Yankee Ingenuity

Yankee Ingenuity

If there is any characteristic that is typically American, it is “Yankee ingenuity.” No group of individuals is more reflective of this characteristic than American farmers, who are the most avid participants in pulling. Farmers, a self-employed lot, have always had by virtue of necessity to “do it themselves.”Why should pulling be any different? The Bosse brothers, who adopted the crossbox to pulling, are only the most well-known examples. They loved to tinker and build things. Part of this “can-do” spirit may be explained by the “homegrown” nature of the sport. Early participants were forced to do all their own “manufacturing” because what they wanted to do to their vehicles wasn’t commercially available. They couldn’t buy parts to “soup-up” their tractor because what they were doing to their tractors went beyond its stock nature. As a result, everything had to be homemade. And look at the Modified vehicle. Before participants invented it, that vehicle did not exist. This vehicle had to be “invented” from the ground up.

This need spawned in time a cottage industry, peopled by folks who were mechanical geniuses and had a great reservoir of Yankee ingenuity.Yet as with any skill over time, some folks became better at it than others, specialization set in, and eventually businesses were born and thrived. Some ended up building chassis, some cut tires, and others transmissions and rear ends, while still others became experts at building turbochargers, the devices that make it possible for today’s Super Stock tractors to attain 1800 horsepower, compared to today’s stock tractor off the assembly line that produces in the range of 125–150 horsepower. Whereas participants in other motor sports most likely got parts “off-the-shelf,” each participant in pulling was forced to be his own factory, using his lathe and other specialized equipment to custom-make parts. The Allison engine offers the best example of this phenomenon. They stopped factory production of the Allison engine at the end of World War II, yet they play a big role today powering Modified vehicles. Some participants have gone so far as to build specialized tools just to work on these antiquated engines. That is perhaps carrying “can do” to an extreme. Still, this “do-it-yourself ”attitude is a source of intense pride as participants almost get more of a thrill out of building the vehicle and the parts than what the vehicle does on the track.As time goes on, this “do-it-yourself ”trend is changing, but it is still the rule rather than the exception.

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