By VAN HOLLAND
PINETOPS – With the threat of rain during the weekend, it put a little damper on the Pinetops 300 Tractor and Truck Pull attendance. Friday night there was a large crowd in attendance, but not the amount it has been the last several years. There was 500 less people in attendance Friday then there was a year ago, but it didn't stop the pullers from slinging mud everywhere. The fans in one section even had a chance to see what it looked like when a belt breaks on a fine tuned machine. During the Mini Modified run, Thomas Coleman, of Stoneville, had a belt break on his KB 526 Pure Hell ride and the belt slung into the crowd. No one was injured.
In the 37 years since the event originated in 1977, they have never had a rain out. It has rained while they were pulling, but they have never cancelled the event.
Chester Lancaster said the threat of rain slowed them down this year with attendance and they didn't have quite as good of a year as they have in the past. But he said everyone that attended enjoyed themselves and saw some good pulling both nights.
"We didn't get rained out, but with the threat of rain it slowed us down," Lancaster said. "Numbers were down this year, because we were short about 500 people on Friday night and more then that on Saturday. The crowds were just really off because of the threat."
The event got started 30 minutes late Friday night, because the track was muddy. There had been too much water put on the track earlier in the day so they had to get some special equipment to come and smooth the track out and remove the heavy layers of mud before they could get started. After the late start, the event didn't end until after 3 a.m.
"We pulled just like we always do even with the rain that was all around us," Lancaster said. "It didn't effect us and the show went on as scheduled."
The money that is raised goes to the South Edgecombe Fire Department, but Lancaster said that is with the help of some of the churches, boy scout groups, Lion's Club and other organizations in the community that help any way possible to make sure the event is successful.
"It is just a good community event and it stretches further then just the fire department," Lancaster said. "We get help from community organizations and that makes a difference."
Lancaster said he can't think of another community event that brings more people together in the county than the Pinetops 300.
"It is just a real good time with everyone coming together and enjoying themselves," Lancaster said. "I am a big player in the event, but we have several members in the committee that help head the event up and that have been involved longer then I have."
Lancaster, who has been involved with the pull for 26 years, said it is just a good, fun event to be involved in. He enjoys putting the pieces together every year to make it happen so the community can have a place to have family fun.
Lancaster and his department began preparing for next year's event Sunday.
"We start preparing the day after the event," Lancaster said with a laugh. "We really crank up real hard around January."
He said they began Sunday preparing on what they can do next year to make the event even better. He was glad that the people that came this year were out there to support the department and without them he said it wouldn't be possible.
After the event started, the crowd was excited from the first pull until the last one. With the roar of the load engines the pullers put on a show for the crowd. When the pullers were done with their pulls, they gave the fans a chance to go back in the pit area to see the tractors and trucks up close and personal.
Randy Davis, of Taphannnock, Va., won the Modified class with Running Bear. He pulled 323.050, which was the longest pull of the night.
John Strickland, of Clinton, won the Super Stock event with Galot. He pulled 310.775. Ken McDonald, of Red Springs, won the Super Farm event with Red Mule. He pulled 308.150. Peyton Davis, of Taphannnock, Va., won the Four Wheel Drive event. He pulled 316.125 with The Young Gun. Larry Flood, of Rocky Mount, won the Mini Mod pulling 321.440 with Test Point.