NORTH DURHAM: The Blackstock Truck and Tractor Pull, now in its 36th year, has been an exciting kick off to the summer and a staple for local farmers, gear heads, and residents of all ages since its inception.
This past weekend (July 5 and 6) the pull attracted over 100 pullers from Ontario and as far as Quebec and New York State.
Earle Trewin, who owns and operates Trewin Farm Equipment alongside his brother Lloyd and mechanic Dale McClurg, has been hooked on the sport since 1978.
It began an a fateful day at the Millbrook fairgrounds, Earle's customer and friend Neil Brown entered Earle in the pull without his prior knowledge.
"I had no idea what I was doing, but I said yes and climbed up onto the tractor," says Earle, smiling fondly. "Next thing I knew, I was down the track and forty-feet past everyone else - someone had to chase me down to give me a trophy, I didn't even know I had won."
Earle has pulled down numerous tracks in Ontario over 1,150 times since then, leaving a familiar black smoke behind him the whole way.
"First, we get the engine hot and screaming, to get the turbo charger ready to go," explains Earle, "Once you push the throttle and slip that clutch, it's pure adrenaline - the grey smoke turns black, and the next fifteen seconds feel like a lifetime."
Earle's pride, joy and main workhorse is a 1966 Allis-Chalmers D21 named 'Killer Allis' - which many fans of the sport still recognize from their childhood, and bring their children to watch.
Earle has built three pro-stock tractors over the years. The A-C D21 tractor he calls Killer Allis was originally sold by his father in 1966 to Joel Aldred on Scugog Island. Joel traded the tractor back into them in 1987 and Earle decided to build it into a heavy pro-stock tractor.
Using specialized parts and the collective expertise of his family and friends, Earle turned the fuel sipping farm machine into a high performance five-ton beast.
Starting with a meager 125 horsepower, Earle has assembled a high pressure water injection system and managed to eek over 1,000 horsepower from the motor.
"She used to sip 68 cubic centimetres of fuel per 1,000 piston strokes," says Earle. "Once we got done with it, she would gulp down almost a litre of fuel per 1,000 strokes - something like a gallon per 250-foot-pull."
Earle has always had a strong talent for working with his hands, and all things mechanical - he began welding at age thirteen, and it remains one of his favourite activities in the shop at Trewin Farm Equipment.
"There's a lot of work that all pullers put into their tractors," explains Earle. "Beefed-up and heat treated engine parts, custom built transmissions, in-line fuel pumps and ballistic blankets around the clutch."
These are just some of the many specialized parts which can multiply an engine's horsepower output, and keep it from exploding in the process.
Admitting that Killer Allis runs one of the smallest engines in the heavy pro-stock class is a source of pride for Earle, especially when his tractor often comes in first place - "I don't have a lot of money for expensive parts and horsepower," says Earle. "But I make what I have purr and pull all the way down the track."
Earle is a proud member of the Ontario Truck and Tractor Pull Association (OTTPA) and currently sits as the heavy pro-stock representative - in the past he has taken the roles of vice-president and president.
His wife Marlene has also pulled many times in her life and sits with Earle as Secretary Treasurer of the heavy pro-stock class.
The OTTPA acts as the insurance and safety regulating board for truck and tractor pulls across Ontario, and was formed from a group of localized pulling clubs.
They began with a single page of rules, and have since developed a quarter-inch thick rulebook. The OTTPA schedule has 43 events in Ontario this year.
Earle and many other pullers laude Blackstock as one of the best tracks in Ontario - Earle chalks it up to Graham Duff and his team, who keep the dirt tamped and found the perfect mix of sand, clay and soil for the track.
"It may not be as big as the Lindsay Fairgrounds, but I've got my own cheerleaders and more friends than I can count on that track," says Earle. Rob and Dallas Gardner take care of trucking Earle's tractor to the pulls he attends - all he asks in exchange is Earle's help fixing a broken lawnmower.
Joyce Kelly, matron of the Blackstock pull and treasurer of the OTTPA, held the first meeting of the Blackstock pullers board over her kitchen table in 1978 - and remains an integral part of the committee today.
"Harvey Graham brought this crazy idea back from out west where he saw the pulls," recalled Joyce. "We had a track set up by the next fair, and our first puller went all of six inches - the rest they say, is history!"
Earle and Joyce say they can't wait for the Blackstock Fair and Port Perry Truck and Tractor Pulls this year - and are glad that the sport continues to grow and thrive.
Earle says he is looking forward to the Port Perry event on August 30 at the Port Perry Fairgrounds - and hopes to pull for years to come. He also hopes to see his sons Bradley, 17 and Gregory, 20 take over the Killer Allis in years to come and carry on the legacy, passion and pride of the tractor pull.
We reserve the right to remove any and all comments for any reason. Comments with swearing will be deleted without exception.