Monte Vista Newspaper | The garden tractor pulling contest is slowly approaching
ALMOSA COUNTY – Competitive yard tractor drivers will gather at the Del Monte Gun Club in Alamosa County on Oct. 15 to see who can pull a sled the farthest. Without going over 3 mph, drivers will try to cover as much ground as possible until they can’t move any further.
The competition continues a tradition that the San Luis Valley Antique Iron Club (SLVAIC) started over 22 years ago.
“The first events we held were tractor draws at Ski Hi Park,” noted Jim Clare, club historian, rules writer and active competitor. “We probably had 25 or 30 tractors,” Clare added, pointing out that people came from the Arkansas Valley and other parts of Colorado to show off their antiques in action.
Today at the Del Monte Gun Club on Highway 160 between Monte Vista and Alamosa, Clare explained, “We try to have at least three major events at the track each year.”
With 37 years of experience working for the San Luis Valley Rural Electric Cooperative (SLVREC) and 25 years as a volunteer firefighter, Clare has also helped other organizations and was familiar with creating bylaws and assembling regulations. ‘an advice.
“I helped them put in place the bylaws and procedures to become a 501(3)(c),” Clare said, noting how other members also contributed two decades ago. “Our main intention of becoming a 501(3)(c),” Clare continued, “was maybe to create a museum somewhere.”
The veteran competitor and restoration enthusiast said the group hopes to wrap up an outdoor exhibit on the empty lot across from the Rio Grande County Museum in Del Norte. SLVAIC has previously displayed agricultural implements in the museum, and Clare family artifacts are also on display at the Saguache County Museum.
The Del Monte Gun Club is a designated recreation park area in Alamosa County. In addition to the shooting facilities, the park includes the SLVAIC traction track with spectator seating and exposed ground working and thresher equipment.
“We hope that several people will show up,” Clare anticipated. Separated into at least eight weight categories, older equipment must be manufactured before 1960 to be eligible. Clare said the entry into the world of competitive traction is weaker for garden tractors. “We are trying to get more FFA [Future Farmers of America] and 4-H kids involved.
One of at least four clubs in Colorado, SLVAIC meets once a month at the office of the Colorado Potato Administration Council (CPAC) next to Safeway in Monte Vista. Going back to the roots of the group, the renovation of old equipment to honor antiquity is as much a part of SLVAIC as the competitions and the conservation of the museum. Newcomers are invited to drop by the CPAC office at 7:30 p.m. on October 5 to learn more about the club and upcoming events.
Clare recalls having had over 100 spectators for competitions at Ski Hi Park in the past, but he also added: “Some wives say it’s a bit like watching the grass grow. But an old farmer will say, ‘I was raised on one of them.’
Tractor pulls and drag racing are exact opposites. Before most two-car duels at the Center Drag Races on Leach Air Field in Saguache County this summer, racers spun their tires before reaching the starting line. Tractor pullers, on the other hand, reach their finish line when their tires are spinning and they’re basically stuck.