Story by Darren Heartwell
John Strickland, along with team owners Earl and Peggy Wells, seized their first Grand National Championship in 2016 with the “GALOT II” AGCO.
John began his pulling career 13 years ago in the Super Farm division. He stated, “We have been chasing two goals since we started pulling Super Farm: winning a GN title and a Bowling Green ring. We’ve been close but haven’t achieved them until this year.
“It was a successful season but it was not easy. It took a lot of work to get the championship! Several people told Mr. Wells that the only way he would win a GN championship was with a V-8. With Earl’s determination and Brent Payne’s determination we were able to do it with a six-cylinder.”
The GALOT team started the season at the Mule City 300, the event that they promote and hold at the GALOT Motorsports Park in Benson, North Carolina. John took the victory in the first session and finished third on Saturday night.
He finished second in Session One at the Budweiser Dairyland Super Nationals in Tomah, Wisconsin to take an early points lead. He won the second hook in Tomah to extend the lead. In Ionia, Michigan he won on Friday night and finished fourth on Saturday night.
The first session at Fort Recovery, Ohio was rained out, but John finished third on Saturday night, then third again in Monroe, Michigan. The only time all season that this tractor finished outside the top five was in Salem, Illinois—a ninth-place finish. This dropped the team into a tie for the GN points lead heading into the National Tractor Pulling Championships in Bowling Green.
John finished second in the first session, putting him into second place behind the winner, Terry Blackbourn’s “Extremely Armed & Dangerous.” He finished second again on Saturday afternoon to pull back into a first-place tie with Blackbourn with three hooks remaining. To cap the weekend, he earned his first Bowling Green championship ring with a win on Super Sunday!
Down the road in Greenville, Ohio the following Tuesday and Wednesday, Brent Payne piloted the “GALOT” team tractor to his first win of the year. Meanwhile, John parked “GALOT II” in fifth and back in sole possession of first place. John extended the lead with a victory in Session Two. At this point, recalled John, Mr. Wells stated: “Leave for Wellington now and drive 35 mph to make sure you make it there!” Strickland clinched the title in dominating fashion by taking the win at the Friday Night Spectacular in Wellington, Ohio.
John would like to thank team owners Earl and Peggy Wells, John’s father-in-law and mother-in-law, his wife Dana, son Holt, and daughter Janalee. He would also like to thank Brent Payne, his wife Lee and children—Annabelle, Johnny and Jack—and the crew at GMS—Joe Ferneding, Dennis Payne, Dan Lyons, Timmy Hettrich, Craig Gettinger, Andy Smith, Austin Engel, Kevin Hall, and Ted Grassmick,
The GALOT Team also acknowledges GMS, GALOT Motorsports, CM Pulling Tires, Humpco Machine, Keating Machine, HPS Cylinder Head, Cen-Pe-Co, and Rite Care Scottish Rite of Freemasonry’s Childhood Language Program, Helping Children Communicate-Speech, Language, and Literacy.