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Popular event which ‘pulls’ the community together returning after COVID hiatus

The Norwich & District Optimist Club (NDOC) is excited to announce the return of an event which quite literally ‘pulls’ the community together.

The 13th Annual Norwich T ’n’ T Pull is scheduled for Friday, August 19th from 6:30 p.m. to roughly midnight, and Saturday, August 20th from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on the Rettie farm, two miles north of Norwich’s main corner on Oxford Road 59. The largest single sanctioned Ontario Truck and Tractor Pullers Association (OTTPA) event will feature continuous tractor and truck pulling on side-by-side tracks as well as an Optimist food booth, licensed beverage area and live country/country rock music nightly, headlined by Rob Kirkham and Neon Rain Friday, followed up by the Darren Hancock Band Saturday.

“It’s definitely a community tradition in Norwich and around the area,” said NDOC Social Media/Sponsorship Chair Dave Nash, a volunteer with the club. “We are definitely excited to once again host this staple event in the community’s calendar.”
Site host and single engine modified puller John Rettie, left, and volunteer Norwich & District Optimist Club Social Media/Sponsorship Chair Dave Nash (right) are excited to announce the 13th Annual Norwich T’n’T Pull, Friday, August 19th and Saturday, August 20th, back after a two-year COVID-19 restriction hiatus. Those seeking more information are invited to access the event’s Instagram account at norwich_tnt_pull or visit the Norwich T’n’T Pull Facebook page, which also offer ticket and other associated giveaways.

In basic terms, pulls celebrate the friendly spirit of rural competition, a variety of tractors and trucks, both stock and modified, hauling a weighted sled as far as they can down a prepared track. Success is measured by distance rather than time, with a weighted box moving forward on the sled to progressively raise resistance and ultimately halt the pull. A majority of pullers are male, but there are very competitive female drivers, along with several husband/wife tandems.

Cash prizes which essentially help to offset fuel costs and OTTPA series points are up for grabs, along with event bragging rights, an honour not to be underestimated. Street or field classes are open to pickup trucks or farm tractors whose drivers are willing to accept the challenge, the latter in divisions ranging from 6,500 to 35,000 pounds.

“Some of them are what we call ‘hot farm,’” said John Rettie. “They may have had a bit of extra work done to them.”

A lifetime farmer, Rettie began as host, before getting pulled into the competitive side with a stock V8 engine mounted in a roller frame, intended to be a promotional gimmick.

“It just snowballed from there,” he admitted, into ‘Optimist Prime’, a single engine modified class unit powered by a naturally aspirated 572 Chevy engine pushing around 850 horsepower (HP), impressive by most standards.

“Not in this sport,” Rettie smiled, mentioning for example, Rod Cochrane’s ‘Perfect Storm’ which mounts three Ford Hemi engines running on alcohol, combining for just shy of 10,000 HP. Hearing protection is recommended for spectators taking in the ‘perfect storm’ of higher horsepower classes, including ‘super semis’, modified semi trucks packing around 4,000 HP.

Pulling is a ‘rush’ says Rettie, ‘green light, green flag and go.’

“It’s just get it moving out of the hole and put it to it.”

As the hand throttle is pushed forward and and front end lifts, drivers typically steer by independently braking rear wheels.

“There’s a lot going on in 300 feet,” said Rettie, who says there is definitely camaraderie among competitors, until they put their helmets on and start their engines. “On the track, it’s go time.”

The Norwich Optimists are experiencing a similar sense of rising anticipation says Nash, gearing up for the club’s largest fund-raising event of the year. Over 100 area sponsors both large and small are crucial to its success he credits, essentially underwriting expenses including fencing, bleachers and prize money. The club’s 40 members, supported by ‘friends of optimists’ combine in a 100-plus-member army of volunteers responsible for operations including the food booth, staffing entry and exit points, and the myriad responsibilities required to make a massive two-day event a success.

“It’s a lot of work, but we definitely enjoy putting it on for the community, because it is such an annual tradition,” says Nash.

Proceeds from the event further the Optimist motto of ‘Bringing Out The Best In Youth.’ The NDOC supports a wide variety of causes including but not limited to sports clubs and groups, public and high school scholarships, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Camp Trillium, and a $25,000 commitment to the Norwich/Springford/Tillsonburg Trail.

“Without the Norwich T ’n’ T Pull, we wouldn’t be able to contribute nearly as much to the community.”

Those seeking more information are invited to access the event’s Instagram account at norwich_tnt_pull or visit the Norwich T’n’T Pull Facebook page, which also offer ticket and other associated giveaways.

“The likes and comments are through the roof,” says Nash, surmising there is shared excitement among the community, NDOC members and pullers.

“John and the guys are itching to get out there pulling.” 

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