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Tractor pull draws curtain on Fayette County Free Fair

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Wearing his tractor shirt, two-year-old John Heitkamp watches the NTPA/HSTPA tractor pull event with his father Matt Heitkamp at the 2018 Fayette County Free Fair, Saturday evening inside the Roberts Park amphitheater. Despite his young age, John is a tractor enthusiast. According to Matt, a farmer from Finley, Ohio, the youngster gets upset anytime he’s not permitted to ride on the family tractor with his dad. John’s mother is Jennifer Heitkamp.
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With smoke billowing, Connersville’s John Pfeiffer begins his run aboard Pfeiffermax, Saturday evening at the 2018 Fayette County Free Fair NTPA/HSTPA tractor pull. Pfeiffer easily won the NTPA Heavy Super Stock class, pulling the sled 343.010 feet, far ahead of Todd Anderson, who claimed second with a pull of 278.080 feet.

By GRADY TATE - gtate@newsexaminer.com

It’s a tradition at the Fayette County Free Fair that goes back many years.

When the final vehicle completes its pull at the NTPA/HSTPA tractor pull, late on Saturday night, the fair comes to a close.

At the 2018 pull, that close came a little sooner than normal, as Saturday night’s pull had a lower-than-normal number of competitors.

“This time of year, it’s really difficult to get vehicles in here,” one of the event coordinators, Chris Gettinger said. “There are just so may places to go pulling. There are county fairs, a lot of regional and national hooks, just so many options for pullers to go. It’s just hard to get a lot of equipment here right now.”

The stress placed on the machines to perform well can also affect the numbers, Gettinger added.

“The numbers will struggle at times, due to breakage,” he said. “I am struggling with that myself, and I hate not being able to run in my home pull. A lot of time, it’s just a matter of waiting on parts.”

In the National Tractor Pull Association portion of the show, seven Super Stock and six Four-Wheel Drive vehicles gave the sled a try.

Driving the Fat Headz Eyewear machine, Jake Zaring was the winner in the latter class, going a distance of 334.640 feet. The Fillmore, Ind. driver then added more purse money, finishing second (321.340 feet) in another vehicle, Dixie Chopper.

Ike Zaring finished third in Bucket List, making it a family sweep of the top three places.

In the Super Stock, hometown puller John Pfeiffer gave the crowd its biggest thrill of the night. With a large fan-base on hand, riding aboard Pfeiffermax, he pulled the sled 343.010 feet to win that class.

Second place went to Arcanum, Ohio’s Todd Anderson atop Color Me Gone.

The Hoosier State Tractor Pull Association part of the night followed with three classes of vehicles — Farm Stock (12,000), Farm Stock (16,000) and Diesel Trucks.

Timothy Roell won the 12,000 class with a pull of 237.97 feet.

The 16,000 pull was for Fayette County competitors only.

“A few years ago, we put in that county-only farm stock class, in an effort to get local people to come in and participate,” Gettinger said.

Jake Pfeiffer earned the win in that division, going 264.49 feet. 

Taking the Diesel Truck title home was Dave Savoy with a pull of 316.84.

“When we run into the four-wheel-drive trucks, there’s not a lot of those around anyway,” Gettinger said. “To get six or seven of them here tonight is a pretty good turnout.

“Those that do come here are pretty dedicated to get here for this pull. You can ask any of the pullers and they’ll tell you that we have one of the better tracks around.”

A lot of work goes into fostering those compliments, he said.

“We do a lot of maintenance to the track and a lot of up-keep. The pullers really appreciate that.

“The Fayette Promoters are in charge of the June tractor pull, and we (the Fair Board) help them with the manpower. At this pull, the roles are reversed, it’s a Fair Board pull, and the Fayette Promoters provide the help.

“We came in about 10 a.m. this morning,” he continued. “They had the demolition derby here last night, so we had to move the blocks, pick up car parts and stuff like that.”

Similar to what you will find in the Motocross, Autocross and Demolition Derby events at the fair, the tractor pull also has plenty of family backing, all of them throwing support to the event.

“I have a lot of nephews that we wear out each year,” Gettinger said with a smile. “It takes help from many people like them, and they do it for nothing. We could not do this without the help that we get. It means a lot to us to have that kind of help.

“We’re just happy to have this and that we are able to do it for the fans.” 

FAYETTE COUNTY FREE FAIR

NTPA / HSTPA Tractor Pull

Results

NTPA Heavy Super Stock

1. John Pfeiffer (Pfeiffermax) 343.010; 2. Todd Anderson (Color Me Gone) 278.080; 3. J.R. Miller 268.490; 4. Russell Bolser Jr. (Natural High) 243.610; 5. Barry Eliker (Buckeye Bandit) 188.520; 6. Tom Foley (Puff-N-Stuff) 130.040; 7. Tom Foley (Smokin-Thunder) 0.430.

NTPA Four-Wheel Drive

1. Jake Zaring (Fat Headz Eyewear); 2. Jake Zaring (Dixie Chopper) 321.340; 3. Ike Zaring (Bucket List) 320.610; 4. Don Grant (Rags to Riches) 307.940; 5. Christopher Taylor (Grain Hollers Mafia) 297.81; 6. Darren Taylor (Super Chevy) 293.45.

HSTPA Farm Stock (12,000)

1. Timothy Roell 237.97; 2. Zach Hart 235.02; 3. Kyle Chappelow 204.43; 4. Kevin Chappelow 189.77; 5. Blake Gabbard 188.13; 6. Steve Moster 181.16; 7. Scott Orr 176.99; 8. Ryan Ruf 175.74; 9. Marcus Linke 172.04; 10. Dylan Logan 171.38.

HSTPA Farm Stock (16,000) Fayette County only

1. Jake Pfeiffer 264.49; 2. Jason Jobe 237.49; 3. Kyle Ruf 229.80; 4. Monica Wehr 141.14.

HSTPA Diesel Truck

1. Dave Savoy 316.84; 2. Josh Ruble 296.41; 3. Cole Solomon 285.60; 4. Brendan Hahn 284.76; 5. Jake Risch 272.91.