The big pull

It was a case of love at first sight for Al Christensen.

Twenty-seven years ago the Seven Persons, Alta. resident attended a tractor and truck pulling competition and he was hooked on the sport.

"I went and watched one and thought 'hey that looks like fun'," said Christensen as he readied himself Friday afternoon to compete in the tractor and truck pulls presented in the city by Maple Farm Equipment and the Yorkton Exhibition Association.

And once he became involved he was addicted.

"It's about eight seconds of glory," he said, then adding "about 100-hours of work for eight seconds of glory."

Christensen runs two trucks, the two-wheel drive Brawny based on a 1947 GMC, with a motor putting out about 1900 horsepower. It's a truck he said he built about a decade ago.

So while the basic truck is 10-years old, everything mechanical has been changed over the years, much of repeatedly based on updating technology, or repairing things.

"After 20-runs on a motor you pretty well have to rebuild it," said Christensen.

When it comes to rebuilding motors and other repairs Christensen is his own pit crew doing most of the work. He said being a mechanic is almost a must "unless you have real deep pockets." He estimated to have the motors built would be $80-$100,000, and the trucks would be a quarter of a million.

"But when you build your own it don't cost that much."

Christensen also runs a four-wheel drive, again based on a '47 GMC.

It is his original truck built in 1984 "when I started pulling." Like Brawny, Plum Crazy has seen "many changes over the years."

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Of course Plum Crazy was not what Christensen had initially envisioned for the truck when he purchased it.

"I had the truck. It was going to be a hot rod truck for the street," he said.

The sport of tractor pulling was once popular at fairs and shows across Saskatchewan, but went through a decline for a time.

"I know Saskatchewan had a slow period," said Christensen, but he noted the situation was somewhat isolated to the province. He said it remained popular with several events in Alberta, and when a weekend in Canada was open he simply headed south to compete.
Over the years Christensen said he has pulled in most every western state including the Dakotas, Montana, Wyoming, California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho.

"We're pulling from June through 'til the end of September," he said.

Most events are on weekends, allowing him to return home for the week.

"You do have to make a living too somehow," offered Christensen who runs a construction company.
So what keeps the 57-year-old Christensen on the road four months out of the year pulling after nearly 30-years?

"It's the people that are involved in the sport. They're great people," he said.

And Christensen said pulling is really his hobby, an activity he enjoys both the excitement of heading down the track, and the mechanic work between events to keep the powerful trucks running.
"Some people have a boat and cabin. I have these," he said.

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