the sport of the Billet Blocks.  The Billet Binder is a name with brand related ties that has developed a tremendous following over the last few years.

Song Lyrics
The 2011 Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League Speedco Truck Lube and Tire Pro Modified Four Wheel Drive champion falls into this category with the vehicle aptly being named; "Gun Powder and Lead".  The Hagedorns of Thompson, Missouri share the name of their truck with a chart topping song by country music's IT girl, Miranda Lambert.  Music is a form of expression and it is clear that pulling fans and competitors like their music.  Finding inspiration in a song lyric occurs for people throughout the world on a daily basis, and I firmly believe that relating to a song is a great way to reach out to a fan base!   

Additionally a puller may find motivation based on their transition into the sport or their class as is the case for Jim Webb and the "Red Headed Stepchild".  When the team made the decision to move to the NTPA Grand National circuit, they did not have the powerplant that many of their competitors may have had in the class.  It was determined by the team that they would feel like the "Red Headed Stepchild" of the class but as time has passed, the team has far exceeded the image their tractor's name portrays. 

What can a name do? 
Names carry a lot.  In NASCAR we associate a driver's name with the vehicle number or sponsors that they are associated with, but in pulling the recognition is aimed toward the vehicle's name.  When pullers reflect on what to title their machine, they should truly consider the idea that they will be known by this name for many years to come.  Many fans can't tell you the driver of a pulling vehicle but with ease they can shout with pride their favorite machine. 

Let's make our pullers Super Heroes
Those who follow the Dirt Late Model Circuit are quite familiar with the nicknames of the drivers on their circuit.  Though I feel pulling is associated by the vehicle name, I do think that the nicknames given to the late model drivers allow one to differentiate within a wide world of motorsports.  The nickname becomes an alias or almost a super hero persona that the driver becomes.  I can just see it now.  How cool would it be for puller's to develop their own alias?   For instance the "Wauseon Warrior Jim Holman" or the "Schochoh Showstopper Brad Moss?"   Having these personas gave the fans yet another reason to ask the question:   "How did they get this nickname or why"?    I firmly believe that if we can truly engage the fans of the sport then why not create an additional opportunity for an impression for the folks that are in the stands?  I am hoping that over the course of the pulling circuit in 2012, that I can help the rookies develop a nickname that the fans will be able to embrace to help grow the following of each individual.  Wouldn't you like to meet New London, North Carolina's own "Axman, Hacksaw, or the Radial-Man" Grayson Shelton, the pilot of the General Tire Cutting Edge?  If a fan can find a means to relate, then we have done our jobs in the sport of pulling.  Every fan is just looking to be influenced.  It is often the name or unique style of the vehicle that draws folks in but maybe the nickname can help to wrangle folks into one team's environment.  

As a fan of pulling, I have always loved the message that a name can portray!  I have witnessed firsthand how popular a specific vehicle can be and the name recognition that accompanies it.  Writing this blog, I often refer to my childhood which was spent in the sport!  I remember the following that John Lorenz of Fresno, Ohio carried when he drove his International Harvester Pro Stocker.  When I close my eyes I can almost hear the fans of Bowling Green starting with a very slow and lightly chanted "Snake".  As the International began to get ready to pull the chant got louder and more frequent, "Snake, Snake, Snake, Snake, Snake".  This scenario truly epitomizes the power of a name when 20,000 fans are chanting the vehicle's name in unison just as the tractor spoils up on the International's screaming horses.  In today's pulling culture, I don't believe there is a name that truly captivated an audience like the "Sneaky Snake" did in the eighties and nineties.

Names that have captured me or an audience over the years!
Whadjathink- The late Jake Owen campaigned this Chevy for a year as part of the HOT Motorsports Team.  The next season he changed the name and the truck over to Outrage but Whadjathink always captured my mind as I love the idea of a question as a title.

Willy Makit- Arguably the most recognizable two wheel drive truck and name in the sport in the last two decades has been a staple of the Long Motorsports Team.  Ricky and Keith purchased the Willy's from Billy Johns of Adairville, Kentucky and campaigned the truck with a few upgrades and changes until the end of 2011.  In early 2012, the truck was purchased by Bob Barbee of Full Pull Motorsports and will be driven by his wife.  

Fancy Farmer- The late Robert Elliott pulled his modified from the area of Mayfield or Fancy Farm, Kentucky from the early eighties to the mid nineties.  Robert was a big threat with his mod and later moved on to a Two Wheeler known as Ol Blue when he finished his pulling career with a slew of Grand National event wins.

Mr. Sparkle- The late Glenn Davis drove the heck out his Chevy S-10 known as Mr. Sparkle.  Glenn was from Hollywood, Florida and truly was considered a threat at any pull he arrived at.
Honkin Donkey- The Hathaway's of Pennsylvania are now back in the sport in the form of Mini Rod's but for years they campaigned a two wheel drive by the name of the Honkin Donkey.  I fell in love with the name and for the trick on the back of truck that promotes the Hathaway's Donkey Farms.
The Odd Couple- Joe Eder was one of the more dominant puller's in the era of this tractor.  The Odd Couple spoke of the motor combination that he ran with his modified out of the state of New York. 

Studley Studebaker- The late Jon Boden was the pilot of this aptly name pulling machine from the Buckeye state.  The Studebaker was quite Studley as it helped raise tremendous awareness of the Super Modified Four Wheel Drive class not only on the state level but the national circuit.  Jon's wife Patty ran the stablemate to Studley known as the Green Machine and the nineties and early two thousand's the Boden's were a potent force.  Their son Bob later took the reigns of the program as his father's health declined but I will never forget just how awesome the Green Studebaker was and what a fitting name it had! 

Shotgun Red- The running mate to my vote for the all time most recognized name the "Sneaky Snake", "Shotgun Red" was driven by John Wilkins of Fresno, Ohio.  The "Shotgun Red" 3688 International was a highly decorated tractor with many NTPA Grand National Titles and Super National wins with the USHRA and NTPA Circuit.  "Shotgun Red" was actually a puppet that was made famous by co-hosting the show Nashville Now on TNN.  Today, the puppet is still very popular and so too is the name in the pulling world.
Orange Blossom Special- What has actually served as anthem for Bluegrass musicians throughout the world describing the train known as the "Orange Blossom Special", also captured the hearts of pulling fans in the eighties when Allen Gaines brought his two wheel drive Chevy to a pull.  Gaines later built a late thirties series Chevy for exhibition only and that truck will forever be carrying it's wheels through my mind like the fiddle in the song makes me sway!
Some of Todays more recognized names- 
Silver Bullet- Jordan Lustik-84, Pennsylvania Unlimited Super Stock 
Redline Fever- Esdon Lehn- Dayton, Minnesota Diesel Super Stock 
American Thunder- Bill Voreis Argos, Indiana Unlimited (May not be competing in 2012) 
4Play- Jim and Paul Holman- Wauseon, Ohio Four Wheel Drive 
Footloose- Larry Koester- Wadesville, Indiana MiniRod 
Dirtslinger- Bill Leischner- Weldon, Illinois Modified 

For years I have often reflected on what I would name my own pulling vehicle if the day or time came that I was to own one.  In all of my reflections the same name sticks out continually and that is the name “Motor Mouth”.  For those of you that know me on a personal level you understand that is a play on words based on the fact that I love to talk and do so quite often at pulls with a microphone in my hand.  Though I have yet to settle on what my nickname might be with my resent move to Evansville, Indiana, I had settled on a name in previous home of Cape Girardeau, Missouri.  The Cape Crusader was certainly a name that I felt was fitting for a super hero type persona but now it is back to the drawing board for names.   

There are so many wonderful pulling names out there and these are just a few that popped into my mind while working on this story. I would like to generate a running list of names based on the feedback we receive on this story and maybe work our way to voting on the most popular name in pulling.  As always I appreciate you reading and I hope you will share your comments on some of your favorite names of pulling vehicles either on here in the comments section or on the Miles Beyond 300 Facebook page. 

Photo Credit to Dan Mayer/Jeff Luckey/Mike Walker/Tarry Feiss