DUNKIRK - The Budweiser Grandstand saw a large crowd as fair-goers watched the Empire State Tractor Pull Thursday evening at the 131st Chautauqua County Fair.
Engines of the Western New York Tractor Pullers Association roared and black smoke ascended into the air as tractors and trucks worked to haul the dead weight 320 feet to the end line.
But this year's tractor pull was a lot different than previous years, according to Dan Meyer of Empire State Pullers.
The heavy super stock tractor Smokin Joe heads down the track with the front two wheels in the air.
Photo by Jimmy McCarthy
Taz Toy, operated by Erv Clark, makes its way to the start line.
Photo by Jimmy McCarthy
"Last year, we didn't have the tractors and the noise that these ones are going to bring," Meyer said. "It should be something to see and listen to."
One thing the crowd had to prepare for was the deafening noise. Meyer told the crowd before the pull commenced with the modified tractors to have some ear plugs, especially for the younger ones. He noted that the engines of the modified tractors are similar to the sound of an airline jet.
"The fair wanted something noisy," Meyer said. "And they got it with the show we have. It should be a good show. We have quite the variety here. "
The pull brought a competition among three classes: Modified tractors, heavy super stock, and two-wheel drive trucks. Two-wheel trucks are turbocharged or supercharged engines and 18.4 by 16.1 inch tires, according to the National Tractor Pullers Association. Modified tractors entail three-blown automotive engines with 30.5 by 32 inch tires. Heavy super stock tractors use multiple turbo chargers and weigh in at 8,000 pounds using alcohol or 8,300 pounds using diesel.
The modified tractors were the first ones up to race down the track. Six of the top drivers were in attendance, including current point's leader and Hamburg native, John Duggan and Dana Freeman of Silver Springs.
Eight heavy super stock tractors came for the pull that included two-time champion Roy Metz. The pull concluded with the two-wheel drive, which included Taz Toy driven by Erv Clark of Machias and Cowboy Cadillac driven by Al VanOstrand of Warren Center, Pa.
The pulling association began in 1975 in efforts to fully organize pulling in western New York. In the mid 1980s, truck pullers decided to form their own club, called the Empire State Pullers and WNYTPA merged with the club in 1988 - retaining the ESP name. Today, ESP conducts pulling events throughout western and central New York, northern Pennsylvania and southern Ontario.
The 2014 schedule is a month away from ending. After the pull at the fair, they will be heading into the final six pulls of the season with the next one taking place at Woodhull, N.Y.
To see Thursday's results, visit www.empirestatepullers.com.