The first Australian Modified Tractor Pull was held at Elmore (Victoria) Field Days in 1976. The following year saw Tractor Pulling begin in the Victorian rural town of Quambatook. It has developed over the past years into a highly competitive and technical sport, where the difference between first and last place may be as small as one or two metres. Often the top tractors are separated by mere centimetres.
The Australian Tractor Pullers Association (ATPA) is a non-profit organisation that governs Modified Tractor Pulling in Australia. Our events (Tractor Pulls) are held in conjunction with a promoter. This promoter is often a local school, sporting, service or community club (for example; Apex, Rotary, Lions, Netball, Cricket, Football) who use the event as a fundraiser.
Tractor Pulls are held in locations throughout Australia, predominantly in Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales. In the west there are two associations affiliated with the ATPA, the Western Australian Tractor Pullers Association and also the Perth Tractor Pullers.
The ATPA is focused on actively promoting this spectacular sport and working with communities to not only establish a unique annual event, but more importantly to assist communities financially through the influx of spectators, sponsors and promotion.
A reflection of John Parker and his contribution to Tractor Pulling: 1976 - 2007
John was as most of you know, like a dog with a bone. His schemes and dreams gave a lot of us the horrors at times, but the more negative anyone was, the more he persevered, sometimes maybe just to annoy you but he never expected anything from you that he didn't expect of himself, usually working alongside you.
John's enthusiasm was one of a kind. There is no way to describe his driving ambitions you just had to experience to believe. ( Sometimes the driving ambitions could have been referred to as arguments and many times driving you nuts)
In the 70's he visited America and came back to introduce Tractor Pulling to Australia. The original QTPA sled was designed and built on the farm at Quambatook from a humble beginning as one of John's 40 foot flat top sheep trailers.
John towed, operated and maintained the sled for many years. He built the Quaker in '76 taking only 2 or 3 weeks and it has competed continually ever since be it for many modifications.
John served many terms as President of both Quambatook and ATPA. In the early years he showed the way for the ATPA to promote pulls, travelling many thousands of kms. to set promoters in the right direction with promotion, track preparation etc. often acting as track marshall or just about any job going.
Some of these trips to Pull centres and to meetings were quite an ordeal for passengers. Get in, hang on, say a prayer and then hold your breath. Some only ever went once, but some of us never learned, Pat and I went with John to Toobarac to a meeting earlier this year. He managed to get two tickets in the one day with a loss of 6 points.
John seemed to get a lot of pleasure out of everyone tearing around at the last minute before a pull. Coming up to Queensland pulls in the 80's an overhaul was required including the fitting of brakes to stop the box. John takes off north late in the day leaving orders for Trevor to finish the job as they were picking the sled at 6 oclock next morning.
The day before a pull at Leeton, big works again, sled had been altered and needed to be re-registered. Try explaining to VicRoads that the tare weight of the trailer if 20 tonne and the gross weight is also 20 tonne. at 4 o'clock on a Friday afternoon, lucky at that time rego's were done through the police and the local cop was a member of Quamby.
John, that bloke that caused chaos so many times also made sure that the sled turned up and performed on the day of a pull. John sold the original sled to Western Australia and he donated the funds to the QTPA to further promote Tractor Pulling.
On the lighter side of life – John did have a sense of humour. One late, dark night after a Quamby pull at the old track, when toilets were a hole in the ground inside a gal tank, an intoxicated patron was causing John grief , he bellowed at him and the poor bloke sought cover in the toilet, with no hesitation John roared up to the establishment in the truck with bull bar – crash, bang and the bloke headed for home real fast. John chuckled away- orr fixed him up.
In the early 80's John promoted pulls in Queensland, New South Wales and Tasmania. He personally financed and sourced sponsorship for these pulls which included 3 pulls in Queensland twice over, 2 or 3 pulls in Tasmania twice, and the trip of a lifetime for those 50 odd adults and kids who did the 4 pulls through NSW over the ten days – Tamworth Saturday, Narrabri on Tuesday, Coonabarabran Thursday and Dubbo on the Saturday. All these pulls were organised and run by the pullers. We would pull into a paddock, put up fences, prepare track etc with equipment which John organised in advance.
Fantastic time was had by all and how could you ever thank the guy or realise what that trip did to promote Tractor Pulling. There was humour as well as work, John was to ask over an evening meal, where is Alan Marshall. He was informed that he was fixing his tractor, John's reply was - orr, what happened that. John had driven Alan's mini during the day and whoops ran right over the post at the end of track.
John had a big part in introducing Tractor Pulling to Western Australia. Whilst he didn't attend the pulls over in the west he gave the directions and made sure an experienced team were on hand to assist. He provided transport for some of the Eastern States tractors to compete in Western Australia over the first four years.
In '83 when Puller and Hooker Awards were introduced John donated all the trophies which was a great contribution. Under the banner of Swan Hill T & I. generous sponsorship has been provided to the Quamby Pull from the very 1st. Pull over 30 years ago. John's generosity has been shown is so many ways throughout Tractor Pulling, from sponsorship to providing advice, materials and financial support. Many of the 22 modified tractors that have been constructed and operated out of Quamby over the 30 years have benefited from John's generosity in some way. Many of these vehicles would never have been in the sport without John's assistance. When he or his family were unable to operate the modifieds, John never hesitated to allow his work mates and friends to jump on board and have a go.
The guy never rested on his laurels but pushed on carrying others along with him. At all times for the benefit of individuals, organizations and communities far and wide. If John had lived to 105 he would have still been thinking up some scheme to help someone or something somewhere.
Thank you John for what you gave to Tractor Pulling.
Compiled by Trevor & Norma Bennett