Barrie Jung from Milford Saskatchewan represented the true spirit of “Greatest Together” when he answered the Stampede’s call for a weighted sled 22 years ago. The sled is a key piece of equipment for the fan-favourite event — the Vintage Tractor Pull!
This event celebrates restored, vintage tractors built before the 1960’s. This event demonstrates their power and speed as they compete by pulling the weighted sled in six different weight classes.
Caring for these vintage tractors is a labour of love, taking hours of work and mechanical know-how to keep them in tip-top shape. Over the years, many tractors have been rescued from the landfill, either to be restored or for parts. This event provides a new purpose and a second life for the tractors. They might look old, but these beauties pull as good as ever.
Tractors like these bring up amazing memories for those who grew up on the farm. Jung often recalls his fond childhood memories of his father’s tractor, “my dad had an old Cockshutt, which we painted pink and called the Pink Panther Puller.”
Jung has deep roots in tractor pulling as he has competed in many pulls over his career, around Saskatchewan and Alberta towns like Rockyford and High River to just name a few. He got his first taste for the tractor pull in 1980 when the event came to his town.
Jung had only competed at the Calgary Stampede for a couple years when he answered their call for a weighted sled. The sled is also a vintage piece of equipment that has been restored and requires regular maintenance. Jung often fixes it up with his brother to get it ready for the competition.
Many may think it is the tractors vs the weights, however Jung sees it from the other side of the competition, manning the weighted sled. He controls all the mechanics of the sled and has to know just what to do to keep the competition interesting. “My job is to stop the tractors, and their job is to pull through,” says Jung.
The sled weighs 18,000 altogether and works by transferring weight from the back to the front, creating resistance as the tractors pull it forward.
“I have certain adjustments I can make on the weight box; I have a 5-speed transmission so I can change gears to get the weight box up faster or slower depending on the ground and track. On the front there is a series of holes I can move the chain up and down which changes the draft.” Jung uses these controls to keep every pull unique and challenging.
The tractor pulling circuit happens across Canada throughout the summer, and Jung has competed at many but says Calgary Stampede is the highlight of the year.
These drivers may be competitors in the ring, however the camaraderie between them rises above that. Competitors become friends who are always willing to lend a helping hand to ensure everyone can compete. The group has become quite close over the years and truly cheer each other on throughout the competition.
Jung has only missed three stampedes; “the flood, COVID and one other year and I don’t plan to miss anymore.”