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Don Williams helps prepare the track at the Lexington Motorsports Park for the return of the Lexington Tractor Pull this weekend. [COURTESY PHOTO]

LEXINGTON — The Lexington Fire Department's annual truck and tractor pull drew large crowds to the small Lauderdale County town for 30 years, and the revenues generated helped the department purchase everything from buildings to equipment.

About 11 years ago, however, interest waned and there weren't enough volunteers to put on the show, Fire Chief Tony Ritter said.

"The first year they had it was 1978," he  said.

This weekend, however, the Lexington Truck and Tractor Pull makes its return to Lexington Motorsports Park, the same location the event was held in the past.

Ritter said he became a volunteer firefighter in Lexington in 1988 after he turned 18. He helped with the event until it ended in 2008. Ritter said the pull used to draw a lot of support from the community, and other fire departments would lend their support.

"We went to mayor (Sandra) Burroughs last year and said we'd like to bring the tractor pull back," Ritter said.

Burroughs said she had some concern when firefighters first approached her. The first year she was mayor, she said "no." The second year, that changed to "maybe," and the third year, she agreed to restart the event.

"I really didn't know if it was still a popular enough event that we could put it on and make money," Burroughs said. "And I was concerned about the manpower to put one on. I was wrong."

Burroughs said she's been pleasantly surprised by the outpouring of support from the community as volunteers prepared the park for the event. Farmer Don Williams is helping prep the track, and businessman Sam Newton has provided sponsorship money and encouraged other businesses to do the same.

"The participation, sponsorship and sense of volunteerism has been out of the park," Burroughs said. "I would not have imagined we'd have as much sponsorship money as we've raised."

She set a goal of $20,000 and ended up raising $37,000.

"It's rekindled this whole new spirit of giving," she said.

The tractor pull begins at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Admission is $15 for ages 13 and older, and $10 for children 6 to 12 years old.

A news release indicated the event received attention from ESPN and a mention in Vogue magazine on its list of unusual places to meet men.

This year's event is a Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League event sanctioned by the Mid-South Pullers Association. It will have six sanctioned classes each night with the stock gas trucks pulling on Friday night, and stock diesel trucks pulling Saturday night after the sanctioned classes are complete.

Truck and tractor pulling is the only motorsport where victory is measured by distance. It is known as the world's most powerful motorsport due to the multi-engine modified vehicles.

The Lexington Motorsports Park is located at 123 McGuire Lane.

russ.corey@timesdaily.com

or 256-740-5738. Twitter

@TD_.RussCorey

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