At the age of 89, Don Johnsrud isn’t sure how many years he has left tractor pulling in the seat of his 1959 International 460, but he can be assured that his legacy will carry on, thanks to his grandson, Aaron Johnsrud, who at the age of 15 won the 4,100 pulling division at the Crawford County Fair, on Saturday, Aug. 11.
“I’m proud of him,” Don said after Aaron completed a full 220-foot pull, with a Farmall H 460 owned by Aaron’s father, Paul.
“I’ve come in second and third before, but never first. It feels really good to win,” Aaron said.
Aaron wasn’t sure he could beat Shannon Adkins, after she pulled 199-feet on an Oliver 77 right before him. His bright red Farmall H 460 tractor just kept going like the Energizer bunny. As the front wheels lifted off the ground toward the end of the track, he leaned way back in the seat, just the way his grandfather taught him to do. The tried and true method helped Aaron to a full pull, as Grandpa Don was grinning from ear-to-ear just a few feet away.
Don Johnsrud, has been participating in the Crawford County Fair Antique Tractor Pull since 1960. He currently lives in Tennessee, but travels back to Wisconsin every year, to visit family and participate in the annual tractor pull at the fair.
“I’d come back even if there wasn’t a tractor pull, but it’s just icing on the cake that the event has lasted this many years,” Don said.
Long before Don’s weight class division came along he was propped up in the driver's seat of his 1959 International 460, ready to take his shot at the pulling title. After 52 years of pulling, Don is a local favorite and proud supporter of the sport.
Over the past five decades of pulling he’s had his best luck pulling with red, but has also been spotted on John Deere Green and on an old Allis Chalmers, that he bought for $100, after pulling it out of the weeds and setting it up for the sport.
Don has made many lifelong friends through his years on the track. He never traveled long distances to pull, but his name is known to many in Western Wisconsin. Now, with his grandson now on the tractor pulling circuit, Don, can rest assured that the family tradition will continue.
Aaron, an incoming freshman at North Crawford, just wants to make his grandfather proud and keep the family tradition alive for years to come.
“Grandpa is my idol. He’s the reason I started pulling and someday I’ll be driving his 1959 International 460 tractor and keeping the family legacy alive and well at the Crawford County Fair. Grandpa can be assured of that,” Aaron said.
“Do a good job, but make sure and have fun when you’re doing it. That’s my advice to Aaron and all tractor pullers,” Grandpa Don said.
Don thanks God every night for giving him another day on earth and the ability to get around.
So if God is listening, all Don’s fans can rest assured that he will be back in the seat of his 1959 International 460, pulling again at the 156th Crawford County Fair in August 2014.