Kenny Mack | 2010
Kenny Mack | 2010
Our second inductee into the NTPA Pulling Hall of Fame has had a major influence on pullers, promoters and spectators from the Midwest for over 40 years. Some might call him one of the sport's great story tellers, as his cranium houses thousands of stories over five decades in the sport - and he can vividly recant each memory like it was yesterday; others would call him NTPA's unofficial historian, as his knowledge and recall of people, places, and facts are truly unrivaled; but Wisconsin native Kenny Mack, our second Hall of Fame inductee, will be first and foremost thought of as an informed and insightful trackside announcer who kept the NTPA patrons knowledgeable and in step with the pulling action.
Growing up in Wisconsin on a farm and driving a tractor from the age of seven, pulling was a natural progression, but the sport came calling in Mack's life in an unusual manner. Mack, working at a local implement dealer in Sun Prairie, was sent by his employer across the Badger state to many pulling events utilizing stone boats or step on sleds to assist with the dealership's myrid of tractors competing at each event. The involvement of the dealership was a simple marketing plan - it helped sell new tractors to farmers watching the various tractors compete. Some of the competitors were crying foul, as the dealership Mack worked for would bring several tractors in on one trailer to compete. They did well by having multiple vehicles competing; however, with the tractors being new and under warranty, the "sheer number" advantage the dealership had gave way to those competitors who could alter their engines without worrying about the warranty - something Mack's employer had to take into account. The times were changing in pulling indeed, but this humble beginning is where Kenny Mack gained his introduction to the sport
Around 1969 - the same year as NTPA's birth - Mack and several interested Wisconsin pullers decided that uniformity of rules, safety, and class structure was needed. When these interested parties met, they decided to get organized. It resulted with an eleven member board of directors being established, with Kenny being part of that very first board. This organized group became known as the Wisconsin Tractor Pullers Association.
With WTPA taking charge of pulling in the state of Wisconsin, Kenny worked initially as a track official and flagman. In those days, there was only one flagman who stood at the end of the track. Another duty of this flagman was to help unhook the vehicles from the sled. In 1970, Kenny was seriously injured in an accident in which a pulling tractor backed into him causing several broken ribs and a hurt shoulder. It was that accident plus fate directed Kenny toward his now famous position as trackside announcer.
Announcing for Mack happened much like his intro to the pulling sport - through an interesting circumstance. Sun Prairie, Wisconsin was having its first pulling event at its local dirt speedway. In advertising the pulling event to the fans watching a stock car race at the facility a few days prior to the pull, WTPA was on hand to promote the event. Kenny Mack, being on the board and from the area came to help pass out flyers. The Skaar, Wileman, and Luedtke Families each brought their tractors to hook to Luedtke's Eliminator sled for an exhibition run during the race's intermission. When the race track announcer saw that the time was nearing for the promotional pull, he sought out someone to come up in the booth and help announce the pulling exhibition. Jim Skaar convinced Kenny Mack to go talk with the race track announcer and give play by play and insight to the three exhibition passes. Kenny's never-intended audition to become the voice of Wisconsin Tractor Pullers was cinched that evening as many people left impressed of not only what they saw, but what they heard.
Last summer, Mack celebrated 40 years of announcing excellence - a successful, ongoing career in which Mack never planned. He has been involved in many events throughout the US and Canada over the years, with Mack enjoying every moment of it.
Kenny Mack was a steady figure in WTPA, serving the board for over three decades and being the president for 12 years of those years. as well as representing WTPA on the NTPA Full Board of Directors for several years. Mack was also on the WTPA Board when it joined NTPA to strengthen national pulling recognition. Mack was also part of the Elkhorn, Wisconsin event getting off of the ground so that the state would have a class A level NTPA national event in 1974. Kenny was one of four individuals receiving Wisconsin Tractor Pullers Association's "Lifetime Memberships" for being involved in the sport in the state from day one, something that he is humbly proud of. Mack also spent six years on the NTPA Executive Board of Directors in the late '80s through early '90s, serving the board as secretary.
Certainly Kenny Mack has made a positive, impressionable mark on the sport as one of the early trailblazers from Wisconsin through his actions on the board of directors and his earnest, undying commitment and service to NTPA pullers, promoters, and fans. Tonight, pulling's great storyteller becomes the subject matter - writing yet another chapter in his continuing story.