In the past year the economy in the United States has taken a big hit. With the stock market tumbling and massive job losses, there is not much for business owners to get excited about.

No one knows this more than Norman’s Wayne Purser. The owner of Elite Trailer Manufacturer in Oklahoma City has been forced to layoff 200 of his 300 workers in the past 12 months.

Yet, despite the difficult times, Purser has been able to hold onto his passion. While much of the outside world has seemingly been in a free fall, his world of tractor pulling was on the rise.

With more than 75,000 spectators watching, Purser had a chance to earn the biggest win of his tractor pulling career last month. All he had to do was ride a 7,500 pound piece of machinery more than 215 feet.

Purser did just that Feb. 17 at the 41st annual Championship Tractor Pull in Louisville, Ky. Driving Uncle Sam, his specially built tractor, Purser won first place with a pull of 233 feet. He was more than 18 feet ahead of Bill Voreis, who came in second.

“This deal here, it’s probably the biggest indoor farm show in the United States,” Purser said. “Big giant show. They only invite the top guys from all classes. It’s the Super Bowl of tractor pulls.”

For taking first in the 7,500 Modified Tractor class, Purser collected $3,500 and a crystal cup. It’s the first time he has ever won the championship, which is part of the 2009 National Farm Machinery Show.

“I have gotten second and third the last couple of years,” said Purser, who graduated from Moore High in 1985. “This year I just had my set perfect. My tractor likes that track. Everything went right.”

Purser has come close several times to earning the crystal ball before. Last year he made it to the finals of the tractor pull championship, before things started to go wrong for him.

“Last year I had bad luck,” Purser said. “Made it to finals and broke some gears in the transmission. It would have won last year.

Purser said he came back and rebuilt the pieces stronger and was ready to grab the title had eluded him for years.

Despite not turning to the professional ranks until 1997, Purser, 41, became interested in tractor pulling early in life.

“When I was kid growing up in Moore, I did team rodeos,” Purser said. “But my next door neighbor, Kenneth Guinn, used to tractor pull. They had a track pull in the back of their house. I always liked motors and four-wheel drives. I decided I liked motors better than the rodeo.”

It was from Guinn that Purser purchased his first tractor called The Oklahoman. He competed with that for four years.

Now, two tractors later, Purser is riding high on Uncle Sam, which has four motors that are 540 cubic inch Brad Anderson Hemis. The name comes from the patriotic spirit Purser carries with him into each competition.

“It’s a big powerful tractor,” Purser said. “And I am a World War II buff. It’s like a salute to the World War II veterans. Just saying thanks.”

With Uncle Sam, Purser has previously won the Modified Grand National Title in 2006 and was selected to travel to the European Super Pull in the Netherlands in 2007. He was the only American invited to compete.

With the NFMS championship under his belt, Purser now has his sights set on adding to his resume. That includes the National Tractor Pull Association Grand Championship this summer.

However, due to the state of the economy, Purser will not be able to enter as many competitions as he has in the past.

“I have already put more than $500,000 into the tractor,” Purser said. “If you average it out, it cost $2,000 every 300 feet.”

Most tractor pulls take place in the Northeast part of the country, which requires a lot of travel for Purser, who said he must now spend more time with his business.

Despite slowing down, Purser has no plans to give up the sport. When he is on top of Uncle Sam, the motors are running wide open, black smoke fills the air and a packed stadium erupts after a great pull, there is no other feeling he can compare to it.

“The tractor pull is not a lot of speed,” Purser said. “It may get up to 50 miles an hour. But in our division you can just feel the power. When you give it the throttle, it’s 10,000 horse power. You can feel it.”

Trending Video

This Week's Circulars

Recommended for you