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Thundering through town

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For one day in late June, the familiar smells and sounds of summer will be overshadowed by the stench of spewing exhaust and the revving of large vehicles.

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But it will be well worth it.

On Saturday, June 26, the Becker County Fairgrounds will host the Thunder in DL Truck and Tractor Pull at the Becker County Fairgrounds. The gates open at 3 p.m., and the pull is at 4.

Entering this year's tractor pull will be Joe Morris, with his custom-made tractor, "Full Throttle."

This beast, which boasts four 450 cubic inch engines, a 60 mile-per-hour wheel speed and a fresh paint job, will be entering the 7,500-pound open class competition.

An especially unique feature of "Full Throttle" is the way its four engines are positioned -- two facing forward, two sideways.

"That technology came from the military", said Jeff Janke, Morris' friend and fellow coordinator -- as well as co-participant -- in the pull.

Tractor pulling may seem to be more show than sport, but it has regulations and objectives, just like football or soccer. We're going for distance," Janke said. "It's kind of like drag racing -- 300 feet at a time."

Scoring is simple. "We pull for points," Janke explained. First place winners get 30 points, 2nd place get 29, and so on down the line.

Yet, the sheer force of the machinery involved, sets tractor pulling apart from other sports.

"It's the most powerful motor sport," Janke noted.

But as masculine and competitive as tractor pulling may be, it's all done for a good cause. The proceeds will be shared with the Detroit Lakes Fire Department.

The Red River Valley Puller's Association -- which the local pull runs through -- has been around since the 1970s, but tractor pulling didn't begin with farm-boys racing their daddy's tractors on an Iowa farm in the 70's, as easy as that may be to believe. "It started in Europe," Janke said. The sport has seen its share of wild entries through the years. "Aircraft engines, turbine engines out of helicopters," Janke said, listing the outlandish engines people have bolted to their tractors.

The tractor pull in DL won't be quite as crazy as some -- it's "mostly its truck and tractors" -- but it will have its share of oddities. "I think we're having the National Guard down with the tank again," Janke said. He added: There's going to be a John Deere "R" with an Alison aircraft (bomber) engine bolted in sideways."

Those who think tractor pulling is only for those with enormous sums of money to throw at a hobby shouldn't be dissuaded from trying it out. "We do an entry level class," Janke said, meaning that people with less expensive tractors can compete with others on the same boat.

All in all, there are four classes of tractors.

As for any hopes for this year, Janke said "I just hope we have a good day for it, and I hope people enjoy ourselves. We want to continue on doing this. People get pretty excited about it. We try to attract new blood for our shows."

Janke would like to thank all the sponsors of the Thunder in DL Truck and Tractor pull, as well as Gene Brend, the pull's tireless promoter.

For more information on tractor pulling, visit rrvpa.com.

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