Vintage tractors pull a crowd

By Simon Ginns

Dedicated diesel fans gathered on Sunday, March 3 to witness the toughest tractors do battle in this year’s Vintage Tractor Pull.

Organised by the Corowa Historic Vehicle and Machinery Club, the event is a rare opportunity for enthusiasts to show that there is still plenty of life in in their old farm machinery. 

Fifty-five tractors battled for honours in this year’s competition across 10 horsepower classes.

Club President Bill Petzke explained that the rules of the events are simple. 

“You hook your tractor to the sled and see how far you can pull it,” he told The Free Press. 

“Each tractor does two runs. Whoever pulls the most distance wins that class.” 

The competition takes place on a carefully maintained 100-metre dirt track. Grading and watering between each pull keeps the surface track consistent.

At the heart of the event is the sled designed and built by Mr Petzke and fellow club member Don Cottam.

The sled looks like a flatbed trailer carrying a low steel weight box. The wheels on the sled drive a winch that moves the weight box forward as the sled is dragged down the course. As the weight moves forward it applies more force to the skid plate at the front making it harder to pull.

The sled is certainly no lightweight.

“The weight box is about seven tonnes and with the rest of it you are looking at between 10 and 12 tonne in total,” Mr Petzke said.

As well as operating the sled, both Mr Petzke and Mr Cottam competed in this weekend’s event.

Both men understand the subtle art of getting the most out of their machines.

“There is a bit of science to it, you have to pick your spots (on the track),” Mr Petzke said.

“A big percentage of drivers just jump in, take off and go. You can do that and still enjoy yourself.”