Jobbo must be a good bloke, because he didn’t bat an eyelid when I asked if I could have a crack at piloting the Super Mini Modified tractor he part owns as a part of Team Outlaw.
Team Outlaw itself consists of Kelvin “Jobbo” Jobling, a former Aussie champion puller, as well as Melbourne-based teammates Bob Kinnersley and Kenny Patterson.
So I rocked up to Quambatook – the spiritual home of Aussie pulling – for a bit of a rundown on what’s involved in dragging an 850kg sled 100 metres down a dirt track. Jobbo walked me through it. Firstly, don’t crash. Secondly, don’t back off or the sled will catch you – this can apparently get rather nasty. Thirdly, keep the front wheels on the ground.
I reckon one of the more challenging things about tractor pulling is writing about it without giggling like a schoolkid every time I use the word pull. It’s a sad indictment on my maturity really, but what do they expect when the sport is littered with terms like “full-pull” or “pull-off”?
The tractor itself is named “Hopeful”. It’s a Super Mini Modified and uses a tunnel-rammed, 500hp 383ci Chev stroker for motivation. A 3500rpm stall converter-equipped Powerglide tranny gets those gee-gees to a Toyota Stout diff to turn those beefy competition tyres. In the mini classes a Ford 9-inch is the most popular diff, but it requires a new gear set to get the right ratio for hauling. The old 6.2:1 Stout item is a cheaper way of getting the gearing without going for big dollar components.
I’ve been wanting to have a pull for a while now, so Jobbo let me take Hopeful for a spin bob-tail before having a crack in competition at the Diesel and Dirt Derby in Keith, South Australia. Without a sled on the back these things are a loud, barely controllable riot, and they don’t really have much in the way of brakes. Good thing it was a big paddock. I’ve got this…