Duel of the Fuels: The Sequel

Published: February 11, 2022 Updated: December 6, 2023
The Duel of the Fuels was the most anticipated class in the 2020 Championship Tractor Pull. It brought together the best-of-the-best, combining the alcohol and diesel Super Stock Tractor class into one epic showdown. In the inaugural event, alcohol tractors secured the top two places, edging out diesel with a combination of skill and luck.  This year’s competition promises to be just as thrilling. To get the scoop on this year’s face-off, we spoke to some of the top finishers from 2020’s Saturday night finals.  The 2020 Grand Champion Galot II is back! Driver John Strickland is humble about the accomplishment giving most of the credit to his team, from mechanic Brent Payne to everyone who prepped the tractor in Louisville.  “It’s not always about the tractor with the most horsepower,” said Strickland. “A lot of pulls are won or lost on the starting line.” Small shifts in the track, placement on the starting line and a hundred tiny details make the difference between winning and losing.  Red Horse driven by Steve Blagrave was one of the strongest diesel competitors in the 2020 pull. He’s been competing in the Championship Tractor Pull since 1985, following in his father’s footsteps. His dad started pulling in 1972 with an IH 1066 Diesel, so the choice of fuel is a family legacy. He started pulling diesel tractors when he was only 12-years-old. He knows how to win in Freedom Hall, his pulling team held a three-year winning streak in the early 90s.   “This year we hope to bring enough horsepower, put it to the track and make a good, clean pass,” said Blagrave. For Strickland, the fuel choice was also family tradition. He pulls with his father-in-law, who invested his money in alcohol tractors. Strickland thinks alcohol tractors are a little more forgiving, requiring less full-time maintenance than the diesel machines.   No matter what fuel you’re cheering for, both Strickland and Blagrave have the talent, machines and drive to find the beach in Freedom Hall.