Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, June 25, 2001

'Thunder' will roll at truck pull

By Lynda Jensen

The sound of thunder will be heard this weekend, but it won't be the weather.

Blue Thunder and Violent Thunder, trucks driven by Clem and Deb Crowley of Howard Lake, will join 70 other drivers at the Truck and Tractor Pull set for Friday and Saturday, June 29 and 30, starting at 7 p.m., across from the Hollywood Ranch House, New Germany.

The event is sponsored in part by two local couples: the Crowleys and Jeff and Kay Gueningsman, Winsted.

Both of the couples custom built their trucks entered in the pull, Clem said. The Crowleys race in the super stock four wheel drive truck category.

Jeff Gueningsman is a mechanic for the Crowleys as well.

The Gueningsmans race two trucks, Aftershock and Earth Shaker, which they built themselves. One of their trucks was burned in a terrible fire recently, Clem said.

The fire didn't stop the Gueningsmans from entering their trucks anyway, Clem said. They've been working like crazy to rebuilt the burnt truck, he said.

They should be ready to pull Friday, Clem said. Their business, Gueningsman Auto Specialists, is still open for business, he said.

Ultimate 'tug of war' for local pullers

More than 70 drivers are expected to attend the truck and tractor pull, which features grand national champion Esdon Lehn pulling his tractor, Red Line Fever. Lehn's brother, Adrian, will also pull, Clem said.

Last year, the event attracted pullers from the five-state area. This year should be the same, Clem said, with

The Crowleys and Gueningsmans also built custom bleachers for the event, as well as renting additional seating, Clem said.

How it works

Pullers fasten their custom-built trucks or tractors to something called a "sled," which must be pulled forward for points, Clem said.

Every sled has a skid plate in front with a chain, and a truck axle with set of wheels in back. Joining the wheels and skid plate together is a set of steel rails riding on the truck axle.

On top of the rails ride a large box, known as the weight box, Clem said.

Through a mechanized process, as the sled is pulled down the track, weight and leverage are transferred to increase the down pressure of the skid plate, making it harder to pull as it moves forward.

This combined pressure eventually halts the pulling vehicle.

How it started

The Crowleys started pulling about 10 years ago, when Clem competed in un-sanctioned brush pulls, he said. The Crowleys are members of the National Truck and Tractor Pulling Association (NTPA), Deb said.

His truck, Blue Thunder, was one used for hauling fertilizer for the Crowleys' fertilizer business, Broll Fertilizer.

At the time, the Crowley boys, Zack, and Justin, thought the trucks sounded like thunder; hence the name, Clem said.

Clem's truck has always been blue, and Deb's truck is violet, which is a play on words for her truck's name, Violent (Violet) Thunder.

Deb got her truck when an employee rolled one of their fertilizer trucks the summer of 1996.

"We took the body and straightened it," Clem said. Once it was straightened, they had the body painted, he said.

Now they attend between 30 and 40 pulls each year, he said. This include the Anoka County Fair, and pulls in Arlington, Jordan, Bird Island, and Menomonie, Wisc.

Clem received third place standing with NTPA in 1994, second place in the 1995 Minnesota Sweep, and first in accumulated points with the NTPA in 1995.

Deb placed second in her first year of pulling, second at the Anoka County Fair, third at the overall Minnesota Sweep and tied for first place in final points with Jeff Gueningsman in 1998. Jeff had more firsts for the year, so the second place title went to Deb, she said.

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