Hillsboro comes together for Annual Charity Tractor Pull
The annual event held at Fireman’s Park in Hillsboro, Wisconsin drew crowds last Friday and Saturday despite threatening weather. Saturday’s fourth session was rained out, finding only some pullers completing their runs.
The pull, a stop on the Lucas Oil’s Pro Pulling League Champion Tour, hammered through two days of pure power mayhem, that drew pullers from California to North Carolina and many states in between.
Among the event drivers, were locals Don Slama for Super Farm Tractors and Fast and Furious (LaValle), Chris Mlsna and Chris Schroeder for Krazy KW (Cashton), Dave Walsh for Walsh Brothers/Simon Sez (Mauston), Scott Nehring for Overload (Reedsburg), Tim Deppe for Old Skool (Baraboo), and William Deppe for Inches Matter (Baraboo).
Toted as Hillsboro’s biggest charity event, Friday afternoon saw the Lions Club rolling up their sleeves, serving the pullers and their families a chicken dinner. The Hillsboro Lions Club plays a vital role in extending the city’s hospitality by serving the meal each year at the charity pull.
In addition to support from local businesses, area residents helped keep the pull running smooth and the crowd fed and hydrated.
Don Slama and his family have made the charity pulling venue a focus of their benevolence, in support of a city that they love and hold dear. Quoted previously, Hillsboro Equipment owner Don Slama said, “We do this for the city and all the residents. It’s our way of giving back and supporting the community. At some time, we all need a little help.”
Highlighting Saturday evening was Slama’s recognition of our nation’s military, specifically Vietnam Veterans. After sharing his upmost respect that he holds personally for the sacrifice our military makes both past and present, Slama recognized Vietnam Veterans; Jerome Von Falkenstein Army Vietnam ‘64- ’65, Herald Pesik-US Army Vietnam ‘70- ’71, and Ho-Chunk Nation Tribal member Richard Snake-US Army Vietnam ’70- ’75.
Afterwards, resident Jaycie Lind carried in the United States Flag riding her horse Snickers, as the Local Boy Scouts held the Wisconsin, United States Army, Navy, Airforce, Marines, and Coast Guard flags, as the Lutheran Church Choir sang the Star-Spangled Banner in acapella.
Saturday evening between sessions, I caught up with a few pullers, getting their take of the event.
Mike Novinger of Shelbyville, Missouri competed in the Unlimited Superstock Class driving a John Deere 7820 called the Dominator Deer, that totes 3 turbo chargers and a truck rear-end producing about 3500 hp. He shared his take on this year’s Charity pull.
“The pull has been really good, except I got disqualified,” Novinger said. When asked what happened, he replied, “I got on the white line on Friday night. I would have been in third place, but I got on the white line and they disqualified me. We have to stay in between the white lines.”
On the event he said, “It’s one of the better pulls in the country. Don Slama and his crew do a really good job putting the pull on. It’s a real nice community. We are staying at Beezers Hotel. It’s a nice place to stay. We are happy to be here.”
Session three found Fairmount, Indiana’s Van Haisley taking first in the Super Stock Super Diesel Truck division, winning the Ronald D. Ott Buckle while driving his 1997 Dodge. While ecstatic on his win, Haisley had a lot to say on the pulling venue.
“The pull here is a well-oiled machine. Don Slama and his crew do a fantastic job, he said, noting the PPL is a class act, and acknowledged to have a daytime pull and a track as nice as it is, which shows a testament that Slama’s crew was working hard.
Haisley continued, “This is two years in a row that I have won an afternoon pull. Normally 4-wheel drive trucks don’t do good in the sunshine, but this truck loves a power track and when it wins, we are on a power track. The moisture was fantastic. Those guys, I know they were a little skeptical about getting a little water because there is a chance of rain today, but man, it was just spot on! The track conditions weren’t quite perfect yesterday, but it was the first day.”
Running Haisley Machines back home, Van gave credence to his eleven employees saying, “Those guys are back at the shop busting their butts and making us money while me and my wife go to these pulls. A testament to us today is, my motors were first and second. What a testament to our shop! They must be doing something right to be able to do that. That means a lot.”
Van stressed that there’s not a better compliment in the world but to get beat by one of your own motors and said, “That means that team is working really, really hard on their truck and chasse, and doing their part as long as we can do our part. That’s great! Look at the amount of people and the rigs here. This is a top-notch organization.”
A heartfelt Haisley said that the Buckle Award, meant more to him and his family than anything they had ever won. “For Don’s daughter Sally to come up here and represent her father, (pausing) we were in tears. It was great!”
Hailing from Ashville, Ohio, Against the Grain’s Cody Hastings took second in the Super Stock Super Diesel Truck division, driving his family’s Dodge. Hasting’s family had a unique dedication to their truck.
Ron Hastings, Cody’s father, said, “The truck was built in memorial of my brother Brett Hastings.” Cody added, “He was a partner on the farm with my dad. He passed away at the age of 38 from a heart attack 22 years ago,” with a solemn look.
Ron and Cody, business partners in Hastings Farms General Partnership out of Ashville, Ohio, raise beef cattle and grains on 4500 acres, and find time to compete.
“I started driving this truck in 2015. I had a gas truck before this but went to this class. I run the PPL Champions Tour and a little bit of NTPA stuff, but mostly the Champions Tour. We travel a lot of the weekends; we don’t run the national for NTPA,” Cody said. He continued, “I’ve always wanted a diesel truck and dad has always wanted to pull a bull and grain. We wanted a truck that could compete up there.”
Cody noted that fellow puller Van Haisley is the one that got him started in the class and stated Haisley encouraged him to go with a truck like this, so that is what he and his father ended up building.
Grateful for the opportunity to pull with his son Ron said, “It’s a very good family meeting. We get to work together and hang together on the weekends. It’s a very rewarding relationship we have, running around and pulling together. We have a lot of fun and have met a lot of great friends pulling.”
“Today went a lot better than yesterday. Yesterday we had a different set of tires on, we never had much luck with them. They kind of bobbled in the rear. I think I got a bad set there. This set here is the one I won the championship with last year. I always seem to have a good pass down the track with these tires. The draw position we got was pretty good and they had the sled set a lot better today than they did yesterday. The track had the right moisture and was tight so it could take the power of our trucks,” Cody said on his pulling.
Overall it is a well-organized event with Cody saying, “It is good that he does a belt buckle in memory of people. Don Slama is a good guy. He always has a good track here. The guys are always in line and keeping the track graded. He’s got a good place to pull at.”
Following up his son’s feelings Ron said, “Don runs a very nice show. It is very rewarding that he’s put that much money up for charity. It’s an awesome place to pull. It’s very organized. There is a very good group of people working at the track.”
The Hastings made clear their gratitude for all the PPL guys that did all the hard work and Slama’s crew for their tireless efforts and dedication to the Charity Pull.
While there was no end to the good feelings toward Don Slama’s family, his crew, and the Hillsboro area residents coming together, making the event successful each year, Slama himself always stresses, “It’s not about me, it’s about the people this helps.”
Due to the rain-out of session four, all paid spectators should keep their yellow admission band. You may present this year’s band for admission to any session at the 2020 Hillsboro Charity Tractor Pull.
For the full pull results visit the ProPulling.com.
For pull highlights on Facebook, visit the Hillsboro Charity Pull 2019 page.