Family remembers 'pulling' patriarch

Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Chris Bandy, of Seneca, drives a John Deere 4430 tractor Saturday evening in Seligman. Jason Johnston reporter@cassville-democrat.com

Seligman truck, tractor pull draws about 700

Norman Drake, of Neosho, was the president of the Spring River Pulling Association for almost 43 years, and many area truck and tractor pullers, sled operators and spectators respected him.

After Drake died on Jan. 15, his family has decided to stay on for one more year before letting others lead the association forward.

At the Seligman truck and tractor pull Saturday night, Norman's son, Randy Drake, was training sled operators during the 24-category event while Norman's wife, Margie Drake, recorded the footage of each pull at the finish line.

"He had been the president of the association since we started [in 1971]," Margie Drake said. "I have done the bookwork. All good things have to come to an end."

Randy Drake, 50, said he started helping his dad when he was 10.

Doug Tibbets, of Oak Grove, Ark., flies across the dirt track Saturday evening in a 1979 Chevy pickup. Jason Johnston reporter@cassville-democrat.com

Drake is the vice president of the association. He has been a sled operator for 20 years. The operator is on the back of the 32,000- to 34,000-pound sled, for safety reasons, while each truck or tractor pulled it down the track. Each category has weight, diameter and distance restrictions.

"This is my last year," Drake said. "There are some new [operators] taking over. It has been a very good association. We've had awfully good pulls."

The pull last week hosted by the Seligman Chamber of Commerce had a crowd of about 700 spectators, he said. The event was held on land owned by Ruby's Liquor, south of town on Highway 37.

Danny Frossard, of Neosho, announces the Seligman truck and tractor pull Saturday evening. Margie Drake, of Neosho, recorded the foot of each pull. Jason Johnston reporter@cassville-democrat.com

Neal Stanley, the owner of Seligman Auto Parts and the chamber vice president, said he built the pull track about seven years ago around the time Spring River started using it. The dirt track is 50 feet wide and 500 feet long, and it goes from north to south.

"Saturday's pull was awesome, and it was good for the community," said Daren Sinclair, of Washburn, who liked the engine noises that came from the trucks and the tractors. "The louder, the better."

"The pull was wonderful because of how many people showed up, the events and the participants, especially the guys with the high dollar trucks," said Mary Sinclair, Daren's mom, of Washburn. "And, we're not talking about little bitty hobbies here. We're talking major bucks."

Margie Drake said she never operated a sled or drove any truck or tractor that pulled the sled.

"That's not my thing," she said.

Spring River Pulling Association has another event at 7 p.m. Saturday, about a 1/2-mile south of Purdy on Highway 37. For more information about the association and other pulls, visit springriverpulling.com.

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