Dennis Brabec | 1996


Dennis Brabec | 1996

The other competitor who was inducted in the Pulling Hall of Fame is Dennis Brabec. Iowa claims this native son. He pulled for nearly two and one-half decades of official NTPA pulling in the Super Stock division, but that does not count the years he was pulling farm stock in the 1960s before NTPA was formed.

We suspect that longtime fans of the sport are familiar with Dennis's first "orange" tractor, an AC 180 diesel that he called Country Dude. It was a tractor he and his brother Allan had owned since the early 1970's. They converted it to a pulling tractor with the help of that grand old man of "orange" tractors, Noble Harrison.

Whatever you think about "orange" tractors today versus the "red" ones, or the "green" ones, back in the 1970s and into the 1980s, Allis Chalmers dominated the light classes just like the "reds" and "greens" dominated the heavy classes. AC's were killer pulling machines and the IH's and the JDs knew it. Country Dude sure fit right into that mold. It was a killer all right.

Dennis has the distinction of being the first puller to use a three-charger system in the 5 class. As he told The Puller in an interview back in 1985, "At first, no one knew we'd done it for sure, because we left all the piping coming out from under the hood the same." But, soon, the other pullers figured it out, especially when they saw the Dude run and they ended up eating its dust.

Another "first" Dennis can claim in the 5 class is the use of bigger tires. The majority at the time were running 24.5 x 32 tires, but when Dennis rolled into a pull with 30.5 x 32 tires on Country Dude, everybody said that those tires were way too big to be effective. Come the end of the season, those same pullers were singing a different tune.

He won his first title with that threecharger setup on Country Dude and those larger tires in 1976, in the 5200 lb. class. He got to that pinnacle by winning 14 out of 16 hooks and in addition he was voted Puller of the Year by those same pullers who he had been beating the tar out of all summer long.

Two years later, in 1978, he was co-champion in the 5500 lb. class with Dave Thompson. But a year later, Dennis had the 55 crown all to himself, making it back-to-back titles. In 1980, he won the 55 class yet again, giving the Laurens, IA resident a hallowed three-peat.

He came back in 1982 and took his fifth title, again in that favorite class of his, the 55 class. He finished in the top five the next year, then roared back in 1984 to take his sixth title. Finally in 1987, he pulled down his seventh Super Stock title, the last in his career. That seventh title was a high water mark for him as it put him third on the all-time list in the Super Stock division. Only Danny Dean and the late John Klug, who is also a Pulling Hall of Fame member, have more titles, putting Dennis in pretty elite pulling company.

But Country Dude was not the only tractor to take up residence in Dennis's stable. In 1985, he added an AC 8050, with a 426 cid engine, that he campaigned in the heavier Super classes, He called it The Imposter. He drove that ride, which had a four-turbo setup on it, right up through the end of the 1994 competition season, the year he hung up his pulling gloves and retired from the sport.

When not battling tough pulling banditos on the track, Dennis's career included his contribution back to the sport, thus his service on the NTPA Executive Board from 1981 through 1985, the last three. years serving as NTPA president, Dennis was also active for a number of years in the Iowa Tractor Pullers Association, his member state, serving on its Board of Directors.

Dennis always took his duties on the NTPA Board very serious and said, explaining his time spent on the Board as president, "that it was an honor to serve." He indicated in an interview published some years back in The Puller that, as president, he tried to lead "by example."

He always liked the sport. He told The Puller one time that the friends who had helped him and the chance to return that help meant as much to him as the victories. "I know everybody says it," he said, "but it's true. The people make it worthwhile."

Unfortunately, Dennis was not able to attend the induction ceremonies in Las Vegas because of a hip injury that he sustained from a fall on the ice. Reached at home after those ceremonies, Dennis said, "That it was a great honor to be selected for the Pulling Hall of Fame." He continued, "My first re-action was one of surprise. Then as it finally sank in, it made you feel good that people appreciated your efforts in the sport. It certainly isn't something you expect to happen to you. Then when it does, you're just so appreciative of those that made the honor possible."

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