Super Pull of the South starts July 24

Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Chris Gilbert displays a tractor pull sled model he has at his H&S drug store in Chapel Hill.

CHAPEL HILL - The biggest, and quite possibly the loudest tractor pull in the Southeast United States starts here in nine days, according to organizers in this north Marshall County town.

"We draw the pullers from all over the United States," says Chris Gilbert, chairman of the Lions Super Pull of the South, a two-day sporting event conducted July 24-25 at Forrest High School's football stadium.

"It's the largest sporting event in Marshall County," Gilbert said.

He estimates that 18,000 to 20,000 people will be in Chapel Hill for the 33rd annual event where Police Chief Jackie King is well aware of the influx.

"I've requested six state troopers, all of the county deputies I can get, all five of my people and any other law enforcement officer willing to come down," King said of his need for traffic control and other law enforcement in this town of some 1,000 residents.

The inn at Henry Horton State Park has been sold out for the weekend, he said. Many of the visitors stay in motels in Lewisburg and at the Interstate 65 interchange with State Route 99.

"And there are a lot of campers," the chief said as the tractor pull chairman agreed.

Many of the contestants arrive in tractor-trailer trucks that carry their competitive machines as well as living quarters for the time they are in Chapel Hill, Gilbert said.

Frequently the mobile living quarters are as fancy as the tractors.

"We'll have one here that has six V-8s, all aluminum, super charged Hemis producing 2,500 horsepower per engine," Gilbert said.

The tractors pull a sled with moveable weights that are adjusted during the event to increase the difficulty of the pull as the tractor progresses down the track. Weights are added and removed for the various classes. There will be some tractors pulling the sled with weights totaling 140,000 pounds, Gilbert said.

An estimate of the attendance last year said that revenues were down during the event in July 2008, but Gilbert said, "From all indications, participation will be up" this year.

"Advance ticket sales are up," Gilbert said. "Like all other programs, sponsorship is down, but we hope it will pick up."

Florida, Texas, Georgia and Missouri "are just a few of the states from which contestants and spectators will come," he said.

The tractor pull "brings in a lot of people to Marshall County for motels, shops, gasoline and sales," the event chairman said. "It is a Lions Club project, but it takes the whole community to put it on; family, wives, friends."

The tractor pull is a "100 percent charitable program," he said. The money goes to help schools' libraries, the Forrest High School Rocket Band of Blue, athletic teams, facilities and "our most important program: the Lions Club's White Cane program for which the local Lions donate $35,000 annually."