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Trucks, tractors gear up to pull their weight

This 1950 Ford named Fordasaurus belongs to River Falls resident Ben Loutsch, who serves as president of the non-profit organization Western Wisconsin Truck Pulling, competes in both of River Falls' annual truck-pulling events, and has been the points champion in his class six times in a row -- from 2006-2011. <i>Submitted photos</i>1 / 2
This truck belongs to Darin Schuster and represents one of the types of vehicles that run in the River Falls-based truck pulls. The first one of the summer, Showdown on the Kinni, happens this Friday, June 15 at the north-end industrial park.2 / 2

People who love to drive or watch mechanical beasts pulling heavyweight loads through the dirt can look forward to this week's truck-and-tractor pull in River Falls, Showdown on the Kinni.

It begins at 6:30 p.m., Friday, June 15, in the north-end industrial park, nearest to the corner of North Main and Summit streets.

Admission for this Chamber of Commerce-hosted event costs $6 for adults and $3 for children aged 3-12.

Visitors can enjoy for the evening both a beer garden and a concession stand.

River Falls resident Ben Loutsch not only runs in the annual event, he also serves as president of the nonprofit organization, Western Wisconsin Truck Pulling.

He helps the local chamber organize the local truck-pulling events that happen each year.

Those are the one-day Showdown on the Kinni event and the truck-and-tractor pull event that takes place over several days during the River Falls Days celebration.

Loutsch confirms the truck-pull classes that run at each: 4,000 open; improved stock; pro stock; street modification; and four-wheel drive (FWD) modification.

Tractor-pull classes include farm, hobby, modified, hot, light and heavy.

Puller's insight

Loutsch runs a 1950 Ford truck named Fordasaurus. He said the truck was originally built with a "flathead" eight-cylinder engine but now has a 460 big block.

He runs in the 4,000 open and said, "I'm the six-time points champion in my class."

Loutsch confirms that he and all drivers work toward the objective of pulling a heavy load farther than any other vehicle in their class. Everybody gets one pull, with the exception of some trucks that change tires then do a second pull.

He said winners get bragging rights plus points for each competition they win. Local winners get cash plus can accumulate points to win prizes through the WWTP organization. Top-points winners for the year receive a coat, a plaque and a cash prize.

Asked if the pull tracks are dry or muddy, "Everybody likes a (dry) clay track," Loutsch said, adding that the Fire Department is usually on hand to add only enough moisture to keep the dust down.

He explained how the weight works, "Each class doesn't pull the same amount. The bigger the truck, the more weight goes in the sled."

A sled operator adds the weight, and as each contestant gets ready to run, the sled is attached to their truck. At Friday's event, the truck-and-tractor pulls happen simultaneously.

Loutsch said he's been 'pulling' since about 1999 and goes to about 20 events each year all over Wisconsin and Minnesota. He got to know the hobby as a kid when his dad used to do mud-run events "back in the day."

The enthusiast says he was out of it for a while but then after getting a good job, he joined again. Before long, he was voted in as the WWTP's president.

Loutsch both competes in and helps organize the two, annual pull events in River Falls. He says he helps with registration, collects entry fees and makes sure that Chamber Director Rosanne Bump receives the bag of money.

With a good-natured laugh, Loutsch says he also mediates any disputes that might occur at the event.

Asked what he likes best about doing truck pulls, he said he enjoys the challenge. He says participants have to know the vehicle, its engine and capabilities, how to drive, the characteristics of different tracks and the various techniques that help drivers pull for the longest distance.

"I love it," said Loutsch, "you can't beat it."

Get more information about competing at the showdown by going to the Chamber's web site:

Learn more about truck pulling at the WWTP's web