It’s NASCAR, but for tractors.
That’s how Cody Shay of Shannon City described his tractor pulling hobby.
“They have antique tractor pulls, where they pull out the old ones. We’re way different than that,” Shay said. “We’re a lot more horsepower, for one, so we’re spinning tires and blowing lots of smoke. Everything’s way overdone. … It’s like comparing NASCAR to the car you pulled in here. ... There’s lots more to it. Our deal is way more sophisticated.”
Shay, 42, and his crew travel all over to participate in tractor pulls.
“We traveled about 10,000 miles this summer pulling that thing around with the semi and trailer, and going to different shows,” Shay said.
He participated in Adair County Fair’s tractor pull Thursday, as well as in other pulls in Texas, Iowa, Missouri, Wyoming and Nebraska.
“Probably the biggest pull that we got invited to was out in Louisville, Kentucky, in Freedom Hall, which was where the Louisville Cardinals always play basketball at,” Shay said. “Which might not seem like a big deal, but you pull in front of a packed crowd, like 15,000 or so.”
Shay was invited to the pull in Louisville in 2012, something he described as “the granddaddy” of tractor pulls. He was named Rookie of the Year for the pull in Louisville.
“We’ve been pretty fortunate to pull all over the Midwest,” said Shay.
Shay’s tractor was handcrafted in Tennessee.
“You know, they’re just all aftermarket stuff,” said Shay. “That’s what people ask me, ‘What’s original on that tractor?’ I’m like, nothing.”
Nothing on the tractor is bought from local stores like John Deere; every part is handcrafted component material. It was built from scratch to Shay’s design; the tractor has many safety precautions. Shay compared building the machine to what Orange County Choppers does with motorcycles.
Shay’s tractor weighs 10,000 pounds and has 2,500 horsepower, where a common tractor weighs 5,000 pounds and has approximately 200 horsepower. The tractor is equiped with a roll cage and fire extinguisher, and Shay is required to wear a fire suit while participating in pulls.
The tractor runs approximately 30 mph and can pull approximately 40,000 pounds. It has a larger cubic-inch motor, and a larger turbo charger, but otherwise Shay said it is not different compared to a regular tractor.
“I grew up on a farm, so of course there were tractors,” Shay said. “So, what I did first was I took one of the local farm tractors ... down to the county fair. And, it was kind of a neat deal because I put it in super low gear because I didn’t know what I was doing, and I actually won the first one I was ever in. ... Yeah, it’s kinda one of them things that gets in your blood.”
Shay worked on the tractor and since then, attended more pulls. Eventually, he had his own tractor built for the pulls.
“It just kinda kept growing into a bad hobby, and now we’re into this,” Shay said. “Now we’re dedicated. We travel every weekend. We run for money.”
Shay and his crew travel every weekend from the middle of June to early September. Shay won six events in 2012. He took second and third place a few times, and had a few bad runs, as well.
Through Outlaw, the organization he’s part of, Shay plans to attend events in Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Texas and Iowa this summer. He will pull at Iowa State Fair.
Shay and his crew leave Friday to get to the track a few hours ahead of time to set up. They do the pull that night, work on the tractor Saturday and pull again that night. They head back Sunday morning.
Shay, who built Advanced Ag from scratch approximately 12 years ago, was eventually able to leave on Fridays for the pulls.
“One of the benefits of owning the business is being able to do stuff like this, but I’ve also got my plate surrounded by great people, so now I can go.,” Shay said. “I haven’t done this forever.”