How did you spend your summer vacation?
Families across America use May to September to have fun, travel, and probably most importantly…connect.
Visiting friends, playing outside, making crafts, reading, playing computer games, listening to music, having sleepovers, gardening, eating ice cream, getting a summer job, or visiting the Grand Canyon…families from coast-to-coast find several ways to have a leisurely summer.
But how about hanging out with the Outlaw Truck and Tractor Pulling Association, churning up miles on the road, living out of a motorhome for four months, and playing in the dirt?
For OTTPA families, they wouldn’t have it any other way.
It’s essentially a traveling circus as million-dollar racing teams travel around the country each weekend. Pullers and their families hit the road, compete, play, and again most importantly…connect.
“My kids have been around it their entire lives,” said Dave Yarick, a farmer and puller from Rich Hill, Missouri. “That’s what I love about our sport. It’s family-oriented and everywhere you look, you see families involved in it, supporting each other and helping each other.”
It may not seem like the easiest life, towing big rigs up and down the interstates for the next pull. Yarick’s children, son Cody age 23, and McKenzie age 20 have gone from rolling around in the dirt as children to now competing in the series.
“Our house is full of pictures of the kids with their toy tractors playing in the dirt with the other kids on the circuit,” Yarick said. “We were on pulls all over the place, and all of our family pictures have something to do with tractor pulling.”
Cassidy Zajicek, 21, also grew up with the sport as her father, Robert of Columbus, Texas, began pulling in 1982. It’s hard to argue the upbringing of children who played and now compete in the OTTPA. Cassidy is now in medical school at Texas A&M Corpus Christi.
She and her brother, Cole, both went from children running amongst the trucks and tractors to competitors in them. Cassidy and her dad combined for the points championship in 2017, and the sport has been in her blood since birth.
“I wouldn’t change anything from my childhood,” said Cassidy, who’s on track to graduate in 2019 with a degree in Kinesiology Exercise Science. “I got see the country and I got to experience a lot of things I would have never experienced without tractor pulling. It was a great experience growing up the way we did, and we knew it was different than other kids.”
Accommodations vary when it comes to life in the OTTPA. From June to Labor Day, it’s a different city every weekend, but for many, home base stays the same.
It’s not uncommon to see massive motorhomes and toterhomes with showers, kitchens and sleeping quarters. An occasional hotel will pop up during weekly events, but for the most part, it’s a family affair that doesn’t stray far from its roots.
“My kids played with the other kids that were also traveling with their parents,” Yarick said. “They hung out in the trailer and played, but they also watched everything I did. I had a feeling they’d compete someday. They grew up around it and they were always with us.”
It’s not all rough, however. Scott Jensen from Dell Rapids, S.D. travels with a semi-trailer and toterhome that many would love to call home at any time. A farmer in South Dakota, Jensen says he and the other pullers hit the road for the OTTPA once the work in the field is done.
A lonely existence it is not, according to Jensen. Although you’re away from home, there is still family all around.
“The people you pull with end up becoming your family,” Jensen said. “You’re always excited to see the people there, including your fellow competitors. We’re all pretty self-sufficient on the road, and we see a lot of each other.”
The only drawback to time on the road? Jensen says whenever there’s a breakdown. But even then, his family on the road is there to help.
“I think the travel is what makes it so exciting. But if you break down, nobody looks forward to that,” Jensen said. But we’ve all been there, and we help each other out. Every week, we get done pulling on a Saturday night, and when we get home on Monday, we turn around and do it again on Thursday. We all know we’re going to see each other again, and we all help each other out.”
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Blown a tire in the middle of nowhere, but you have to get to the pull.
Done pulling Sat night and head home on Sunday. Usually, home by Monday and then you’re back on the road Thursday.
Ten days without coming home.
25 son – drove for the first time at 15 – Cole. Won the title last year.
It was a great way to grow up for the kids.
He’s been driving a tractor or some sort since he was 10.
Traveled every weekend. Down between Houston and San Antonio.
Nice motorhomes. Semi with a good sized trailer. Shower and truck and trailer. We don’t depend on motels.
979-732-0906 – Cassidy
We would go to some TX ones. Play around at the trailer – find things to do in the little towns.
Sometimes we stayed in hotels, but we stayed in the trailer a lot. It was fun, I had a lot of fun doing it. I’m sure it was probably hard on my parents sometimes, but we all had fun playing together and hanging out.
More last summer – won points championship with dad.