If you watch tractor pulling, you’ve probably seen Gregg Randall (pictured above at right). The National Tractor Pullers Association’s office general manager says he’s at a pull nearly every weekend between June and September. So you might have seen him trackside wearing a headset and holding a clipboard. But you might also recognize Randall as the co-host of the “NTPA Championship Pulling” TV show on RFD-TV. The soy checkoff just wrapped up the sixth season of its partnership with the NTPA to promote the use of soy biodiesel among pulling fans, and Randall sat down for an interview with Beyond the Bean Online to talk about how that partnership continues to achieve results.
Q: As the NTPA wraps up the sixth season of its partnership with the soy checkoff, how have you seen this program benefit U.S. soybean farmers?
A: The partnership has been a great fit, a natural fit. It’s still helping build awareness of biodiesel, but it it’s also directly increasing use. Of course, the NTPA trucks that transport our event equipment use a biodiesel blend almost exclusively, and we haven’t had any issues with it. But more and more of our competitors are using it on the farm and in competition and seeing great results. So it’s been a beneficial relationship.
Q: This was also the third season for the “Powered by Biodiesel” Light Pro Stock class. How has that class grown?
A: The Light Pro Stock class is a fantastic class. We had 25 hooks this year in Region 2, which includes Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio, and we didn’t go anywhere with less than nine tractors competing. We continue to hear about new tractors being built to compete in this class, so we could have as many as 30 competitors next year. That’s a good amount of pullers to think about expanding a little further.
Q: What’s the NTPA’s secret for staying so popular?
A: We do teaspoon changes versus scoop-shovel changes, so our rules stay fairly uniform. Most of our events are at fairs, which are annual events in rural settings, and motorsports are very big in ag and rural communities. We had 82 events this year. People still buy a $10 to $15 ticket to our shows while other sports that sell much higher-priced tickets aren’t doing so well right now. There’s competition out there, but as long as we do our jobs, there’s fan interest there. We hear about people driving all the way from Florida or Oregon to a tractor pull.
Q: One rule change that will go into effect next year is recognizing pure biodiesel, or B100, as a legal fuel for all diesel pulling classes. Why did the NTPA decide to adopt that rule?
A: We’ve always been open to our competitors using biodiesel fuel as long as it passed our tests. Now, we have a very simple test that we can do on-site to determine whether a fuel is B100. Someone can put B100 in their tractor right out of the pump and we’ll know what it is. I give United Pullers of Minnesota and the Minnesota soy checkoff board a lot of credit because they found a way for pullers to use higher blends of biodiesel.
Q: How can this rule change add to the existing relationship between the NTPA and U.S. soybean farmers?
A: This is the perfect next step in this partnership because it could be great proof that biodiesel performs in diesel engines with no concerns. We did a trial run on this last year in Minnesota, and I’m hearing those competitors had no issues at all. I’m sure we’ll still need to educate some of the old-school guys who have been pulling since before there was a fuel called biodiesel, but hopefully we’ll see a lot of pullers make the jump straight to B100.