Pulling out all the stops

By Ryan Cornell

At an age when most teens are learning how to hold the steering wheel, Guy Gochenour was hauling thousands of pounds on his tractor.

Gochenour, 49, a Woodstock farmer who competed in his first tractor pull at 16, has done it for the past three decades.

He said tractor pulling has evolved over the years as better parts have become available, leading to more horsepower and more reliable engines.

Gochenour helped start the modified tractor pull event that features tractors designated just for pulling at the Shenandoah County Fair more than 20 years ago.

“It’s got bigger turbos and bigger injectors and bigger injection pumps,” he said. “And that kind of stuff, you can’t farm with that.”

When he’s not competing in the county fair each year, Gochenour and his tractor, Stress Test, compete in the Interstate Pullers league. He won Pennsylvania’s Keystone Nationals Pull in his class for the past two years.

Although he’s considered one of the tractor pull veterans at the fair, he said he doesn’t have any plans of leaving the “farmer’s sport” anytime soon.

“We farm with tractors as equipment all day and then play with our tractors on the weekends, basically,” he said. “It’s a good sport. It’s a lot of good people.”

Kyle Foltz, 16, is a third-generation puller who will be competing in the fair’s farm tractor pull.

He said he’s learned quite a few things since starting out last year.

“You gotta pick the right gear,” he said. “If you pick a too low gear, you’ll run out of power. Tighten up the chain first before you take off or else it will jerk you around.”

Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rcornell@nvdaily.com