Ernie Ropp | 1994
Ernie Ropp | 1994
Mr. Ernie Ropp and tractor pulling went together like peas in a pod, or should we say kernels on a corncob, as he, too, was a product of the Hawkeye State.
Ernie's career in the sport spanned nearly four decades. During that time, he served the sport in many ways. First as a competitor, and then on the administrative side, mainly at the state level, where he played an active role in Iowa's pulling organization, the Iowa Tractor Pullers Association. He served as president from 1977 to 1979, and again in 1981.
Fans will remember him as a member of the Iron Elk Pulling Team, who along with his son Warren, won the 1986 title in the Super Stock division in the 7500 lb. class.
John Deere fans hold a special place in their heart for him as his team was one of the few to win a Grand National title with a "green" tractor. And in such dramatic fashion to boot. It was one of the most exciting conclusions in NTPA's history of "come-from-behind" wins,
It wasn't supposed to happen. In the summer of '86, Esdon Lehn and his Red Line Fever were running hard in the 7500 lb. class and had it wrapped up, or so he may have thought. But as they say, the opera ain't over til the pleasing plump lady sings.
Ernie and Warren rolled into Lincoln, NE for the last hook of the season, thinking they had as much chance of taking the title as a snowball's chance of surviving down below. They were stuck in third. They could hardly think of jumping two spots, and putting Lehn and the team of Max Simpson and Keith Haynes in their rearview mirror.
But when the proverbial dust cleared, there they sat in the winner's circle.
Said Warren at the time, "I can't believe we won. It just hasn't sunk in yet."
Another high point in Ernie's life came in the early 1970's when he received the Iowa Sportsmanship Trophy.
Ernie's long career and achievements in pulling were surely indicative of his dedication to the sport.