Northern Wyoming Daily News - Serving the Big Horn Basin for over 100 years

By Tracie Mitchell
Staff Writer 

Almost 50 years of tractor pulls

 

July 28, 2017

Tracie Mitchell

Black Bart Pulling Tractor owner and driver Jack Miller and crew chief Jay Richard attempt to attach a slipper clutch to the motor they are building for Black Bart in Miller's shop Monday afternoon.

WORLAND – Worland resident and owner/ driver of the pulling tractor "Black Bart," Jack Miller has been pulling tractors for almost 50 years, attending pulls in Canada and California and the first tractor pull in Worland around 1970.

Miller stated the first tractor pull that he went to was in Torrington, years before the first tractor pull in Worland. There he saw his first modified tractor and was hooked. He returned home and built his first single motor pulling tractor, Black Bart. "He built it all, from the rear end to the frame to the fuel tank and everything in between," Black Bart crew chief Jay Richard said.

Over the years Black Bart has had many transformations; starting with a single engine, then twin engines, then twin blower motors, which he ran for many years and then in 2006 three motors, Miller said.

Black Bart is once again being transformed for the upcoming tractor pull Saturday at the Washakie County Fairgrounds. Miller stated that he has moved all three of the motors forward about five inches and taken the time to rebuild all three of them. He explained that two of the motors are 510 cubic inch motors and the third motor is 572 cubic inch motor. "More cubic inches, more power," he said.

Richard added that the three motors give about 4,000 horsepower total and that it takes 10 gallons of methanol alcohol to go 300 feet.

Black Bart weighs about 8,000 pounds and will be competing against other tractors in the same weight class, regardless of the number of motors, Saturday. "A lot of them have four motors, some of them have three, some of them two and some even have one motor and they get kind of fussy when you say three motors against a one motor tractor but basically it's a weight situation, whatever you want to do for weight, that's what you are supposed to have," Miller said.

Miller travels around the country competing in tractor pulls and has won many times, but he doesn't do it for the money or the trophies that used to be given out. Miller said that it's the camaraderie and his love of the challenge that keeps him going. "I work real hard to get this thing going but when I get there I get to see so many people that I really enjoy and I know them," Miller said. "It's more of a hobby. You're making enough money to make a few parts and pieces but that's about what it amounts to. This is a toy. I know a lot of people say, 'How can you do that?' It's my toy and that's what I want to do," he added.

The first tractor pull in Worland had a few modified tractors and about 30 different farm tractors that ranged from little farm tractors to enormous ones. "I can remember when I was a kid, I can remember them in the parade and they would be lined up all the way down Main Street and they would pull all afternoon and into the evening," Richard said.

While the tractor pull is still popular with mini-rod tractors, trucks and farm tractors of all shapes and sizes, Miller has noticed that over the years the popularity of modified pulling tractors has slowly faded away. "Years ago when we first started tractor pulling here we had about six single engine tractors that were built right around here in Worland and they had them for a couple years and then after a while, I don't know, they just got tired or didn't go across the country like we did, so they just quit running," Miller said.

Richard added that he thinks that the amount of money needed and the amount of work required is what has reduced the interest in modified pulling tractors.

Miller and Richard's advice to anyone interested in competing in tractor pulls is have a good sponsor, be able to accept a challenge and a lot of hard work, make good connections and don't try to start out too big. "You're not going to make a living doing it and if you get to where you aren't competitive, you'll either need to grow with it or get left behind," they said.

The tractor pull is 6 p.m. Saturday at the Washakie County Fairgrounds and is the main opening event for the Washakie County Fair "We should have competitors from all over; Montana, North Dakota, Wyoming, Utah and Idaho," Richard said.

"Bring your ear plugs; we don't baby these things, so we're going to be going wide-open."

 
 

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