We report with great sadness of the passing on Saturday, March 28 of Bruce Owen Hutcherson Jr., 78, of Patriot, Indiana. Mr. Hutcherson was an eight-time Grand National champion with several configurations of his "Makin' Bacon Special" Modifieds and a 1990 inductee into the Pulling Hall of Fame.
Mr. Hutcherson grew up on his parents' dairy, beef, and grain farm near Patriot, a village along the Ohio River in southeastern Indiana. After graduating from Purdue University, Mr. Hutcherson started out as a science, industrial arts, and agriculture teacher at his hometown high school. After six years, he devoted himself for the next three-and-a-half decades to full-time farming, a career which he eventually augmented with a farm machinery and school bus repair business after his pulling career concluded. In 2009, Mr. Hutcherson earned the Silver Star Lifetime Achievement Award from the Switzerland County Soil and Water Conservation District.
At its height, the Hutchersons' farming operation involved 5,000 acres including 2,300 acres of row crops across parts of 11 family farms from Switzerland to Ohio Counties. He grew corn, soybeans, wheat, and hay for over 200 cows. And, of course, the pigs---as many as 10,000 of them at a time, including 425 sows---that were the inspiration for the iconic name Mr. Hutcherson drove deeply into the NTPA record books.
His 14-year pulling career began in 1975 with a single, carbureted big-block Chevrolet in front of automatic and Farmall M transmissions. By 1976, he had built the first "Makin' Bacon" from an Oliver 88 rear and a fuel injected BBC and claimed the 1977 5,200-lb. Grand National Modified title as well as the Region IV 5,200- and 7,200-lb. championships. For 1979, the Chevy was fitted with a supercharger for national competition. A second "Special," though, came along in 1978 and married a John Deere log-skidder rear to an aluminum chassis built by ProTrac, the Fort Wayne fab shop previously famous for Modified Mini frames. Mr. Hutcherson installed two inline Rodecks while competing in the 5,200, 7,200-, and 9,200-lb. classes and winning the lightweight division.
Then, in 1980, a heavy-duty Rockwell replaced the skidder and a Miller Brothers chrome-moly frame supplanted the ProTrac to allow Mr. Hutcherson to run with four engines starting at 7,200-lb., making him the first to achieve that distinction upon "The Pig""s debut. By the end of that machine's third campaign, it had achieved six Grand National Modified titles: the 7,200-, 9,200-, and 12,200-lb. of 1981 and the 5,200-, 7,200-, and 9,200-lb. of 1982 (along with five regional championships in that span). For the first three titles, Mr. Hutcherson was named the Modified Puller of the Year; during the last three, he earned the Hooker of the Year Award as the sport's most prolific puller in national competition.
1984's edition of "Makin' Bacon Special" ran the gamut from two to five engines aboard an Engler chassis with Banter crossboxes and became a fixture on the indoor winter pulling circuit. Along with the Modifieds, Mr. Hutcherson also competed in the formative years of Two Wheel Drives with the "Super Scooter" Dodge Rampage which eventually, like his Mods, assumed the colors of Carhartt sponsorship.
Surviving is Jill, Mr. Hutcherson's wife of 54 years, their daughter Kim and her husband Sean, their son Joe and his wife Jeanne, his sister Carol Ann Armstrong, seven grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, and many nieces, nephews, and cousins. Mr. Hutcherson's full obituary may be found here.
A celebration of Mr. Hutcherson's life is planned for this summer. Memorial contributions may be made to the Mr. Bruce Owen Hutcherson Jr. Endowment Fund, c/o CFCSI. Sympathy may be expressed and contributions made at the Haskell and Morrison Funeral Home website.
Please keep Jill and the entire Hutcherson family close by in your thoughts during their time of sorrow.