Feiss Motorsports History

Our pulling history

 

I suppose at the risk of boring you to death I’ll go “way back” to what really got me interested in tractor pulling to start with. 

When I was young my family showed horses much in the same way I now pull tractors, in other words we did it a lot. I remember at one such event there was also a tractor pull going on. It was a tug pull with the old stone boat and at every opportunity I would go over to watch the tractors do their thing. I still remember that the final two tractors were a John Deere G and a Farmall 656 but I can’t recall weather “REEEDDDD” or “GRREEEENNNN” won on that afternoon but I do know that I liked what I was watching. 

Having always liked any kind of machinery and particularly tractors I slowly faded away from the horse scene and got more and more interested in anything that had wheels. I would go to some local pulls but mostly I would go to the state fairs and NTPA events to see what these crazy farmers and such were up to with their pulling tractors. I marveled at the ingenuity of these guys and the things they would do to get more H.P. out of their tractors. I could walk through the pits for hours just looking at these “innovations” that were happening to these tractors. 

I did realize that this type of pulling was way out of my realm so when I got out of school I did what most new pullers do and got me a bone stock tractor and went “PULLING”. It was an Oliver Super 88 and as I said it was bone stock, I started out pulling against the likes of Eddie and Hansel Sullivan, Shelby and Leroy Mason and Les and Anthony Sweeny. These guys weren’t quite “stock” but I had a lot of fun running with them. My very first pull was one that the Sullivans were putting on at Craigs Creek in Warsaw,KY. and Hansel Sullivan was the flagman, wow was I out of my league that day. 

I ran the old Oliver 88 for about two years then I put together an Oliver 880 diesel that was a little more than stock but was still out classed by most tractors on most tracks but again we had a lot of fun doing it. 

I should mention that along about the time that I was getting that first old Oliver ready to go pulling I had asked this girl named Tarry out on a date. We went to a tractor pull on that date and didn’t get home till about 3:00 A.M. and we’ve been together every since. We have been to hundreds of tractor pulls together both as spectators and as pullers. 

So back to the pulling tractors; we had pulled the 880 for about three or four years when life kind of got in the way of tractor pulling. We had two boys and built our home and all of those things that go along with that took priority over pulling. Those years were spent mostly as spectators at some of the bigger events. 

We finally got to a point in life that we thought we could spend some time and money to go pulling again. I had sold the tractor to a fellow employee at the power plant I worked at so I had to start over. I bought the tractor back tore it apart and started building an econo-mod. The funny thing is that when I talked to a local engine builder about an engine I remember telling him that I didn’t want to spend so much money on this thing that I would feel like I had to go out and run it all of the time. Well once it was running I had to go to every event I could find, I just couldn’t seem to stop myself. Even when I would say that I thought I would stay home from an event Tarry would want to know why we weren’t going. Even to the point of her taking it to some events when I had to work. 

We had run this tractor (Wound For Sound) for a few years when we were approached at an event one night by a guy by the name of Tom McConnell. He asked if we would be interested in running for points in an organization he was starting called Bluegrass Pulling. We said we would be interested so long as we didn’t have to drive too far to the events. That just never seems to work out as over the years we just drive farther and farther.

We ran a few years with Bluegrass and won the points each year. I thought that putting Tarry in the seat would be a good way to keep her interested so we built the S’no Farmer tractor for her to drive but she said that she wanted to drive Wound for Sound because she was used to it. I told her that it would have more power and should be a better tractor but she wouldn’t give up her little green tractor. 

Well the new tractor did seem to do better and I still tried to get her to drive the S’no Farmer as it was easier to drive but “no “was always the answer. We went 1 and 2 in the points for the next few years with Tarry beating me out of the top spot one year. We lead the points every year that Bluegrass was pulling our class.

When Tom stopped running the econo-mod tractors we started running with the KTPA and driving even farther to events. We met a lot of great people and had some great times pulling with them. We were usually at the top of the points with KTPA but could never quite get the top spot. One year it came down to the last event and had I pulled 6” more that night I would have forced a tie that I would have won by the number of first for the year. As Tarry always said” that IF word is the biggest word in pulling”.

Some where about this time we were having a lot of problems with the Wound for Sound tractor as we were making to much H.P. for the old 88 rear ends and we just couldn’t keep it together. Tarry broke it at our first event that last year so I told her that I wasn’t going to fix it any more. I don’t think she has ever fully forgiven me for that as she loved that old tractor. We did know of a tractor that I thought I could get bought so we went shopping. We came home with the ”Temporary Fix” as we called it because I had started to build a new tractor but just didn’t have the time to get it done. 

I told Tarry that I didn’t want her to drive this new tractor as we didn’t know how it would act out on the track so she drove the S’no Farmer for the first time and low and behold she commented on how easy it was to drive!

Tarry did like driving the S’no Farmer tractor after her first trip and a win at that and still likes driving it to this day. She doesn’t get much opportunity to drive the S’no Farmer any more as we are so busy with the big tractor and now the truck.

We ran these two EHR tractors for about two years before I was able to get the third tractor going. It is a Ford 4000 rear end with New Holland sheet metal. I ran this tractor with no sheet metal for the first year then for another with no paint. It is amazing to me how much time it takes to get some of this stuff done. The Haywire as we call it did pretty well from the start and was run mostly with KTPA coming very close to winning the points on a few occasions. One year we went to the last event of the year, Tarry couldn’t go so Dennis, Tarry’s cousin, was driving her tractor. We had a problem getting the S’no Farmer started and had to drop it to last in the class. I ran the Haywire tractor which was in second place in the points but only back about two points. I had to get a few tractors between the Danny Lusk tractor and myself. Well as it turned out we got the S’no Farmer going and he got past me by a few inches and not between Danny and so Danny won by 1 point. Had we tied we would have had a pulloff that night. Had I gone about 6 more inches I would have beat two more tractors and won the points, that’s what you call going down to the wire!

We ran three tractors for 3 or 4 years with Dennis driving the Temporary Fix tractor. The Temporary Fix tractor had what we called our spare engine in it so it wasn’t as big or powerful as the engines that were in the other two tractors. We had 482 C.I. engines in the S’no Farmer and the Haywire tractor, the engine in the Temporary Fix tractor was a 454 C.I. engine. It did really well for having a smaller engine and Dennis did a good job of driving it.

I was starting to get the urge to move up to a blower engine and bump up a class. We put a blown 572 C.I. Chevy with an automatic trans into the Temporary Fix tractor at this time. It was at this time that I got involved with Rick Ertel as I had called him to see what he thought of an engine that another puller had for sale. He said it would be an OK engine but he would rather sell me his engine. He and Doug Aulbach run a Mini Rod together and had changed to a lighter engine and needed to sell their cast iron engine. Rick had no idea what he was in for as the next few years evolved. I can be a little hard on engines and he does most of the work on my engines now. More on this subject later.

Their isn’t much chance in our area to run a single engine blown tractor so we had to travel either to IL or TN to run that class. In IL they had a lot of hooks but the closest place to hook was about 4 hours away. TN had less hooks but they also ran the econ-mod tractors so we could both drive if we went south.

We did this for the first year that we had the single blown engine; we didn’t run a lot with the blown tractor but just enough to get the feel for it. We also ran a few times with the BMTPA. This club runs twin blown or three naturally aspirated tractors. We ran pretty well when I could keep it going straight and this was another group that also runs the EHR tractors at the same events so Tarry could do her thing as well.

The next year we wanted to step up to run mostly with the BMTPA so we needed a better chassis and another engine. I talked with Rick and he said that he had heard that Scott Tedder was going to sell his tractor. Long story short; we ended up with the old Mister Twister tractor as well as one of the engines from it. We could run the single engine class as well as the twin blown class with the BMTPA. We had it set up to just remove one engine and change the gear on the transmission.

We had some growing pains but it soon started to come together and the new S’no Farmer Xtreme (SFX) really liked running with two engines. We did very well with it as well as Tarry running the original S’no Farmer. SFX didn’t do well with one engine as we couldn’t seem to get the right gear ratio.

We hooked our first NTPA event that summer at an event in Upper Sandusky, OH. With OSTPA. Then late in the year we also hooked at the NTPA event in Connersville, IN. with HSTPA. This was my first hook at 7500 lbs and still running two engines we were just happy to get down the track and not do anything stupid.

The following year we stepped up the program one more time and added the third engine to SFX. We kept the straight rotor blowers on the front two engines so we could still run with the BMTPA. We had a good year with the BMTPA as we won most of the pulls we entered, the NTPA was a different story as we struggled when we ran with the NTPA RN2 tractors they were pretty hard on us but we learned something at every event we entered and we got better as time went on.

Tarry was still running the S’no Farmer as time allowed but that was getting harder and harder to do. Dennis, Tarry’s cousin, was taking the econo-mod tractors to events throughout KY while we took the SFX tractor to OH, IN, and MI. Dennis did this for about three years total. It was about this time that I started talking with Tarry about her running a TWD truck but she was not hearing any of that nonsense.

The next year things started to come together with both the driving and the engine program on the SFX tractor and we had a pretty good year with two or three second place finishes as well as second in NTPA’s RN2 and HSTPA points.

 

The Hemi Era Begins

 

I had at this point been talking with the Sullivans about some Hemi engines as they wanted to step up their program. We talked every once in a while but nothing ever came of it until this winter. We made a deal to buy two engines complete hat to pan and start making the switch to Hemi power. A lot of people don’t like it when people make this switch but for me it was just an opportunity to step up the program and I’ve never had this Hemi allergy that some Chevy guys seem to have. I still like both type of engines and still run the Chevy’s on the Econo-Mod tractors.

We ran two Hemi’s and one Chevy on SFX the next summer and the tractor was working very well. We got our first wins with NTPA with this setup on the tractor and had a very good year with the exception of the fact that we broke three Chevy engines very badly. We got through the summer and had hoped to be able to sell the Chevy engines but I pretty much had used them up by summers end.

I suppose now would be a good time to talk about the involvement with Rick Ertel. Rick had helped me with my first blower engine as he had sold me some heads a few years before to use on an Econo-Mod engine then a few years later sold me the short block for my first blown engine. During our work getting the engines and tractors running Rick had tried to talk me into going with three engines and running the State and RN events. I was slow to come around to doing it but Rick had mentioned that he would be my crew chief if I did it; HE HAD NO IDEA WHAT HE WAS IN FOR!!! I don’t think Rick fully realized how hard I could be on tractor parts and how many events we would try to go to.

Rick has been an important part of our team and at times is more dedicated than I am. Doug Albach also fell into the trap of being on our team and does most of the clutch work on the truck and tractor as well as what ever it takes to keep me and Tarry on the track.