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McIntire Tractor and Truck Pull is good therapy

By Jean Caspers-Simmet

Date Modified: 07/08/2013 2:45 PM

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MCINTIRE, Iowa — The McIntire Tractor and Truck Pull on Father's Day was good therapy for Steve McCarthy.

On June 16, he and many other farmers had part of their corn and no beans planted because of wet weather.

"This takes your mind off all that," Steve said. "We have a good crowd, good weather, and I'm very pleased with how the day turned out."

Steve is president of McIntire Pullers Inc., a nonprofit organization, that puts on two pulls each summer — the Father's Day pull and one on Aug. 17.

This year's event attracted 145 hooks involving 102 tractors and 43 pickups. The machines included lightweight stock tractors, 4-wheel-drive tractors and hot pickups.

"That's way down from last Father's Day when we had 221 hooks," said Rose McCarthy, Steve's wife and club treasurer. "Maybe part of the reason is because farmers around here are still trying to get their crops in."

Rose said in the 1990s, a tractor pull was held with the McIntire town celebration.

"The town celebration died out, and about seven years ago, a few neighbors decided to start a tractor pull again, and here we are," Rose said. "This is the fourth year on this track."

McIntire Pullers has a five-year lease for the track with land owner Pinicon Farms, Steve said. The McIntire Pullers hauled in clay to provide a solid base and put barriers around the track. They bought picnic shelters from Mitchell County at an auction.

McIntire Pullers is a nonprofit organization with 12 members. Tom Shimek is vice president and Dale McCarthy, Steve's brother, is secretary. McIntire Pullers sells calendars, T-shirts and stickers to raise funds.

All money from the "Gals Gone Wild" class and a portion of the overall proceeds from the pull go to Mitchell County Relay for Life. Profits from the August pull are donated to another charity that the group chooses. The group donates to Riceville Ambulance and the Riceville Fire Department.

The event is free, but Rose walks through the crowd for a free-will collection. The McIntire Action Club runs a concession stand, and the Mitchell County Dairy Trailer sells treats.

"We have lots of farm stock, which means straight out of the field, but we also have plenty of smoke and speed with pickups and modified tractor classes," Rose said. "There are two pull sleds running on the track so something slow and stock ispulling on one and livelier tractors and pickupson the other."

Joe Schlechinger, of Austin, Minn., with Red Sled, and Greg Pronschinske, of Independence, Wis., with Track Patrol provided this year's pull sleds. Announcer Dean Eastman, of Riceville, offers running commentary.

Steve has been tractor pulling for several years. He started with farm-stock tractors and has progressed to some higher horsepower tractors. He owns three pulling tractors.

He likes the competition and camaraderie.

"I can't believe all the people I got to know through this," Steve said. "It's nice to get away and have a little fun."

Jared Gragert, 17, has been in tractor pulls since he was 10. He took first in one of the farm stock classes, and his father, Damon, placed third. Both drove Damon's 880 Oliver. The Gragerts farm at Lime Springs.

"It's fun to pull," Jared said. "We go pretty much every weekend in the summer unless we're in the field."

Jared said the McIntire event is a good pull.

"It's bigger than most other ones," he said.

Ryan Jensen, of Osage, gave the crowd a thrill when he roared down the track with smoke belching out of "the Ryno," an International 966. The tractor is owned by his father, Dennis Jensen. The two Jensens and Ryan's brother-in-law, Clint Brown, pull in Super Farm Class on the NTPA Circuit as Jensen Farms.

They pull in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa.

Brown and Ryan own an IH 1066 they call, "Pure Adrenalin."

"We farm green and pull red because back in the day, red parts were cheaper and easier to work on," Ryan said.

Ryan, 31, does most of the driving. He wears a fireproof suit, shoes and a helmet, and the tractor has many safety features to protect the driver and spectators.

Audrey Lesmeister, of Morris, Minn., drove in the Gals Gone Wild Pickup Class. She dates Dale McCarthy, a McIntire farmer, tractor puller and one of the show organizers. It was her first experience driving in a pull, and she placed fourth.

"I drove a Dodge 4-wheel drive pickup and it was total fun," Lesmeister said. "I was a little hesitant at the start because I didn't know the signal to go, but then I put on the gas. I'll do better next time."