The WPI/NTPA office was recently notified of the passing on Tuesday, May 26 of Gary Diekman, 72, of Northwood, Ohio. Mr. Diekman most famously competed with various Allison-powered iterations of the "Rat Poison" Modified on Grand and Regional National and state circuits. He was also the father of Modified competitor Brian Diekman.
Following his graduation from Lake High School in northwestern Ohio, Mr. Diekman served in the Army National Guard. He was the proprietor of Gary’s Eastside Automotive until his retirement in 2016.
The name of Mr. Diekman's first Modified, which he debuted in 1980, is lost to history. But somewhere along the line came the first "Rat Poison," because its sequel hit the NTPA and Ohio State Tractor Pullers Association circuits in 1987. He scored his first sanctioned victory in Canadian Tractor Pullers Association competition in Lucknow, Ontario the following July. After transmission troubles delayed the beginning of its 1988 stateside campaign until Plain City, Ohio, the single-V12 "Rat Poison II" claimed fifth in the state association and 13th in the GN 5,200-lb. class. He scored his first regional win just across a border much closer to home---in Monroe, Michigan---in 1992 en route to his first Region II championship in 58 MOD.
Mr. Diekman was satisfied with a dozen cylinders until 1994, when "Rat Poison" first hit the track with twin-Allison power to run in the 7,200-lb. class. He and Brian shared the wheel to claim 12 victories to round out the decade and the National Farm Machinery Show Finals in 1998. Then, the Diekmans upped their game to compete at NTPA's highest level. For competition in the Unlimited division, father and son would add a third aircraft powerplant to "Poison"'s purple frame, and they regularly placed in the top 10 in final standings in both MOD and UNL across a couple of GN stints. In between, they returned to regional competition to win their home territory twice more in 2003 and 2004. Around 2008, Gary ceded the balance of the driving chores to Brian.
In addition to Brian, Mr. Diekman is survived by Judy, his loving wife of 51 years, grandchildren Dakota and Brittney, and his siblings Linda Wamer, William (Margaret), and Deborah Davis. His full obituary may be found here.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Parkinson’s Foundation of Northwest Ohio or Hospice of Northwest Ohio. The family also thanks the ICCU and ICU staff at St. Luke’s Hospital for all their great care.
Our deepest sympathies rest with Mr. Diekman's wife Judy, Brian, and their entire family.