MILLINOCKET, Maine — Anybody who really likes pickup trucks and tractors comes to the Northern Timber Cruisers Truck Pulls to see how the vehicles are assembled, Eldon Pelletier said Friday.
It’s a regular part of the show: aficionados respectfully approaching truck owners and getting a chance to peek under hoods.
“You get to see what people put together from equipment and how they can get so much horsepower out of a pickup or tractor. You can see how they put one together to compete with,” Pelletier said. “Whoever has the best setup is the guy that wins.”
The third annual pull will be held Saturday at Millinocket Regional Airport and is expected to draw as many as 3,000 people, Pelletier said.
The gates open at 10 a.m., with same-day race registration available until 12:30 p.m. to anyone with a tractor or pickup. The pulls start at 1 p.m., according to the event schedule.
The Pelletier family of “American Loggers” TV fame built the pull track for free alongside one of the airport’s two runways in 2010 to raise money for the Northern Timber Cruisers Snowmobile Club’s efforts to build multiuse recreational trails in the Katahdin region, maintain the club’s snowmobile trails, and draw more people and businesses to the Katahdin region.
The inaugural truck and tractor pull, in September 2010, had traffic into the airport so thick that it stretched from the airport on Medway Road to Rice Farm Road, at least two miles away.
It came in such a steady stream that vehicles still were pulling into the parking lot alongside the closed runway for an hour after the event began. Crowds filled the bleachers and lined the opposite side of the track at least three deep.
The event drew 1,500 to 2,000 people last year as a two-day event. Organizers scaled it back to make it more economical.
About 20 club volunteers were working Friday preparing the airport for the event, Pelletier said. They were assembling grandstands, concession stands and tents, watering the track and setting up safety barricades.
The event will feature 10 classes and 75 to 80 vehicles, some coming from as far away as New Brunswick and Quebec, Pelletier said. Adults pay $10 at the gate; children under age 12, $2.
About 75 sponsors contributed to help pay for the event, including its $7,575 in purse money for winning racers. The sponsorship is crucial to the event, said Robert Lane, an event organizer who is also on the club’s board of directors.
“We couldn’t pull it off without the sponsors. We couldn’t afford it,” Lane said.
Another crucial element is the volunteers. About 35 club members will be working the event, Lane said.