RALEIGH — Paul Koontz is hoping the N.C. State Fair is going to be a real drag as fast and far as his tractor can pull the weighted sled behind it.
Koontz, the modified director for the United Pullers of the Carolinas, has been pulling tractors for 12 years and has devoted the entire past year to getting ready for the State Fair.
This event is huge for us because it is the final pull of the year for our state, Koontz said. Aside from being a great family event, it means a lot to the guys who are involved.
A typical tractor built for pulling has from one to three engines depending on the division, a pristine paint job and wheelie bars on the rear to keep the tractor from popping up and flipping over during the pull.
Koontzs machine, dubbed The Joker, has three motors and no actual tractor parts.
The Wilson native has already claimed the top spot in the state points standings and is working toward becoming the National Tractor Pulling Association regional champion.
With it being the final pull, everyone is gunning to be the top dog whether they blow their motor or not, Koontz said. You have all winter to fix your machine after this one, he added with a laugh.
Wayne Lewis, the events coordinator for the United Pullers of the Carolinas, is trailing Koontz in the points standing.
In addition to competing, Lewis will be the announcer for the event. He said the regional contest will have a diverse group of pullers from all over the map.
We have pullers coming from all over the region and even from other countries, Lewis said. Last year we had guys from Canada come down to the event. Well also have females and younger pullers that are always fun to watch.
Outside of watching the event, fans also will have the chance to go down into the pits to meet the drivers and see the tractors theyve built.
Koontz said one of the parts he enjoys the most is having families visit and marvel at his tractor.
Its just one of the most rewarding parts of being at the fair, Koontz said. We always want the youth to enjoy what they see so that theyll get involved and keep the sport going.
Friday and Saturday night tractor pulls have narrowed the field for Sunday afternoons championship final. According to weather forecasts, it should be perfect day for the event sunny with temperatures in the mid to upper 70s.
You can go out there for two or three hours to the fair in the morning, then come watch us and enjoy yourself for a few hours, Koontz said.