Ed Shoobridge doesn't throw his weight around even though he's a champion many times over. Instead of throwing, the 62-year-old retired autoworker from Memphis, Mich., pulls the weight normally at least 300 feet with his International Harvester-built Farmall tractor.
He's been on the tractor pull circuit about 17 years around the Great Lakes states and Ontario, Canada, and Saturday he took home another first place in his division at the Trumbull County Fair, where his customized machine hauled a sledge, or sled, 324 feet - outdistancing four other competitors, including two others who carried the weight 317 and 318 feet.
By Saturday night, he was off to another competition outside of Salem, where the machines haul around 45,000 to 57,000 pounds.
Gazing at his 1959 tractor that he carts around in a customized trailer that includes sleeping quarters for him and his wife, Jenny, Shoobridge said the piece of farming equipment was originally designed to produce 52 horsepower. But his slick machine puts out a little less than 1,000 horsepower when it's fed the alcohol fuel that boosts the power.
''When you're from a rural area like me, this is a popular motor sport,'' Shoobridge said. ''This is only the third time out with this tractor.''
Shoobridge, who took home another first place in Canada about a month ago, said he only recently bought his latest turbo-charged pulling machine - known as the ''Kickin' Chicken'' - from a good friend and competitor in Kentucky. He sold his last machine to someone in Richmond, Ind.
Dustin Swartfinger of Knox, Pa., drives his blue 1994 Dodge entered in Saturday’s Truck Pull at the Trumbull County Fair.
Tribune Chronicle photos / Christopher Bobby
But the new tractor is ''totally tweaked,'' Shoobridge said, while carefully checking the air pressure in his two massive rear wheels.
''If one of these tires is in the sun and the other in the shade, there might be five pounds difference. That's enough to throw you off. It's all about equalizing things,'' he said.
For someone who build Fords for more than 33 years, his retirement hasn't seen much of a let up. Shoobridge and his son, Scott, a mechanical design engineer, also operate E&S Motor Sports out of Riley, Mich.
If you go
What: Trumbull County Fair
When: Ends today
Where: 899 Everett Hull Road, Cortland
Info: 330-637-6010, trumbullcountyfair.com
Admission: $8; senior citizen, $4
2 p.m. - Auto racing: RUSH dirt late model touring series and e-mods (rescheduled from Wednesday)
5 p.m. - Demo derby
10 p.m. - Fireworks