Limerick Racecourse is to host what is being billed as one of the most powerful sports in the world when the All Ireland Tractor Pulling Championships rolls into town this Sunday.
It is being organised by the Patrickswell Community Council, with all proceeds going towards the development of a community centre in the village.
A six-acre site was recently purchased which will house the community centre and a new GAA pitch.
As well as the tractor pulling championship, there will also be a wide range of activities for all the family, including a dog show, an art competition, tug-of-war, vintage tractor and car display, fun fair and live music.
“The day really promises to be a great day out for all the family with a wide range of events, trade stands and attractions to suit all ages,” said Mike Ahern, PRO of Patrickswell Community Council.
“Our main attraction on the day is the All Ireland Tractor Pulling Championships which is recognised as the most powerful sports in the world and has a vast following within all five continents,” he explained.
The sport of tractor pulling originated in the United States during the start of the last century but has advanced hugely since first started when they used a dead-weight-sled. The sled was connected to the tractor with a chain, the tractor took off with the sled or it lost grip and dug itself into the track.
Later on the organisers came up with the idea to make the sled heavier by adding human volunteers as it travelled along the track.
The sled was called a step-on-sled. The further the distance covered, the higher the position within the competition. If a tractor made it to the end of the track this was called a full pull, which qualified for the finals of that day.
As tractors became bigger and more powerful finding volunteers became harder, because the step-on-sled was going faster and safety became an issue. To solve this problem the weight-transfer-machine was developed. This sled had wheels at the rear end and at the start of the pull the weights are placed above the wheels. When the tractor starts to pull the weights are transported forward towards the sled-plate by a chain. As friction increases between the sled-plate and the tractor, this results in the tractor losing grip. This principle is still being used today.
The best pull is achieved when the tractor has a quick start. At the start of the track the sled is easy to pull, so a lot of speed can be developed. Nowadays a tractor can pull the sled about 70-80 meters before it kills the tractor’s engine.
The annual dog show is also set to be lots of fun, with a total of 15 classes ranging from best groomed dog to the dog with the waggiest tail.
Gates open at 10am on Sunday and admission is €10 for adults, with under-16 going free. A special early bird rate of two tickets for€15 is available from the Patrickswell Community Council Facebook page or eventbrite.ie
Also taking place in the racecourse this weekend is the inaugural Jackie Houlihan Memorial Race. Named in honour of the renowned cross country runner from Patrickswell who died in 2012, the event will include adult and U16 categories for both men and women.
It is being organised by Patrickswell GAA club and the community council and, again, all proceeds will go towards the community centre development.
More details are available from Patrickswell Community Resource Centre at 061-320303 (Monday – Friday 9am-4pm) or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org