National Tractor Pulling Championships return to Bowling Green

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BOWLING GREEN, Ohio (WTVG) - Tractors tilling the soil is a common sight in the Midwest, but turning them into bonafide racing machines is mostly familiar to Bowling Green residents.

The 53rd National Tractor Pulling Championships kick off Thursday, and they're expecting over 60,000 people to attend -- about as much as last year's Jeep Fest in Toledo.

Media director Dave Schultz suggests that "you literally have to have hearing protection, because it's just that loud and makes the stands shake."

Well before the championships were established, Bowling Green was the site of one of the first tractor pulling spectacles way back in 1929. Nearly 90 years later, the horsepower's gone up, and so has the prize money: over $150,000 up for grabs.

Modified trucks with a wide variety of paint jobs line the outside of the grandstands, and food, drink and live music round out the festivities. The younger ones can even pull replica tractors alongside their high-octane counterparts.

"They're only trying to pull maybe 40-50 pounds," says Schultz, "but they're working just as hard as the [larger] motorized ones."

This tractor pull is easily the world's largest, but 4-time champion Chuck Knapp says the interest extends across continents.

"A year ago last March, we were invited over to the Netherlands and pulled in Amsterdam," recalls Knapp. "They hauled it over on a ship and took care of all the shipping, got us there and got us back home."

As far as fuel economy goes, these machines aren't really measured in miles per gallon. Schultz estimates that "it comes down to about 740 gallons per mile. They use about 40 gallons in a 300-foot pull."

You can feel all 12,000 horses rattling the stands through Saturday at the Wood County Fairgrounds. For tickets and more information, visit