Super Pull of the South takes center stage

Wednesday, July 19, 2017
Mike Conny pulls to victory at the 2016 Lions Super Pull of the South in Chapel Hill. Conny won his first Grand National championship last season in his powerful John Deere “MAC Nasty” in the Pro Stock division. The Alliance, OH native will be back this year to defend his title as the 2017 Lions Super Pull of the South revs up this weekend in Chapel Hill.
Tribune photo by Anthony S. Puca

Practice makes perfect and after 41 years the Chapel Hill Lions Club has mastered the biggest multiple award winning Tractor Pull in the country.

Chapel Hill Lions Club volunteers from left, Kevin Franklin, Phillip Manners and Scott Leonard help align the 2,000 pound barrier blocks on Wednesday afternoon at the Lions Club Memorial Track.

“There is a team that oversees this and they have done this for years and they are good at what they do,” Lions Club President Wes Higdon said. “It’s an ongoing process, when this one ends the committee will be looking at next year’s event right off the bat.”

The 2017 Lions Club Super Pull of the South commences tonight at Chapel Hill for two nights of exciting action that attracts over 20,000 spectators to the county.

“The local business love to see the people in town, it helps their bottom line,” Higdon said. “It puts us on the map and people come back when they find out we have a state park.”

The preparation is a 365 day process that is staffed by all volunteers from the Lions Club, who take pride in making the Super Pull an event that is cherished by the fans and pullers that come from all over the country.

“You will see people here from several surrounding states that have been here several years straight,” Higdon said. “They say what makes them come back is the hospitality of the people here.”

The UAW-GM Spring Hill auto plant and The Touchstone Energy Cooperatives remain the largest sponsors of the event.

Current Lions Club President Wes Higdon (right) stands with outgoing president Phillip Manners.

“Our sponsors are very important and the Tractor Pull gets bigger and bigger as we get more sponsors,” Higdon said. “It also helps keep the people involved from our community that work at GM/UAW.”

Other big sponsors include Shell Rotella, Coca Cola, Lyons Chevrolet, and O’Reilly’s.

Track supervisor Ken Lamb (foreground) and heavy equipment operator Ryan Johnson discuss the process of laying down the barrier blocks.

The Super Pull of the South is also renowned for having one of the best tracks on the NTPA circuit and much of the accolades are due to the expertise of Ken Lamb, who oversees the track maintenance crew.

“It’s a great track and Ken does a great job of getting it ready,” Higdon said. “It’s the drivers that say we have one of the best tracks in the circuit, so Ken and his crew do a great job every year, no matter the conditions.”

There will be five classes vying for titles at the Lions Super Pull of the South, including the Pro Stock Tractor Division.

This National Tractor Pull Association sanctions the event that will feature entrants in the Diesel Super Stock Tractors, Pro Stock Tractors, 4-Wheel Drive Trucks, Unlimited (multi-engine) Tractors, and the Mini-Rod Classes who will all vie for over $100,000 in prize money.

2016 Lions Super Pull of the South winners were Steve Blagrave of Ackerly, Texas ("Red Horse" SSD), Travis Schlabach of Marengo, Iowa ("Bone Twister" SSD), Tim Shipley of Kensington, Ohio ("Mr. MAC Daddy" PS), Peyton Davis of Tappahannock, Virginia ("Punisher" FWD), Larry Peterson of Baldwin, Wisconsin ("Profab Geared Up" FWD), Larry Koester of Wadesville, Indiana ("Footloose" MINI), Adam Koester of Wadesville, Indiana ("Walk the Line" MINI), Ricky Rose of Glencoe, Minnesota ("Giddy Up" UNL), and Steve Boyd of Washington, Indiana ("Green Streak" UNL).

The weekend long extravaganza that nets upwards to $500,000 every year has become the tool of giving back to the community for the Lions Club that donates time and money to a number of charitable causes including the Special Olympics of Marshall County, the Marshall County Education Foundation, the Marshall County Child Development Center, the Columbia State Community College Foundation, the Imagination Library, and Leader Dogs for the blind and White Cane Safety Day.

The Forrest Rocket football team helps move the bleachers for the weekend event into place.

The Lions Club also supports the Tour de Cure Bicycle Race that benefits the American Diabetes Foundation and the Kidsight Outreach Program at the Monroe Carrell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt University.

In recent years the Lions Club has also become a sponsor for A Soldier’s Child Foundation that serves the children of military personnel who have lost their lives on active duty, while defending the United States of America.

The ASC provides support for the family members of fallen soldiers through birthday celebrations, mentorship programs, college scholarships, a Journey Camp, and hunting and fishing programs currently in Tennessee, Texas, South Carolina and Louisiana.

One of the biggest changes this year will be the sale of beer at the event, which in the past has only allowed fans to bring a certain amount of alcoholic beverages into the event in a personal cooler.

“It’s about being able to control the underage drinking versus coming in with a cooler and who knows who gets into it,” Higdon said. “The fans will be purchasing beer with tokens and will be checked for the proper ID and will get an armband. If you don’t have an armband, you can’t buy beer.”

This will be the last year that coolers will be allowed at the Super Pull.

The weather forecast for the weekend is rain-free, but temperatures will soar into the upper 90’s on Friday and Saturday, making proper hydration a priority for the fans, volunteers and the hundreds of pullers who man the extraordinary machines that scream down the track late into the night.

The event starts at 7 p.m. both nights with tickets for Friday's session costing $25 for reserved seating, $20 for general admission adult, and $10 for general admission child. Tickets for Saturday's session are $30 reserved eating, $25 for general admission adult, and $10 for general admission child.

Tickets may be purchased from the event's website (www.LionsSuperPull.com). For additional information about the event, visit the website of the NTPA (www.NTPAPULL.com).