Big crowds at Smokin’ IronPublished 11:04am Monday, June 20, 2011
Ron Haekenkamp of Greenfield, Minn., west of Minneapolis, was in a reflective mood as he patiently awaited his turn to complete Saturday evening during the second day of the annual Smokin’ Iron Truck and Tractor Pull in Ottertail. The 30-year veteran of competition expressed pride in his 1935 Ford pickup with Ford Hemi.
“This competition never grows old for many of us,” said Haekenkamp, a trucker by trade. “I compete mostly in the Upper Midwest during the summer months. I enjoy coming to places such as here in Ottertail, a nice area of Minnesota.”
Haekenkamp’s outstate schedule also includes competition in Texas and Utah.
“During the winter months many of us compete at indoor facilities,” he said. “I guess that’s when you know you’re hooked on events like Smokin Iron.”
The 2011 Smokin’ Iron classes in Ottertail this past weekend included super farm tractors, two-wheel drive trucks, four-wheel-drive trucks and GN minis.
“The weather has held up both nights,” said Haekenkamp. “We finished just in time Friday evening, before some rainfall.”
Ottertail’s Smokin’ Iron Truck and Tractor Pull is an official member of the National Tractor Pullers Association (NTPA). Kathy and Terry Wagenman, who head Smokin’ Iron, greeted people at the main gates and helped sell tickets. They were among 125 volunteers who worked at the annual Smokin Iron, sponsored by the Ottertail Business Persons Association.
The NTPA sets the standard in the pulling industry for safety and competition rules.
Super Farm Tractors (SFT) are closest to off the farm workhorses as part of NTPA competition. Engine size is limited to 640 cubic inches, using the OEM manifold and heads for that brand engine. Modified four-wheel-drive trucks are the only “naturally aspirated” division in NTPA competition. They utilize both rear and front wheels to pull.
“It’s fun to see the many units that are here for the competition,” said Haekenkamp. “People are having a good time.”