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Drumheller’s Neil Bertsch Drives Vintage John Deere to Victory

Calgary – Taking the furrow less travelled paid off for Neil Bertsch at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Monday night.

As the last driver in Class 5 during the Calgary Stampede’s Vintage Tractor Pull, presented by Cervus Equipment, the farmer from Drumheller, Alta., was looking for some added traction to help pull that 18,000-pound weighted sled.

“The dirt was torn up, so I wanted to stay in the area that had some firmness to it,” Bertsch said of his decision to drive his 1956 John Deere 80 up the side area of the pulling field. This is his third year pulling and he’s used the strategy before. “I try to help other people with it, but they don’t listen. If the dirt’s loose, you won’t get through.”

The play paid off as Bertsch took top spot in his class with a combined pull of 257 feet, three inches. The Stampede’s Vintage Tractor Pull and Vintage Show & Shine saw 31 entrants face off in the Saddledome on Sunday and Monday. Competitors demonstrated the weighted-sled-pulling prowess of their vintage machines, built in 1960 or earlier, at the invitational event. Winners had the highest aggregate scores over two pulls in six classes, which are divided by machine weight.

Another driver familiar with taking the path less travelled is Red Deer’s Jill Cameron. This was the Red Deer financial coach and mother of three’s second year of competing at the Calgary Stampede.

“At the Stampede, I’m the only one (female driver). At some of the local events, I’m not the only woman, but definitely it’s men in the majority,” Cameron said. “The guys are great; they’re very encouraging. The wives are great, too, and at certain points in our history, they would have been the ones driving the tractors.”

Cameron took fourth spot in Class 1, which went to Camrose’s Howard Hildebrand for his pull of 193 feet, two inches. Cameron’s partner, Jeremy Moore, also of Red Deer, repeated his win from last year in Class 4, with a pull of 292 feet, nine inches, with a full pull in the second round.

In the Featherweight Class, Lawrence Gudmundson of Arborg, Man. pulled his way to the top spot with his score of 118 feet, eight inches, Class 2 saw all four competitors complete a full pull of 180 feet on the first round. The class went to Allen Hazenberg of Carbon, Alta., with a combined pull of 293 feet, 11 inches. Dave Corcoran of Rosemary, Alta. drove off with Class 3 honours for his total of 203 feet, 10 inches.

In the Show & Shine component of the event, Terry Dietrich of Barrhead, Alta. took the top spot with his featherweight 1947 Cockshutt 30. The People’s Choice Award went to Red Deer’s Robin Larson for his 1952 Minneapolis Moline Z. For full results, visit TKTKTKTK.

This is Cameron’s fourth summer pulling, and she generally competes in four to five events a season with her “dream machine,” a 1957 Case 610 B.

“It is not a huge tractor, but it’s one you could make look pretty. So that’s what we did. It looks prettier than it runs. It still needs some engine work on it, but it looks good,” Cameron said, and the tractor has oversized eyelashes on the front headlights to prove it.

About the Calgary Stampede
The Calgary Stampede celebrates the people, the animals, the land, the traditions and the values that make up the unique spirit of the west. The Calgary Stampede contributes to the quality of life in Calgary and southern Alberta through our world-renowned 10-day Stampede, year-round facilities, western events and several youth and agriculture programs. Exemplifying the theme We’re Greatest Together; we are a volunteer-supported, not-for-profit community organization that preserves and celebrates our western heritage, cultures and community spirit. All revenue is reinvested into Calgary Stampede programs and facilities.

See more at calgarystampede.com