CRAPAUD — Spencer MacKinnon felt one the biggest rushes of his life last Friday night.
A competitor at the P.E.I. Truck and Tractor Pull Championships, MacKinnon was at the ready line, revving his engine and getting ready to break out with a weighted drag hooked up behind him.
It was his first time using the super farm tractor, a machine he purchased last week in Centreville, N.B., that resembles a cross between a traditional tractor and a hotrod.
"The boys got a video of my leg, just coming off the clutch for the first time, my nerves were good but the old leg was shaking," said MacKinnon about the Maritime Truck and Tractor Pull Association's (MMTPA) event. "What a rush… it was something else."
Mackinnon, a resident of Crapaud who works in Alberta on a rotation, had begun pulling lawnmowers as a kid before competing in the stock farm tractor class for nearly seven years.
The south shore also couldn't have been a better place for MacKinnon to debut his new ride, a Case IH MXM175 that sports a 600 cubic inch motor.
The hometown competitor saw four third-place finishes, two in each of the 9,300 lb super farm tractor and 10,000 lb heavy pro stock classes.
However, the weekend wasn't without one snag, as MacKinnon saw his engine blow during his final pull.
That was likely due to larger injectors being added onto the engine last year by its previous owners, he said.
"They were having a fuel issue and didn't think that it was going to create that much more horsepower and heat," said MacKinnon. "The two nozzles that keep it cool with water couldn't keep up and we melted either a piston or something inside."
While top pullers in each class receive a money prize, the costs involved with purchasing and maintaining one of the heavy duty machines means competitors invest more into pulling than they could ever get out of it.
That's fine by MacKinnon, who sees it as a sport of passion.
"It's not a moneymaking sport; you do it for the fun and you do it for the thrill," he said. "I was a little disappointed with my last hook, I wanted to finish out the season with a big bang, but you know it happens, that's the nature of the sport."
While much of the local crowd was disappointed MacKinnon was unable to get his machine going again for the King of the Hill event, it was a small setback in an otherwise successful weekend.
The event saw large numbers both Friday night and throughout the day Saturday.
Co-chair Jamie Thompson said while he didn’t have the final numbers, the event seems to be growing every year.
“We’ve been fortunate for sponsors and spectators to keep coming back every year, it seems to be growing,” said Thompson. “It’s a significant event for a small community.”
A fundraiser pancake breakfast held by the Crapaud Fire Department also had its highest turnout ever.
As well, the championships saw a new four-wheel-drive heavy stock tractor class introduced to the event. This class showcased some of the newer heavy tractors that use electronic fuel systems, since those systems are prohibited in the other stock classes.
That class ended the weekend with a pull-off between two of the high-powered tractors, driven by Adam Hogg and Alex Wood, and left many in the crowd already looking forward to next year.
Thompson said the event draws many spectators from around the Maritimes.
For many, following the pulling circuit through the Maritimes and even in Quebec, Ohio and Pennsylvania is the thrill of their summer.
“For some it’s a weekend event. For some of the more enthusiastic, it is their summer, basically,” said Thompson. “It’s pretty well year-round: if you’re not pulling, you’re fixing.”
For MacKinnon, there is still a lot of work to be done before he begins pulling again next year.
While driving a truck in Alberta, he's hoping to get enough time off to compete in the MMTPA circuit next year, which typically sees at least half a dozen stops throughout the Maritimes.
Until then, he'll be fixing the engine and making the rig more driver friendly through some adjustments.
He’ll also be adding some decals to showcase the tractor’s name, "Mamma Ain’t Happy.”
"But other than that she's a great tractor, a beautiful beast," said MacKinnon. "It was a pretty successful weekend… Mamma's pretty happy now."