Super Pull turns 42, still at the head of the class

Friday, July 13, 2018
2017 2,050-lb Open Modified Mini-Tractor series champion Bertus Boer won last year’s first session and is expected back once again this year at the Lions Club Super Pull of the South.
Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca

In the bicentennial year of our nation a few local men ran supped-up tractors down a track at Chapel Hill not really knowing what they had birthed.

At the forefront of the event was the Chapel Hill Lions Club, who sponsored that first tractor pull that grew to national recognition by the ‘80’s and now some 42 years later, the Lions Super Pull of the South is acknowledged as one of the premier events on the National Tractor Pull Association’s schedule.

“Through my time with this club I have met some of the greatest people you can ever meet,” recently elected Lions Club President Brian Williams said. “It’s absolutely amazing that folks will show up a month before hand and chain their chairs to the fence and that just shows you that the people that come here are dedicated and mark this event on their calendar.”

Chapel Hill Lions Club president Brian Williams (left) and pull committee member and longtime Lion Tim Tipps pose in front of the track at Lions Motorsports Park that will undergo a major reformation in the next couple of days in preparation for the 42nd Annual Lions Super Pull of the South next weekend.

The Super Pull has major sponsorships in Shell Rotella T Oil, O’Reilly Auto Parts, Touchstone Energy Cooperatives, Lyons Chevrolet, the GM/UAW Spring Hill manufacturing plant, plus many more small businesses that donate products and time to the Super Pull.

“My company and all these major companies take a lot of pride in this event,” said Williams, who is the manager at O’Reilly’s Auto Parts in Chapel Hill. “We appreciate the big ones, but I go back to all the little ones in my little town that throw some kind of donation towards this thing and it is all these little ones like Tire World, the Country Diner, Chapel Hill Auto Care and all the others at the bottom that keep the big ones at the top afloat.”

Williams stressed, “Everybody says that the Lions Club does for the town, but I’m going to disagree with that, I believe it’s the town that makes the club and I want to stress to the community that it is them that makes us, not the other way around.”

Last year’s purse was over $100,000 and is expected to be even heftier for the winners of the five classes in the two-night event that begins next Friday at 7 p.m.

Anyone who has been around long enough and has witnessed the transformation of Lions Motorsports Park knows it takes every ounce of help from the volunteers from the community.

“For the people who think these events just spring up and are just ready to go, I assure you, come hung out with us Thursday night and I can show you what it takes to get this rolling and all these guys that come out in the 100 degree heat do this this because they love it,” Williams said.

NTPA.com is live-streaming the event from Lions Motorsports Park with tickets costing $50 for a two-night reserved seat package or $25 reserved, $20 general admission adult, and $10 general admission child for Friday night’s first session and $30 reserved, $25 general admission adult, and $10 general admission child on Saturday night.

Tickets may be purchased from the event's website (www.LionsSuperPull.com) or at gate.

This will be the first year that no coolers will be allowed onto the grounds.

Beer sales will require a state issued ID and the color-coded bracelet must be worn at all times.

“We do apologize for the no coolers thing, but we have to catch up with the times,” Williams said. “We were one of the very few events that did allow coolers, but with the liability issue, we had to make some choices and unfortunately this was one of them.”

The classes remain the same as last year with the 2,050-lb. Open Modified Mini Tractors, 8,000-lb. Unlimited Modified Tractors, 8,000-lb. Super Stock Diesel Tractors, 10,000-lb. Pro Stock Tractors, and the 6,200-lb. Modified Four-Wheel-Drive Trucks.

Loyal tractor pull fans come from all over the country to attend the Super Pull of the South.

“When that first machine goes up and that feeling hits your chest and the adrenaline starts pumping, I’m having a great time just like everyone else in the crowd,” Williams said. “It’s something about that motor firing up, smelling that fuel and that feeling that beats against you when they go.”

Class winners from the 2017 Lions Super Pull of the South were Bertus Boer of Ysselmuiden, Netherlands ("Bobcat Jr." MINI), Grayson Shelton of New London, North Carolina ("Sawed-Off" MINI), Chuck Knapp of Charles City, Iowa ("Screamin' D" UNL), and Brad Benedict of Marion, Ohio ("Non-Cents All Screwed Up" UNL), Stan Blagrave of Ackerly, Texas ("Red Horse" SSD), Travis Schlabach of Marengo, Iowa ("Bone Twister" SSD), Kevin Schmucker of Louisville, Ohio ("Git-Er-Dun Deere" PS), Peyton Davis of Tappahannock, Virginia ("Young Gun" FWD), Paul Holman of Wauseon, Ohio ("4 Play" FWD).

“These guys put their heart and souls into this,” Williams said. “The drivers are just as awesome as their machines.”

Ken Lamb and his crew are nationally renowned for preparing one of the best tracks on the NTPA circuit.

“I spend a lot of time in the pits with these guys shaking their hands and half of them know me by my fist name and when we go to other pulls they all know me by my first name. It’s a comradery, it’s a family, and the NTPA family is incredible to me. For a kid that came from nowhere (near Detroit), I have been put into a family that loves me and I love them back, I don’t know how else to say it.”

Also expected to be on the starting line near the Norman Henson south gate are defending 2017 Grand National champions Knapp, Davis, Jody and Colin Ross of Waynesburg, Pennsylvania ("Triple Bypass" SSD), and Charles Pelletier of St. Armand, Quebec ("CP Dream II" PS).

The Lions Club is dedicated to helping the community and a bevy of charitable organizations, donating hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years, including locally to the football team, the library, the emergency responders and nationally to the Tour de Cure Bicycle Race that benefits the American Diabetes Foundation, the Kidsight Outreach Program at the Monroe Carrell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt University, and A Soldier’s Child Foundation that helps the children of our fallen heroes.