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  • Writer's pictureMiles Krieger

Full Pull Recap: Henry, Illinois

Updated: Aug 16, 2023

Recap by: Miles Krieger

July 17th, 2023

The stars rolled into the Marshall-Putnam County Fairgrounds on Saturday, July 15, for competition with the Pro Pulling League Champions Tour.

The annual event on the Champions Tour schedule has become a major focal point for many competitors as they vie for the coveted “America’s Cup”, a beautiful two and half foot tall crystal vase, which is presented by the event to the winner of each class.

With the wicks turned up on their power plants, the competitors were anxiously awaiting their opportunity to unleash the power of America’s Pull. The known power track that requires some finesse to find the proper position out of the whole and finish line has been the host to the legends of the sport for over two decades.

Kicking off the action-packed Saturday evening in Henry, was the ARP Light Weight Super Stock tractors, who completed a Pro Pulling League three-day sweep through Illinois, having competed in Fisher Thursday, and Jerseyville, Friday, before heading to Marshall-Putnam County for day three. Collecting his first ever “America’s Cup” and the second for his family over the years was Bryan Haug, from Centralia, Kansas. Haug had an absolute monster pass down the infield side track, piloting the “Big Temptation” to a distance of 368.39. That distance was the furthest of the class by nearly eighteen feet, over second-place Bobby Jones “Field Sobriety” Case from Pleasant Hill, Illinois. Jones has been the pacesetter this season within the class having claimed top honors at the first five events of the season on the Champions Tour. Behind Jones, finishing solidly in the third position was Todd Maedge out of Marine, Illinois, with the Case “Monkey Mayhem Uncaged”.

While the Light Supers were delighting the fans on the infield side, the Grandstand track had a strong competition building with the 4.1 Limited Pro Tractors. With each passing hook from the first half a dozen competitors, the leader cone moved another couple feet toward the big end of the track. The leading distances would no longer be increasing as Tom Gallitz, set the unattainable distance for everyone else with the ninth hook of the class. Gallitz, of Jefferson, Wisconsin, drove his “Runnin In the Red” International to the front with a distance of 339.62. The red fans of the crowd roared with delight as Gallitz edged out Mark Wells John Deere “For a Few Dollars More” to claim top honors. Wells of Sturgis, Kentucky, held strong for second in the class, with 618 Motorsports Brett Hackstadt grabbing the third podium spot with the team’s tough running Case out of Nashville, Illinois. In total eleven tractors from six different states made the call in the 4.1 Limited Pro Stock class in Henry.

While the winning interviews and presentations of the first “America’s Cup’s” for the weekend were being presented, the SCS Gearbox Mini Rod tractors and ARP Super Stock Diesel 4X4 Trucks took center stage. The minis, just like tradition has been, came to the infield track with a class of fifteen tractors. The early leader in the mini division was Shelbyville, Indiana’s, Grant Theobald. The second-year mini rod driver piloted the “Lil Wicked” entry to a distance of 327.43, and stood comfortably in the lead through the first six tractors of the competition. With the seventh hook, former champion and perennial favorite Bruce Slagh made his way to the lead, besting Grant’s distance by almost ten feet. Not to be denied a win going home to Shelbyville, first-year driver in the mini division, and Grant’s mother Renee Theobald sailed right on past the leader cone behind the wheel of her all new “Pretty Wicked” entry. Renee pulled 346.41, in doing so she collected her first ever Pro Pulling Champions Tour win, as well as the family’s first-ever “America’s Cup”.

The points race is already intensifying through four events of the Champions Tour, with Jeff Hirt sitting as the points leader with the “Lil Bare” entry from Port Clinton. Hirt holds a four-point cushion over Henry runner-up Bruce Slagh “Show No Mercy” and six points over the second Runin Bare Motorsports entry “B Bare” also campaigned by Jeff.

On the ARP Super Stock 4x4 side, Henry was the fourth stop on the Champions Tour points schedule with two sessions of competition being held in Nashville, Illinois, as well as Fisher, Illinois, Thursday night. In Henry, the beautiful “Cream of the Crop” Dodge of Justin Gearhart was the winner with a very impressive winning distance of 330.07, collecting his first crystal vase. From Circleville, Ohio, Gearhart bested Lafayette, Tennessee’s Chase Eller, “Caretaker” Dodge, and Warrenton, Missouri’s, Keith Witt’s “American Pride” Dodge. The battle for second was exactly that, a battle, as Eller and Brady Ingram, doing the driving for Keith Witt on Saturday, were just a few inches apart when all the dust settled pulling 320.57 (Eller) and 320.41 (Ingram).

The final class on the Grandstand track for 2023, was the Lemke Motorsports Pro Stock Tractors. Fresh off the trip to Jerseyville, on Friday, the 10,000-pound monsters were anxious to bring the heat to the track. Grandview, Indiana’s, Kevin Masterson put on quite the display piloting the “River Rat” and “Tinker Toy” tractors to a sweep of the top two positions. Masterson who continues to have an absolutely stellar 2023, left Henry with the points lead in hand with his 6030 John Deere “River Rat”. Behind Masterson in the class, was legendary puller Rob Russell from Prescott, Iowa, aboard his beautiful Case IH, “Work Horse Pro”. Russell with the last hook of the class edged Brandon Simon “Loud and Heavy X” for the final spot on the podium. Masterson’s winning pass was the second furthest of the evening with his tractor coming to a stop at 381.23.

The furthest pass of the day went to the winner of the Mitas Tires Modified Tractor class, Shannon Leischner. Leischner, on board the family’s all-new “Dirtslinger X” had what many would classify as the pass of the day going 386.83 feet for the maiden voyage. With a big grin on his face, as he pulled the helmet off on the big end of the track, Leischner knew it would be very tough for anyone to get by the leader cone marking his distance. One competitor got close, with Shannon’s father, Bill, finishing second with his “Dirtslinger” pulling 379.28. Much like we saw in the Pro Stock class, a team sweep was in full effect for Weldon, Illinois, based Dirtslinger team. Finishing third in the Mitas sponsored class was Tom Owens, driving his “Ramblin Rose” out of Montgomery, New York. Owens triple-powered tractor bested Dave Walsh “4 Aces” for the final podium placing. In total ten tractors made the call in the Modified and set the stage for what is certain to be a fun points race throughout the summer.

The capacity crowd was delighted by the stars of the Champions Tour in Henry. Thank you to the players who logged in to the app for the games around the competition in Henry. The next few weeks will be filled with opportunities, to play again so make sure you come back to for all of your recaps as well as a chance to make your picks.

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