Organiser seeking traction

A Taranaki man's vision of introducing tractor-pulling could spark the start of the international sport in the region.

Tractor-pulling involves modified tractors competing to pull a weighted sledge the furthest.

Karel Vanloo is organising a competition at Pihama, in South Taranaki, which he hopes will initiate similar events in the province.

"We were trying to get about five or six meetings around the mountain this year," Vanloo, of Midhirst, said.

"The biggest problem is travel and the cost involved. If we were able to get about 30 competitors and sponsorship, it would be fine."

The lack of pre-registration is affecting the running of events.

"Kiwis will look at the weather and go ‘yeah it's a nice day' and just turn up on the day," Vanloo said.

Tractor-pulling is a big sport in Vanloo's homeland of Holland and other European countries including Germany. "It's a growing sport in New Zealand," he said.

"In Holland, we can have 13 meetings in one weekend in an area the size of Taranaki and Whanganui."

Before moving to New Zealand in 2008, Vanloo had won the German and Dutch championships. To run the event, part of the motocross track at the back of the Pihama cricket club will be converted into a straight, 100 metre track. Vanloo has modified a JCB tractor into a purpose-built sledge, which he said is the most important part of the competition.

The tractor has been modified to sit over a platform, which includes railway tracks for weight.

The platform is raised and lowered using computer-controlled compressed air.

He said building and modifying the sledge was touch and go.

"I would build something and it wouldn't work, so I would go ‘it's wrong, I need to do it another way'."

The Pihama tractor-pull will be at the Pihama cricket club from 2pm on July 5.

Entry information is available at Taranaki Tractorpull on Facebook.

David Burroughs is a Witt journalism student.

Taranaki Daily News