Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Sabotage--We talk all the time about the Good; now a brief moment on the Bad and Ugly...

This is one of those stories that I quite frankly admit that I didn’t care to have to write, but it was time to do it.  After recent events at a pull I attended,  the issue had to be explored, had to come to light. 

Let me preface this story with this comment:  The activities of a few should NEVER cast a shadow upon an event, promoter or the other pullers that had nothing to do with the activity.  It is however the activities of the few that leaves a bad taste in everyone’s mouth from top to bottom and it should be directly attributed to the person who committed the crime, and no one else.

The first time I was ever around a tractor that had been tampered with was owned by grandfather’s mechanic some 25 years ago.  The mechanic, owning a very stout 88 Oliver, had done well in his early classes but at some point in the evening someone had found means to put sugar in his fuel tank.  In his own words “The S.O.B. ran good ‘til I got sabotaged.”  For whatever reason I remember that as clear as day, probably because I added S.O.B. to my vocabulary that day, and my dad soon removed it.  Moving on...

Tampering comes in many forms, from something as simple as messing with tire pressure to pulling wires off a tractor.   One puller recently told me that his chains and boomers were taken off his trailer, which is just a higher lever of tampering in outright theft.  There are any number of scenarios, and none of them are good.  Most everyone reading this has heard of something sabotaged or has had it done to them.

What lies underneath this is the current is someone putting a chink in the armor of what is one of the last few sportsmanlike of motorsports.  From drag racing to dirt tracks to Sprint Cup, you have to watch your back.  Pulling has largely avoided that stigma, especially at those events we cover here at The HOOK.  I don’t think that is the case now, but in my own estimation you have to speak out about misuse and abuse early to get it stopped before it runs rampant.

I don’t know what possesses folks to do something like this, but it is pretty obvious: tampering with a vehicle is the highest level of cowardice in motorsports, period.  My advice to them is simply, sell your tractor, and don’t come back.  Your brand of kicks is unwanted and unneeded in this or any other motorsport.  If you are afraid of getting beat, then take your licks and find some means to get better.   Become a better driver, a better track reader, do something other than messing with other people’s stuff.  A victory gained by those means is not a victory at all; it is a farce.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

That time again...

Tonight we finished the latest issue of The HOOK.  It is the largest edition we have printed yet at 76 pages.  We have had great opportunity to meet and work with some wonderful new people in the sport, and we want to continue to do that as much as possible. 

What I'm about to share partly comes from the latest editorial.  There's a sports talk show personality named Jim Rome whose main gig is spending three hours a day spouting of to millions of listeners--he is popular.  One of his bits or actually could be what he believes to be true.  His claim is that the show is much better when he is the only one talking, and not any of the many listeners who might call in.  "More of me, less of you" he says.

For The HOOK, the opposite is true. It is my intent to help you all, the readers and pullers, to become more involved in the content of the magazine.  I do not to plan to slow down the amount I travel to meet new pullers in new clubs, I simply cannot be everywhere at once.  More of YOU, Less of ME. 

If you have comments and ideas, shoot them my way. is the best way to reach me.

Although this blogging bit has been pretty sporadic, I have had ample windshield time to think through some ideas and hash them out to share in a manner everyone can understand...So expect more ramblings on...

For now, Let's go Pullin'

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Better Late Than Never

In the time since I updated this blog there has been a flurry of activity with The HOOK.  July/August has been out for some time now, and September/October is now coming together.  While there is no shortage of material for this coming issue, I ask again:  PLEASE send in your results and photos, your stories.  Some have answered the call and I am glad for it.  I simply think there is so much pulling going on in the country that could be covered that this magazine could go monthly, I just need help in getting the info in here.  At a minimum I see the magazine becoming an 80 page magazine soon, making it the largest pulling magazine of any kind. This time last year I was asked to bring the magazine back to its roots, and I hope we've succeeded in that mission. Im still covering some local and regional hot equipment and that has been pretty warmly received as well.  I think that the understanding is now there that the magazine will always have antiques and classics at the heart and soul of its being, and anything else will not take away from antique coverage. 

As always thanks for the time and support you bring to your HOOK magazine.  Keep me updated and informed on your clubs goings-on, we're proud to feature them here.  Lets go pulling!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Mixed Emotions

Wow. What a week we have had here recently in this part of the world.  For me I have had a tidal wave of different thoughts and emotions.  I had initially thought I would make this section pretty light hearted, but that just doesnt seem right.  Maybe next time.  Right now I feel humbled;  I feel proud;  and I feel very very grateful, all about  very unrelated subjects. 

I am humbled by the power of the weather.  Seeing the ravages of what happened to our friends and neighbors to the not-too-distant south and the loss of life and property can quickly put you in check.  I feel grateful for the safety of those who remain, and proud of the response that has been assembled to provide aid and comfort to those in need. 

I am humbled by the servicemen and women who toil away in a pile of rock halfway across the world and the resounding blow dealt to al-Qaeda last night. Their efforts will not go unrewarded.  Oddly enough, I had been prepared to discuss some family info that came to light this weekend courtesy of one of my surviving great uncles.  I am humbled by him as well.  He has elected to take the time to recount his life history, and reading about his time spent as a POW in Germany is yet another way I am reminded that most of what we deal with in life shouldnt be taken nearly as seriously as it sometimes is;  it is our duty however to utilize our situations and opportunities to their fullest, as my uncle gave his best just as the men and women of the Armed Forces do today.  I am grateful for their sacrifice, and proud to call many of these men and women family.   

Today was the last day for a family in my home county to milk Holsteins after doing so for 65 years.  Three generations of the family grew up, lived, worked, played, and loved one another on that farm.  While they're not moving off the land, the knowledge that the lights in the milk barn were not turned on this evening is deeply saddening to me.  The way they lived their lives and worked the land is humbling;  while I know the pain of seeing a chapter of life on the farm ending, I cannot fathom their situation.  The silver lining is that they are a family of bright and talented people who will apply themselves to this new chapter of their lives just as they applied the many years prior.  The dignity, the pride, and the integrity with which they operate makes me grateful to call them friends and learn from them. 

Thats it.  I am ready to go back pulling.  I have put up a schedule on the website of my travels.  I have already received invitation to attend events based on my appeal to fill my schedule, and I encourage everyone to give me a heads up about their coming events as there may very well be situations where an event may be rained out and I am free to go elsewhere.  Thank you for the time and for the opportunity to serve.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Just the the FAQs, please.

Looks like for many of us that live in the heart of pulling country we still have some significant weather headed our way this week.  I for one am ready to be done with it! 

So, what about the FAQs?

There are a number of Frequently Asked Questions I get, I figured I would address them in this forum.

1) Whats the difference between the periodical rate mail and first class rate mail on the magazine?
Periodical rate mail is basically third class mailing, most magazines are sent out in this fashion.  The post office says they have 15 business days to deliver the magazine at that rate.  What I'm finding as a new publisher is this:  Most magazines get delivered in the first 10 days regardless of mail type, but indeed most if not all first class arrives in the first seven business days.  I got my personal copy in two business days after mailing; some get it as soon as the next day after mailing.
First class is kinda self explanatory then, it does speed your delivery up. 

2)  What are you going to do with the magazine?
I do get this question some, and from some folks who may be wary of change.  My focus, intent, purpose, mission-however you wish to describe it-is to keep antique and classic tractors at the heart of the magazine.  Anything that is not antique or classic is an ADDITION to the magazine, it will not take away from the heart and soul of the magazine.  There is a growing number of pullers in different segments of the sport, true.  We'll expand our coverage to include them.

3) Can I send in photos/results from my club and get it published?
YES!   In fact I would be proud to have any coverage I can get in, especially from those clubs and states that we have either not covered or havent covered in some time.  Send it by email or through the regular mail.  I'm just like everyone else, I like to see different and new tractors from different parts of the country!

4) Why cant I get it at TSC?
Quite frankly, until I get the magazine at a certain subscription level, getting in a TSC store is not a priority.  The magazine business, at least the third parties you must deal with to put the magazine on shelves, make it hard to break even, let alone be profitable.  I now know why some of the magazines at TSC and other stores run in the neighborhood of $8 an issue and higher! 

5) What is your favorite class?
This may seem to be a BS answer, but its the truth:  I like all of the tractor classes.  I see the enthusiasm for all of the classes, be it a farm stock, 1st gear only class or a full on Open Super Stocker.  They all have a beauty about them to me.  I do have an interest in some of the growing classes, seeing a class or division of tractors grow is intriguing to me.

6) How do I get on the cover of the magazine?
Honest to goodness, here's how I do it:  There is only one cover that is spoken for per year, the January/February issue with Tunica King of the Hill winners on that cover.  I pick the remainder based on some simple thoughts:  1) Has to be a good picture.  2) Rotate the brand featured on the cover in a fair and equitable manner...the only thing Im a socialist about...ONLY thing... 3) Feature a little different class on the cover from issue to issue 4) Cannot be a five engined mod...
Thats random as you can get.

There you have it.  I dont have much else to say other than Im starting to work on the next issue already.  The NATPA championships, The Crane Collier event, come local Relay for Life pulls, a tech article or two, are already at the front of my list.  The NATPA and Crane articles I wanted to give them room to breathe and grow for the next issue, because there's lots to be said.  Hope you all enjoy this current issue as it hits mailboxes, thanks for your support!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Assorted Ramblings

This time is going to be a hodge-podge of thoughts that have struck me lately.

What about this weather folks?  I was able to get out to an outdoor event in Temple Hill, KY for a while, a benefit pull for Relay for Life.  I bugged out though after a call from my wife giving me a blow by blow account of some rotation headed in our general direction.  Of course, with my luck, it pretty much died out;  I haven't heard yet but its safe to say they got most of the event in.  I am ready for a little dry weather for sure, as would many of you who dont like the thought of planting corn deep into May.

The newest magazine mailed yesterday (Friday the 22nd), and I hope everyone enjoys it.  Getting this one out of the way, for whatever reason, has helped me open up my schedule to get some things done that have been left undone.  Website updates, processing of video, plus a wholesale organization of 18 years worth of back issues that need cataloging.  I plan on adding more stuff to the tech portion of the website, there is a wealth of stuff I wish to share with those who have internet access as much of it is as relevant today as it was the day it was published.

Another thing crossing my mind is where in the world Im going to be this summer!  Even with the prospect of high fuel prices, I will be making every effort to get out to as many events as I can.  My focus will be those events I've directed this magazine towards, antique, classic, state and regional pulling.  YES I will be attending some NTPA and PPL events this summer, but that number has been cut back and in the case of the NTPA events that coverage will be for the NTPA's in-house magazine, The Puller.  I'll post my schedule soon;  if anyone sees a date open and would like for me to attend their event, let me know. Im also game for weeknight events, just give me a shout!  If I can't make it, by all means send me your information, results, and photos.   I want them!!  If your club/state/region hasnt been represented in the magazine lately, send it in!  My goal is to cover as much pulling as time and space allows in each issue from now on.  Bottom line is that I want this magazine to be what it was when it was at it's peak, and even better, but I need all the help I can get to make that a possibility!

Last thing for today-
I want to wish every one a Happy, Safe, and Blessed Easter.  I count myself as a very blessed person, and without getting preachy I hope we all make sure to examine this past week for it's original meaning, not the madness I witnessed in the Easter candy aisle at Wal Mart tonight.  My thoughts are towards the death, burial and ressurection of Jesus and its importance to me, and I hope you join me in a similar train of thought.

Thanks for reading, next time Im gonna discuss some stuff that I get asked all the time.  Especially that most frequent of questions, "How do I get on the cover????"  Stay tuned.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Double-Edged Sword

I figured that this blog would be a good way for me to discuss some things in short form that I am observing in the sport of pulling.  One issue that I has me perplexed is the idea of the top cut tire in "Farm Stock" classes.

The issue at hand is pretty clear to everyone, how do you police cut tires in a non-cut tire class?  For some clubs its become very apparent that the best enforcement is not to worry about it, to allow top cuts from top to bottom in the classes offered.  Other clubs have made it a point to keep the uncut tire classes and endure the issues of possible "tampering" with some sets of tires in the classes.

As for me, I see both sides of the issue, and see that both sides have valid points.  "Top cuts level out the playing field, and the cost to top cut is pretty cheap"  is one thought I hear.   "Allowing top cuts in an entry level class can discourage someone who is just getting started in the sport"  is another thing I hear.  And honestly, I think both sides are right----to an extent.

So how do you fix it?  One thought I have is that clubs that allow top cuts in their entry level classes should, in the course of a season, offer a true "barnyard" class from time to time.    This would be tractors that are not "regulars" to a club.  no forward hanging weights, only factory weights, everything as bone stock as possible.  Is this the best idea ever? Of course not....but we gotta start somewhere.

I am of the opinion that we have to get folks involved to keep this sport rolling and growing.  Anything that sets them up for failure (the old bringing a knife to a gunfight idea) will do one of two things: send them away wanting to do better by investing in their machines or discourage them because they see the folly in trying to compete in farm stock with, of all things,  a farm stock tractor. 
What are your ideas?  What works where you pull?  Where does farm stock end and modified begin?
Let me know your thoughts.  I wont pretend to have the answers to these questions, but its time to have discussions about the sport to make it grow.  Lets go pulling.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Why I do What I Do....

For my initial entry on this blog, I figured I’d give everyone an idea as to why I do what I do, the why and the how about becoming the Editor and Publisher of The HOOK Magazine.

It began 34 or so years ago at the Hardin County Fair in Elizabethtown, Kentucky.  I grew up in my early childhood in Elizabethtown, and my father was involved for many years in the farm equipment business.  My first toy it seems was one of those 1/12th scale Ford tractors and a Big Blue wagon (some of you remember these, some of you don’t).  Somewhere there’s a picture floating around of me in that wagon as a newborn. 

So, at that fair I witnessed my first tractor pull.  While I have just a few memories of it, they are certainly vivid.  I remember a 190 Allis that was pulling with mag rims on the front, and a 1206 IH that broke away from the sled, which was a weight transfer sled as I remember it. 

Flash forward a few months to the National Farm Machinery Show.  This time, it is a 4020 John Deere that broke from the sled that I remember, funny how that stuff sticks with you.  Those were my earliest memories.  I spent the next 10 years or so going to local county fair pulls and the Farm Machinery Show.   Friends of my family were pullers, from antiques up through Super Stock. 

Once I was old enough to drive, I was able to feed my need to go pulling a little easier.  Once the chores were done on Friday or Saturday afternoon, I was gone if there was a pull within reasonable distance of my home. 

I have always been a devoted follower of NTPA level tractor classes.  The changes in the Super Stock classes in the early nineties were amazing to me, as the alcohol-fueled tractors began their rise in the sport.   Along that same time, at a pulling event held at the Western Kentucky University Ag Expo Center I found a renewed interest in another sector of the sport, antique pulling.  My most vivid memory is that of the Olivers in attendance and their 6-cylinder song as it bounced of the ceiling and the walls of the arena.  For me, it was music and beautiful music to my ears.

Somehow life gets in the way though.  School and ultimately work pushed pulling to the back burner for me for a few years.  I kept a decent tab on what was going on, but in no way would I have considered myself a well-rounded fan.  The odd pull here and there were on my docket, just enough to get me by.  Then along came the internet. 

The internet became for me, like many of us, a means to close in the distance between us to see and hear about events.  With the internet came the message board, and I was ablaze on them early on.  Admittedly early on my comments were not very well crafted but I soon remembered how well I liked writing from when I was in High School and College.  Someone else noticed too, a gentleman by the name of Tom McConnell. 

I met Tom at a pull in Henry Illinois in 2003 and I approached him about doing some writing.  He  said sure, but you’ll have to learn how to use a camera too if you want to work for me.  The next week I found myself alongside a track in Danville, Kentucky with a borrowed camera.  The rest they say, is history.

Those first couple of years led to work on all kinds of tracks, be it “hot” stuff or antiques.  After Tom’s organization disbanded, I moved on to working with Dana Marlin with The HOOK and The Puller magazine. I did this along with being a teacher and FFA advisor. 

In late 2009, I began to become concerned about what  had become my passion, writing for The HOOK.  Having had several heart-to-heart conversations with Dana and Roger, it became apparent that their ability to serve the readership wasn’t what they wanted and I stepped in to help.  To this day I am amazed as to how it all got done with the demands they had on their lives.  Shortly thereafter a transition of ownership plan began to emerge, and that was the moment I stepped into the YTMag website Tractor Pulling Message Board and said, “What can I do to make it better?”

What I heard was a variety of things.  I knew though that if I listened and took note of those concerns that happened to be running themes, it would get better, and it began to.  By June, I believed I could make a go of it, and I knew that I couldn’t teach and run a magazine at the same time.  I owed the kids I taught everything I could give, and if I had continued on as I had, my contribution to them would have suffered.  Therefore, I submitted my resignation to my school principal and haven’t looked back. 

If I had any obstacles that I faced early on, it was the fact I couldn’t make as many antique hooks as I had wished, even with a significant number of clubs nearby.  I had committed myself  to other groups and when I tell someone I’m going to do it, I do it. 

Once Fall settled in, things began to change and emerge.  I took over control of The HOOK on October 4th of 2010 in full, and a van full of back issues and supplies were brought back home to Bowling Green, Kentucky.

That brings us to now.  All in all, I feel very blessed to be where I am now.  I am blessed to have a supportive family and tight knit group of friends.   I look forward to attending pulls of all kinds, and the friends I have made along the way have been fantastic. Ultimately I do everything I do because I am devoted to the sport and look at the magazine from the eyes of the subscriber, not as the editor.  In reality, I may sign the checks, but you all, the subscribers, own the magazine, not me.   I am committed to keeping The HOOK as an antique and classic-focused magazine with coverage of “hot stuff” as an addition to the magazine, not taking away from the roots of what the magazine is.  I hold the history of the magazine and what it has been to a number of readers in reverence and pledge to make the magazine better than it ever has been.  As I write this the 19th edition of the magazine is about to get put together, and I look forward to many more editions. 

Thank you to everyone for your time and support.  I hope to use this blog as one more means to promote the sport and generate discussion about issues that the sport faces today and tomorrow, on any number of levels.  Please join me on the journey, it won’t always be smooth, but it will always be interesting.  Lets go pulling!