MITCHELL, Neb. – Gary Hunter had been a lifelong fan of truck and tractor pulling, and eight years ago or so, he decided to get into the sport himself.
“I just never had a chance to do it,” Hunter said. “Then I bought one truck and then I bought a second truck.”
Hunter, who runs and owns Cool Customs for the past 35 years, has owned multiple trucks over the years and said he hasn’t had many opportunities to pull this year because of rule changes, making it difficult to find a class in which his truck fits into.
“They made some changes in Colorado, and they’ve changed here,” he said. “There really haven’t been many opportunities to fit in a class. Some of those Kansas bulls are too far. I just don’t have time pulls like that.”
However, one thing never changed, his desire to compete in Mitchell, Nebraska.
“I will always come to Mitchell. I’ve always liked it. I’ve always got a lot of people I know show up,” Hunter said. “Plus, it’s close to home. I can be home within an hour of when they wrap up.”
Hunter says he tries to do the hobby on a budget.
“I bought the truck pretty much set up to rock and roll. Maybe tweak it a little bit, but that’s all I’ve done to it,” he said. “Put a better clutch in it and some other goodies to make it a better truck then when I got it. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.”
Hunter’s truck, named No Time, only has 42,000 actual miles on it and has been pulling since 1982 by his estimates.
“A lot of it is 300 feet at a time,” Hunter said.
He said, if money was no object, he’d get into modified pulling.
“I love doing it. If I had money, I’d be going modified pulling. I love the big block power. I like the noise and the big RPM.
Anymore, most of the modified guys have upwards of a quarter million dollars in a motor alone.
“It’s just not in the budget anymore,” Hunter said. “Some people live this business.”
Despite that, he said the big power under the hood of his truck is what makes pulling so fun.
“It’s not like you’re going fast, but you are controlling a lot of power,” Hunter said. “That’s what gets me going, and it excites me when I get ready to go out. I can get pretty nervous up, especially if I tighten my neck thing up too tight. I can feel my heart beating.”
Hunter has calmed down with more experience pulling over the years.
“I’m a lot calmer now than the first time I did it,” he said. “The first time, it scared the hell out of me. Trying to hit that clutch. That clutch is huge. It’s a dual disc clutch. You’re letting the clutch out at 6,500 RPM. Then I rev it up to 8,400 RPM. That big block is wrapping up pretty hard.
Hunter said No Time has dynoed at 800 horsepower.
Last Wednesday at the Scotts Bluff County Fair, it was Hunter broke out No Time for the first time in 2022 and came away with a second-place finish in the Pro Stock 4×4 division with a pull of 322 feet.
He said the secret to a successful pull comes down to two things – tire pressure and the clutch.
“Getting the air pressure right and depending on how sticky the track is, letting the clutch out just right. The clutch is the key and tire pressures are key,” Hunter said. “I’ll go check out the track to see how sandy it is, if it’s just dirt or what’ve got. I’ll judge my air pressures there.”
On Wednesday, it took him two tries to come away with what was classified as a full pull of more than 300 feet. On his first try, his truck shuts off prior to the 100-foot distance, allowing him to have a second attempt at a pull.
After his run, he said he thought it might have been some sort of electrical problem, but on the second attempt, he managed to get the truck restarted to make the 322-foot pull as the last truck to make a run in the division.
Hunter hopes to get down to Windsor, Colorado for the Rocky Mountain Nationals on Sept. 2-3.
“It’s a big, big, big pull. You’re talking about the big boys down there,” Hunter said. “You’re talking about modified diesels. It’s really cool to go to. I’m so out-leagued over there, it’s pitiful, but it’s still fun to pull.”