A Half Century at Full Throttle:  Celebrating the Championship Tractor Pull’s 50th Anniversary

A Half Century at Full Throttle: Celebrating the Championship Tractor Pull’s 50th Anniversary

By on 10/10/2017


The Championship Tractor Pull has a rich history, from the first pull in 1969 to present day, with each year bringing new classes, safety innovations and half a century of thrilling high-powered competition. For 50 years, tractors have screamed down the dirt track, slamming into the man-made beach in front of the bleachers of Freedom Hall.

Here’s a look at some of the hallmark moments in Championship Tractor Pull history:

  • Sixty-six tractors competed in three classes (5,000, 10,000 and 15,000 pound tractors) in the first Championship Tractor Pull in 1969.
  • The first truck class (6,000 lb. 4WD trucks) was added in 1977. This addition helped the pull sell out for the first time in pull history, when more than 64,000 fans attended the four-day event.
  • In 1980, Dan Cris
    tiani began building, repairing and removing the dirt track for the Championship Tractor Pull. He and his crew are still making and maintaining the championship dirt track today.
  • Numerous safety changes have taken place throughout the pull’s forty years. The drivers’ attire now consists of fireproof suits and racing helmets. Freedom Hall underwent a major renovation in 1984, providing much improved lighting and ventilation – as well as new scoreboards and additional seating. Kill switches were initiated by WBHM at the Championship Tractor Pull, and neutral lights, which indicate whether or not the pulling vehicle is in gear, were also added.
  • In the late 1980s, Jerry Baird developed a measurement system using laser beams and a computer program to accurately record the distances pulled.
  • Lisa Tatum from Bardstown, KY broke the gender barrier in 2003 to become the first woman to win the title of Grand Champion, pulling 234.70 in the finals.

Do you have photos, stories and memorabilia from past Championship Tractor Pulls? We’d want to feature them in next year’s 50th anniversary souvenir program, social media, website and more!


Share your:

  • Favorite memories: email or mail a sentence or several paragraphs
  • Photos: mail original photos — this is preferred — but you can also email high-resolution digital files
  • Memorabilia: mail programs, hats, banners and other collectables for display cases

Send emails to: communications@kyvenues.com.

Send mail and packages to:

Attn: Elena O’Bryan
Kentucky Exposition Center
Communications Department
937 Phillips Lane
Louisville, Kentucky 40209

Make sure to include your name, mailing address, phone number and email address.