WAUSEON, OhioMention motorsports and, understandably, most people would probably think of NASCAR, the Indianapolis 500, or superstar drivers the likes of Mario Andretti and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
For Ed Miller, president, and his team at Wauseon-based M.E. Miller Tire Co., it's all about tractor pulling.
And yes, you can use tractor pulling and motorsports in the same sentence.
Miller Tirewhich, according to its website, has been serving rural America since 1970has been sponsoring tractor pulling activities for more than 35 years, including a tractor pulling event at the Fulton County Fair in Ohio. About 15 years ago, the dealership became the major sponsor of the pull, which then officially became known as the M.E. Miller Tri-State Showdown.
The Fulton County Fair's website describes the event as the No. 1 National Tractor Pullers Association Regional National Tractor Pull of the Year for 11 years straight, as voted on by the pullers.
This year's event is set for Sept. 4-10. Mr. Miller told Tire Business he and his staff are active in the event, including handing out trophies on stage to the winners of each class.
According to an online source, truck and tractor pullingalso known as power pullingis a motorsport competition, popular in the U.S., Europe (especially in the Netherlands and Germany), Australia and Brazil. It requires modified tractors to pull a heavy sledge, or sled, along a track that is 35 feet wide and 330 feet long, with the winner being the tractor that pulls the sledge the farthest. The sport is known as the world's most powerful motorsport, due to the multi-engined modified tractor pullers, the website said.
Besides sponsoring the Tri-State Showdown, Miller Tire also sponsors the Holman Brotherstwo local siblings who participate in four-wheel-drive pick-up truck pulling.
They won more championships with the single vehicle than anybody else ever has, Mr. Miller said.
Miller Tire started sponsoring the Holman Brothers 12 years ago. According to the company website, Jim and Paul Holman are the most successful four-wheel-drive pulling team in the sport of truck and tractor pulling.
Pulling their way to victory with a modified 1960 Chevrolet truck named 4 Play since 1985, the brothers are, to date, 12-time Grand National Champions.
Along with their Grand National Championships, the brothers are the only pulling team to have competed in every Enderle Pull-Off since its inception, the website claims. gaining them the 25th Anniversary Enderle Pull-Off Appreciation Award in 2011.
Paul Holman is a farmer and Jim Holman is a mechanical engineer, and each lends his vocational expertise to the team.
We relate to the farm and the tractor pulling and that kind of stuff. It just kind of goes hand in hand, Mr. Miller said.
Nearly two-thirds of Miller Tire's business comes from agricultural tires. These pullers are our customers, he said. They pull for points, just like drivers in NASCAR. Everyone who follows the sport follows their favorite all year long, hoping they are going to get the most points.
He added that sponsoring the Holman Brothers gets pretty exciting.
For independent tire dealers with an interest in motorsports, tractor pulling is a much more feasible way to get involved, Mr. Miller noted.
It's a small market, but it's one that individual tire dealers could get involved with, Mr. Miller said.
Whether it's sponsoring a local pull, or sponsoring a local puller. We are never going to be able to get involved in NASCAR or Indy or anything like that.
There are different competitions for tractor pulling, including antique tractor pull-ing and garden tractor pulling, the latter being the least expensive to get involved in, Mr. Miller added.
In addition to tractor pulling, we also custom cut tires for tractor pullers, he said.
Jeremy Miller, Ed Miller's son, takes tires and customizes the tread design for competition pulling. His work includes machine-cut pulling tires for modified tractors, antique tractors, two and four-wheel drive trucks, garden tractors and mini rods and new and used tire cutting and sharpening.
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