Growing up, Princeton, Indiana’s Tim Engler was enamored with racing. In 1971 at age 16, Engler built his first modified tractor, a Super M with a Chrysler engine. Being from the Hoosier State, many Modified stars such as the Banter Brothers, Bruce Hutcherson, and Don Harness stole the spotlight as Engler watched and learned over the course of the mid-1970s that would eventually pay off.
Engler progressed to twin and triple Hemi engines on his Modified, and he began to win with consistency. But it wasn’t an easy climb. One summer, Engler broke his Mod 17 times-in-a-row. Many early mornings, Engler would be found at salvage yards looking for replacement pieces. His mother thought the name “Mission Impossible” would be appropriate for the tractor, and so it was. However, Tim was never deterred and was determined as ever. It paid off as Engler wound up being a Modified champion with the Hoosier State Tractor Pullers in various weight categories in 1978, 79, and 80. After that 1980 season, Engler took a couple of seasons off to concentrate on his “Engler Machine and Tool” business, as he was equipped with great ability and skill to turn metal into virtually any shape for any application.
With a blossoming business. Engler was given the means to up his pulling ante when he returned to the sport in 1983. This time, Engler utilized Arias engines on a Modified and this twin powered entry also featured the first Engler Machine and Tool manufactured and designed chrome-moly chassis. After winning both the five and seven thousand pound Hoosier State Modified classes at the Indiana State Fair, Engler knew that he had a winning combination.
Appreciating Engler’s quality and innovation, competitors began seeking out Engler for chassis work. Notable competitors such as Bruce Hutcherson and Ken Lamont were amongst the first Modified and TWD Truck competitors respectively to have Engler build their new rides.
Although Engler ran some nearby NTPA National events, it wasn’t until 1985 that he did so with ferocity. “Mission Impossible” showed up at the Elkhorn, Wisconsin NTPA Grand National with four Arias power plants and won both the 5 and 7 thousand pound categories. However, Engler barely made weight in the 7 class. When he showed up at Tomah the next weekend, he shocked competitors by rolling the tractor out of the hauler with the back pair of motors mounted sideways! His first time out with the transverse set up found Engler making a full pull. Although he did not win an NTPA Grand National title in 1985, his fellow competitors acknowledged him as “Modified Puller of the Year” and “Mechanic of the Year.”
For the 1986 season, Engler showed the best in the Modified class what was in store in Janaury at the Indy Super Pull. His new and improved “Mission Impossible”, capable of carrying up to 5-Arias engines, was not to be denied, winning the 5 and 7 classes. Engler stated in the June 1986 Puller that, “we felt we could build a tractor that would run every class, and with this new one, I think we’ve done it.” It took a record performance in August to get the job done, but by the end of 1986, Engler matched fellow Hoosier and Hall of Fame member Bruce Hutcherson by winning three out of four NTPA Grand National Modified titles in a single season. The only weight category Engler did not win that year was the 9 thousand pound class, but was runner-up behind the Banter Bros, also Hoosiers and Hall of Famers, by 10 points.
With wife Tammy and crewman Billy Giberson, Engler set sail to win a record setting four NTPA Championships in 1987. It was a mission accomplished for “Mission Impossible”. Whether utilizing two, four, or five Arias engines, Engler was undenied, although he will tell you it was the most labor intensive summer of his pulling career after breaking three consecutive weekends. Elkhorn, Wisconsin was the sight for another precursor for the Modified division as Engler dusted off the field in all four weight categories - a feat never done before. He blasted each class by an average of 36 feet on his way to performing quadruple wins. “I don’t think everyone else was as prepared as we were,” said an elated Engler at the time. On route to the championship, Engler would win at least two or three classes at each event. Tim also recorded two victories in the inaugural Enderle Pull-Off, and competed in all four Modified weight categories as well as driving away with a brand new pick-up truck courtesy of the Triple Crown Series. Engler also was voted to the NTPA Executive Board in the Fall of 1987, and served there for six years.
For an encore in 1988, Engler disassemble his trusted steed, and debuted yet another “Mission Impossible” capable of harnessing the power of seven engines - but this time, the power came from Chevrolet. The change was three-fold: economics, maintenance, and challenge. Once again, Engler debuted the machine on the NTPA GN circuit in Elkhorn, and won both weight categories entered. It was off to the races after that, as Engler never looked back winning three out of four titles. That’s ten titles in three years; a legendary performance!
In 1989, Engler had proven much on the NTPA Circuit, and decided not to pursue another points title there. He and wife Tammy were expecting their first child, Tally, and there was the ever-growing business. By the end of 1990, Engler sold the seven engined “Mission Impossible” to Earle Henderson, and turned his attention to sprint car racing. Still, Engler’s presence was felt in several ways, mainly by means of building some of the best rolling chassis in the pulling business. An average of 20 of these chassis, not including other pulling parts come from Engler’s shop yearly. At least three of this year’s NTPA Grand National champions have the Engler Machine and Tool influence. In fact, Engler will confess that he enjoys the accomplishments through others he has done work for versus his own personal accolades.