Of all the vehicles that have ever competed in the sport of pulling, this year's inductees had one of the most famous, if not the most recognized and remembered of them all. Just mention its name and the memories come flooding back to fans of
pulling in the early 1970s.
It was called Solid Junk. Dave Stangle drove it and Ron Perry owned it. In 1974, the team won the 12,000 lb. Super Stock class by a lead of 103 points. They simply annihilated the competition that year in the heavy class, and in so doing they hauled home a Grand National points title. But that wasn't Dave's last day in the sun. In 1977, he was Hooker of Year.
Then there are the honors Ron and Dave collected at NTPA's former highlight event, the Indy Super Pull. The team was unbeatable in the 12,000 lb. class, winning it three years running, from 1975-1977. Plus, in 1976, the team took the crown in the 9000 lb. class.
But what about Solid Junk, you ask? What kind of tractor was it? Well, it was a Minneapolis Moline G- 1000, it had a
504 cid engine and it ran on alcohol. Yes, but was it junk? People thought as much from its looks, but not the pullers who
pulled against it. They knew better. They knew that looks could be deceiving, and in the case of Solid Junk they knew looks could be a down right lie with regard to tractor performance.
The most you could say about it was that it just lacked a coat of paint, which Dave was always quick to point out to the novice fan, never made any tractor he'd ever seen go any farther. The man should know. He started pulling in 1957.
But wait just a darn minute. Whoever called Babe Ruth, George Herman Ruth? Or whoever called Bear Bryant, Paul Bryant? Just as many figures in the world of sports have nicknames that were better known than their real name, so,
too, with David Stangle. Nobody called him Dave. He was known far and wide to friends and foe alike as "Boom, Boom" Stangle. It was a nickname he picked up at a pull in Harrisburg, Pa. when in the middle of a run, his engine detonated, scaring the bejesus out of spectators and thereby sticking Dave with his nickname.
Be that as it may, all nicknames aside, when he was at the wheel of Solid Junk and the chain was tightened, every puller knew they had a whale of a fight on their hands. With that 5,000 rpm Switzer turbo pumping air to the engine as more fuel went in, folks just knew there was power in Solid Junk that far outweighed its less than photogenic appearance.
All we can say is that they just don't make tractors anymore that look like that. And maybe thank goodness they don't. We just know one thing for sure. It was unique in appearance and performance. And to heck with paint. Who needs it. Ron and Dave proved they didn't.
We were able to contact Ron Perry to ask him about the honor. He told us that he and Dave really appreciated the honor and were both very happy about it.
"We met a lot of nice people in pulling when we were in the sport. Had a lot of fun. And did a lot of hard work.
Perry said that during one season, probably in 1972 or 1973, when they were in their heyday, they had 25 wins out of 28 hooks. "Nobody could beat us," Perry said. "Dave was just a good driver.
In fact Perry said, the first place the tractor ever hooked, which was at the Indiana State Fair, Perry said he couldn't go, so Stangle took the tractor. He won the 9000 lb. class and the 12,000 lb. class. Perry said Dave did pretty good his first time out - double wins. Perry said that after that performance he figured Dave was a pretty good driver.
We asked about the seat on Solid Junk. Perry said Dave wanted it that way, with no seat, just springs to sit on. The way Dave looked at it, according to Perry, was that "it never got hot in the sun and it didn't get wet in the rain.”