Rev up your RPM’s and start pullin’


My sister tells this story from her last year of high school: That year, the prom was on the same night as the tractor pull and these choices presented a real dilemma to some. You see, every year the town of Brooklin has a good ol’ country fair. The small town is eight kilometres north of Whitby and is currently being subsumed by the northward ooze of StyrofoamTM housing. I believe the town is technically part of Whitby, but Brooklinites are a proud breed. And these ones didn’t even lose the Dodgers. This fair comprises your typical fair fare: rides whose nausea inducting powers are two-fold—gravitational and structural; food that flies off the top rope to drop-elbow your guts; and oodles and oodles of teens exuding there brand of sexual tension—girls teasing boys, boys punching other boys on the arm and girls shouting to other girls “Hey bitch!” To boot, there’s also a real, mother f#*kin’ tractor pull. You can see why some of the Brooklin boys from my sister’s graduating class were conflicted.

This story piqued Martha’s and my interest. We were excited that our sojourn in the ‘Bee would offer us the chance to see this cultural event. But alas, the only time we could go to the fair was on the Friday of its four day run. And alas, we would miss the tractor pull because everyone knows that events where there is the burning of much gasoline and alcohol at high decibel levels happen on SUNDAY! SUNDAY! SUNDAY! Still, we decided that we should attend the fair as disinterested anthropologists. We thought we’d rope Elif into this thing too.

Matthew moves to the phone to call Elif. Martha heads to the computer to find the Brooklin Spring Fair web site. They need to find out what’s happening on Friday. Hopefully, they’ll find something that will entice Elif.

“Hey, I’m going to put this thing on speaker. We can both talk to Elif. It’ll be so fun,” says Matthew, a simple soul who’s easily amused by phones, single socks, bent paper-clips and elastic bands.

“Umm, humm,” says Martha, who knows it’s better to just go along with these things. It avoids the screaming and the tears.

“Hello. Is Elif there,” says Matthew in the manner of an American tourist speaking to a French waiter.

“Hey Elif, what are you doing tomorrow?”

“Nothing.” This is Whitby don’t forget.

“We’re going to the Brooklin Fair. Wanna come?”

“Well, I—”

“Holy shit Matt! The tractor pull is tomorrow!” Martha yells after clicking through the fair’s schedule.

“Matt, what was that?” asks Elif.

“Mar just found out that the tracker pull is tomorrow. Isn’t that wicked!”

“Well, I—”

“It starts at seven tomorrow,” says Martha.

“Okay, Elif we’ll be by your place at 6:30.”

“What? Matt why what’s going on—”

“We can’t be late for the TRACTOR PULL,” says Matt, his face turning blue as he employs that frustrated-whiny lilt that is used to great effect by twelve year-old girls.

“Uh, okay.”

“Wicked see you then.”

We also got Caitlin, who caught the GO train and arrived at the Whitby station at 6 o’clock. Then a stop at the drug-store for earplugs. Elif’s. Then no stops ‘til Brooklin.

We took a spot on in the bleachers amongst the fans at the 200 feet mark: a couple with a pack of du Mauriers stuffed in the baby carriage, boys with long floppy shirts down to their knees and blue lips from their snow-cones, older boys with ball caps sporting the logos of motor oils and after-market car parts; girls who look like they got lost on their way to the meat-market club; men, who were men because they had leather pouches on their belts carrying multi-tools or cell-phones. And families, loads of families.

The track was 400 feet of packed dirt with low concrete barriers lining the sides. The MC of the event, whose name I never got, was masterful as the master of ceremonies. He was full of all sorts of information from Ontario laws and regulations governing highway tractor-trailers to the history of the Hemi engine in relation to drag racing and pulling. His colour commentary was also excellent with such gems as “…and the twin stacks are starting to bark” and “…she’s taken the hook with a good bite on the ground” and “don’t worry folks, all the mosquitoes have been checked for West Nile Virus so go a head and let’em bite ya.”

There were four classes of tractors that would be pulling. Each machine in each class would pull this huge contraption called the Executioner, a sled (a they call it) which increases the resistance on the tractor as it hauls down the track. The dude who gets farther than the others wins. If two or more drivers make it to the end, then, as our MC said, “We’ve got a full pull and we move on to a pull off.” This means the full-pullers get to drag the Executioner down the track a second time.

The first series of pulls featured highway tractors, you know, those things hauling trailers of important goods across the country, like beer and Canadian Tire products.

“[Pulling’s] a great way to get rid of your warranty. He can get [his tractor] fixed anywhere he wants after tonight,” our MC said.

“They’re rippin’ on the road, they’re rippin’ on the track and they’re rippin’ in the fields.” I think he was talking about the highway tractors, but I’m not sure what he meant by “rippin’ in the fields.” Sounded cool nonetheless.

The next series was the Stock 4×4’s, which were anything but off the rack. I think only the bodies were original and the rest was suped up beyond highway regulations.

As we watched, some locals behind us made fun of two other guys dressed up as cowboys.

“Look at the belt-buckle. Like, where are yer spurs, buddy?”

The next set featured 2 Wheel Drive Modifies. These were trucks that had huge back tires and engines that burned alcohol and spat flames. They were frickin’ loud too.

“Remember to cover yer ears folks. And if you’ve got kids, cover their ears first. We want everyone to be safe. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, if you don’t know there’s a pull going on in Brooklin tonight, you’re either dead or deaf. I can just imagine all those folks in Scarborough right now wonderin’ where the thunder is coming from.”

We also got a lot of information from the dad behind us who had to explain things to his seven year-old son.

“Dad, why don’t they drive back to the other end like the other trucks?” said the boy as tractors hauled the 2 Wheel Drive Modifies back to the starting line for the pull off.

“It’s too expensive to burn all that fuel just to get back.”

We also found out that the engines get so hot that the drivers only run them for the minimum amount of time. That means no more than two pulls a night.

One driver came from a long line of pullers.

“His father was a puller. His grandfather was a puller.”

Hey Beavis. He said ‘puller.’ I think we were the only ones giggling at the onanistic innuendo. Imagine the fits of snickers produced by “full-pull” and “no more than two pulls a night.”

The ultimate series was the Multi-Engine Modified. That’s right, these suckers had a maximum of three engines on them. Actually, one contestant had to remove his fourth [!] so that he could compete. These things were cool. They ran hotter and louder and their front wheels lurched into the air higher than the vehicles of the previous class. The first driver piloted a tractor with a V12 Allison engine, off of a WWII fighter plane. This guy’s machine went up and down and side to side down the track. I thought he’d crash. We all had to admit, it was pretty cool.

Elif and I left after the second driver’s heat. Martha and Caitlin said the sound from the machine rumbled them around a bit over in the beer tent. Our new found need for speed took us to the carnival rides. The Ferris wheel was just crazy enough for Elif and I. Martha and Caitlin needed more so they hit the Zipper, an old standard made by the Chance [!] Manufacturing Company of Wichita, Kansas. It was a ride they both described as ‘transcendental.’ For the rest of us, that means nauseating. Caitlin won the champ award because of her showing that night. Her dinner was a bag of Doritos, a serving of dripping fair fries and two beers. Then she went on the Zipper. She wasn’t quite right until she had a good late night viewing of the Wrath of Khan and a good night sleep.

Here’s to the fair.

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