Tough tractor tunes up for title triumph

MOST tractors are built to work.

There are a rare few, however, which are built for play.

Tractor pull is the agricultural answer to car racing, and Quambatook on Easter Saturday is tractor pulling's answer to Bathurst in October.

Carngham father-son team Russell and Stephen Schmidt will take their so-called "super mini" tractor dubbed "Pacman" to Quambatook again this Easter.

While both will drive it - 23-year-old Stephen in two classes, 57-year-old Russell in one - it is son Stephen who owns the custom-built machine.

"Kelvin Jobling and I built 'Inlaw' together. It was built on the chassis of 'Bitza', which was the first mini built in Australia," Russell says.

"I got out of tractor pulling for years because it became too expensive, but I had the picture of Inlaw on the wall. When he was younger my son asked me if we could build a tractor together but I said 'no' because of the cost, so we didn't. 

"But Stephen didn't forget and last year he bought one."

Pacman began life as Greta Eta before being renamed Hulk, and then christened Pacman because of Stephen's love of computers.

The 770kg super mini tractor is powered by a naturally aspirated 5.8-litre Ford V8 which was built by another tractor pull competitor Gary Johnson and puts out 390kW (520 horsepower). 

In tractor pulls the tractors tow a weight transfer sled which gets progressively harder to drag the further it is pulled.

Any competitor which can drag the sled to 100m has completed a "full pull".

There are a wide variety of classes, from vintage and farm tractors, to fully modified trucks and tractors with banks of engines or enormous aircraft powerplants.

Super mini tractors are divided into a number of classes based on the combined weight of tractor and driver. Stephen Schmidt will compete in the super mini 860kg and 890kg classes, while Russell has entered the 920kg class.

"Last year we ended up third in our class. This year we have had some troubles with our auto transmission. It has been rebuilt," Russell says.

"We probably won't be in the points but that doesn't worry us. We're going, to have a bit of fun."

AT A GLANCE

WHERE: Quambatook Tractor Pull Complex, 160km north west of Bendigo

WHEN: Easter Saturday, 1.30pm-10pm

MORE INFO: http://www.austractorpull.com/

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