Text: Joe Kilian
Photos: Phil Grande
The 22nd annual NR/CTPA World Championships were held this year on October 8-10 at the traditional location in Holiday City, OH. For years, it was known that the NR/CTPA was not the only association that pulled RC vehicles. There were reports that associations in the Netherlands, Germany, England and Australia also were involved. A few years ago, two NR/CTPA members crossed the Atlantic to pull with the guys from Holland. This year, the Dutch repaid that little visit 10 times over when seven Dutch pullers entered the competition, making the NR/CTPA a true world championship that crossed the international barrier.
Great concern swept the event by Friday morning because the team from the Netherlands had not yet received their equipment. The team had arrived on Wednesday and requested shipment to the hotel on Thursday. Thursday came and went with no delivery. The Dutch tracked down their equipment to Ft. Wayne, ID, and took matters in their own hands. They made the 100-mile trip to Ft. Wayne and intercepted the box (already on its way back to the Netherlands), and by Friday afternoon, they were unpacking their awesome fuel tractors. All the Dutch tractors were extremely well designed and looked great, and that included the world-famous “Heat” turbine tractor of Martin Stouten. Everyone gathered around this huge box for a peek at this incredible machine. Martin not only fabricated the tractor but also the turbine in it. He also has two more of these at home—another single-engine and a double-engine model with even smaller turbines. Two problems arose with this team in attendance. One was finding classes that the Dutch could compete in; they have their own rulebook, and their vehicles reflected that. Rules were bent a little, and most of these machines wound up in the Insane class, where “any power can be used as long as it is safe.” The turbine was going to test that rule. The other problem was even bigger: getting the exhaust of the Heat tractor out of the hotel without melting or burning whatever was used to do that. Turbine temperatures are over 1,200 degrees in the motor. Vice president Dave Engle began work on this project just after the Dutch entered the competition. After talking with turbine engineers, it was learned that the temperature drops quickly after exhaust leaves the engine. In our 1/10-scale case, it was pegged at half of the internal heat at a distance of 6 inches from the exhaust and cut in half again 6 inches further … maybe. After an exhaustive search of flexible plastic tubing stock, Dave found a lightweight 12-inch tube with a melting point of 500 degrees and coupled that with a with a giant blower unit, and we were set.
The event is spread out over three days starting on Friday with monster truck drag racing and elimination racing (lose once, and you are out); the next two days are the actual competition in monster truck racing and pulling. The racing takes place on two side-by-side mirror courses, and the association’s new computer timing system crunches all of the numbers and has the standings ready right after the event is finished. The course is very twisty, with jumps and crushed cars, and really tests the driving abilities of the competitors.
The pulling is broken down into dirt track pulling and carpet track pulling and then further into electric and fuel vehicles. On the dirt venue, all fuel vehicles pulled on one track, and all electrics were on the other one. This was done because of the smoke eradication system the association uses for exhaust of the fuel vehicles. Measurements were taken with lasers, and the whole thing gets crunched down on computers with monitors at the end of the track, so everyone knows where they are.
In a concours event on Saturday morning, the group competed in overall Concours and Best Engineered voted on by the members, and the president’s trophy, picked by the president of the association.
After 12 rounds of racing each day, the biggest surprise of the weekend came in the largest class of that division. Chad Buckland smoked the field for his first world championship. By the end of the weekend, Chad had an almost 3-second lead over second place. The other huge winner and no surprise was Mike Eckenrode. Mike is a master at this type of racing, notching out victories in six classes: 2WD Stock Tuff Truck, 4WD Modified Tuff Truck, Super Stock Monster Truck, 4WD Tube Chassis, Modified 4WD Independent Suspension and 4WD Drive Shaft classes. Other world champions in racing were Matt Stoltz in 2WD Modified Tuff Truck and Box Stock, Scott Taylor in 4WD Open Monster Truck, Dan Dufore in Sport Modified Monster Truck, Phil Grande in Retro Monster Truck, Jim Grahl in CORR Truck and Cierra Maimone in Novice. The Friday Night Drags were won by Hobby Bobby Santoro, and Matt Stoltz took the elimination race in both events on Friday night. The last event of the racing venue is the Freestyle. Afterwards, there usually is a ton of wrenching to fix hammered trucks—many of these go home in baskets! After doing a few tricks I had never seen before, Phil Grande came up with the win. Now we need some international monster truck racers to compete; that would be really awesome.
In Carpet Pulling, Laura Mealy bested the field in a large pro Stock Tractor. The Mealys always field a group of highly detailed vehicles that are usually in the running for concours. They apparently run as well as they look good, as she held off six other tractors in a pulloff. In a seven-way pulloff in Bartire Sportsman, Danny Mealy won it, with his dad, Gene, taking Open 1 in a nine-way pulloff. The other world champions in Carpet Pulling were: Colleen Schwarts—Digger; Jerry Rosengren—4WD Pro Modified; Jerry Rosengren Jr.—2WD Truck; Jarred Jones—2WD Super Sport Truck Big Rig; and Glen Singleton—2WD Open 2, pulling 600 pounds in the pulloff and winning the heaviest class of the day.
Dirt Pulling is the fastest pulling event with the most upsets (because of varying track conditions), and that may be the reason it had the largest number of dirt track pullers ever this year. Starting with the garden tractor class, Jake Haulman barely got by with a .14 of a foot win. Jake also aced the International Super Stock Challenge class, which was contrived to go halfway between the Dutch and the NR/CTPA pullers. Bob Perl became champion of the big Pro Stock Tractor class. Mark Damewood showed his pulling prowess by winning four classes: 4WD Scratchbuilt, Brushless Scratchbuilt 4WD, Light Super Stock Tractor and 2WD (nitro) Pro Modified. With 18 in the class, Donovan Cox won the 2WD Pro Modified electric class. The world champions on dirt were: Matt Stoltz—Digger; Andy Likenholker—2WD Box Stock; Terry McGuire—Diesel; Joe Kilian—Big Rig, Sportsman and Open 1; Audrey Pisiak —4WD Modified Driveshaft; 5- year-old Jason Smith —Heavy Super Stock; Ed Finchum—2WD Nitro; and Kevin McPhearson—Gas. With most of the Dutch guests entered in the Insane class, including that world-famous Heat tractor, the battle lines were set. Saturday five pullers were in the pulloff, and Sunday morning no one else entered, so five were at the line. By the time Martin Stouten took the line, two tractors had already fouled out (went out of bounds), and only two had a distance. Martin started the turbine—and, yes, it sounded like a real turbine when it spooled up and launched from the line. It was really unbelievable hearing the turbine whine and the tires screaming on the clay track. When the dust had settled, Martin full-pulled in the pulloffs to become the first European world champion. What a finish to a perfect pulling weekend. To further put this into perspective, in rcmt.net, Martin’s brother posted, “I am very proud of my brother. For someone who has never even left the country for a vacation … to go to the USA and perform like that is awesome!” He and his tractor were awesome for sure. With Martin Stouten and his turbine in first place, Tim Ludyka was second with a twin motor nitro, and Joe Kilian was third with a brushless vehicle. This was a Ford-Chevy-Dodge finish, if there ever was one!
The NR/CTPA thanks all of the Dutch pullers who made this a historic event: Frank Gijsen, Jerolm Oltvoort, Gerco Vink, Henk Korenkomp, Peter van Bortel, Paul Zolrink,and of course the world champion in Insane, Martin Stouten.
The Association also thanks the event’s outstanding sponsors: Tamiya, Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League, Monster Jam, Xtreme R/C Car Magazine, Castle Creations, Traxxas, Great Planes, DuraTrax, Tower Hobbies, Parma, RC4WD, Pro-Line, Hooter Chassis & Hobby Shop, Jerry’s Radio Control, Outlaw Hobby, CheapBatteryPacks.com, CowRC, County Line RC Pullers, Smitty’s Custom Auto, STPA R/C Pulling Club, Termyte Pulling Chassis, Davin Refrigeration Inc, rcpullingtractors@yahoogroups, Performance Motion, RCMT, Phil’s Hobby Shop, Downriver R/C Monsters and Sled Dragons Pulling Team, Bartos Chassis, Haulman Manufacturing, joeshow, Koogler Pulling, Mark Ucasz, Gene Nine, Ed Finchum, and Eric Krush, Jarrod Jones, Chris Bercaw.
This year’s entries totaled 405 and were the best Worlds I have ever attended. The Dutch came with the most positive attitude of “Just come and have a good time” that was infectious. The Internet does put everyone in communication together, but chances are highly unlikely you will ever meet most of these people, especially when they come from Europe. To actually meet these guys and see their stuff and interact with them was an experience of a lifetime. “These were the good times!”
If you think you’d like to get into monster truck racing or pulling, contact Andy Likenholker firstname.lastname@example.org, or 413.668.8844, or nrctpa.org. See you all next year!