The NTPC is promoted by the Northwestern Ohio Tractor Pullers Association (NWOTPA), the veritable backbone of the championships. The NWOTPA was chartered as the Wood County Tractor Pullers in the spring of 1962. There were approximately 20 members, all residents of Wood County, Ohio. In August of 1962 the first speed pull was introduced at the Wood County Fairgrounds. A special long flat bottom sled was built that was designed for men to step on as it went by. Men were lined up on both sides of the track and stepped on the sled as it went by. The tractor that pulled the farthest was declared the winner. Many problems occurred with this type of pulling, specifically men leaving the track during the event and the tractors going too fast for men to step on.
In 1964 the club grew in membership as men from other counties wished to join. It was this year that the name changed to the Northwestern Ohio Tractor Pullers, and new officers were elected.
1967 marked the first year for the National Tractor Pull in Bowling Green, Ohio. It offered three divisions: 5000, 9500, and 14,000 pound mixed, which meant that there were stock and modified tractors running in the division and the only stipulation at the time was the weight.
In 1969, the 18,000 pound free for all division was added. It would be something similar to the unlimited modified division of today. 1970 saw the classes further breakdown into stock and modified divisions in their respective weight classes.
In the fall of 1967, the NWOTPA hired a local man, Merle Grimm to build a weight exchanger or sled. Thus, Heartbreaker I was born; a motorized mechanical weight exchanger designed specifically for tractor pulling. It was soon to be copied by other tractor pulling groups across the nation.
Weight classes for pulling from 1967 to 1974 were 5, 7, 9 and 12, 000 pound. 1975 found the first 12,000 pound open class.
As tractor pulling technology and power evolved in the early 1970’s, it was determined that Heartbreaker I was too small and too light to provide the resistance for the newer and more powerful machines. So in 1974, another local man, Chuck Ziss was hired by the NWOTPA to build Heartbreaker II which would be recognizable to many of you because it was used by our organization until 1995. It was during the mid 70’s that the NWOTPA grew to around 135 members.
1977 saw many changes in the competition at Bowling Green. The stock classes of tractors were replaced by the super stock classes. That year also saw the introduction of the 1550 pound mini-rod (now 1850 pound), and also the first 4 wheel drive trucks.
1978 saw the debut of the monsters of the midway…the unlimited modifieds. 1980’s event introduced the pro-stock class and in 1984 the 2 wheel drive class was born.
The late 1970’s, the 1980’s and early 90’s provided some unique problems for the NWOTPA. Interest in the club as well as the event itself caused our organization to make some important decisions. Membership in the club increased as a correlation to the manpower needed to present an annual national event. As more and more divisions were introduced, there was more prize money to be given away as well as numbers of vehicles, drivers and fans. The organization then decided to seek sponsorship, which proved to increase the awareness of our event and ourselves. Some past presenting sponsors included Budweiser and Busch Beers, Wrangler Jeans and Pioneer Seeds. Another unique feature of the club included our desire to involve other organizations in Bowling Green and the area in our event. Today Otsego FFA helps with parking, the BG Exchange Club had been involved and we are members of the BG Chamber of Commerce.
As vehicles became more sophisticated, so did rules and safety regulations. The NTPC have aligned ourselves with The National Tractor Pullers Association, TNT Motorsports and the United States Hot Rod Association as different sanctioning bodies. These organizations not only provide a fair competition for drivers, but safety regulations to protect driver and fan.
Today, with an estimated crowd of 65,000 for the weekend event, and over $250,000 in purse money and contingency prizes, the NWOTPA boasts a membership limited to 225 led by 9 directors. The membership is totally responsible for all facets of the annual event including lighting and electrical, track building and maintenance, sponsorship procurement, advertising, food service, media relations, security, ticket sales and the list goes on. We are from the country, we are from the city, we are from all walks of life with only one thing in common and that is to bring you the best show we know how.