Tractor pulling is a family tradition for the Darlage family.
“It’s been something our family has always done,” Chad Darlage said. “Our dad has been doing it forever and so have we.”
The team from Seymour, Chad and Clayton, along with their father Dave, are known as Show Time and have competed together for as long as they can remember, sometimes under a different name. They also have help from friend Tyler Edwards.
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Another tradition for the family is competing at the Grassy Fork Volunteer Fire Department annual truck and tractor pull.
Tonight, Clayton will be in the seat and compete in the limited pro stock tractor pull sanctioned by the Pro Pulling League at the 52nd annual event that runs through Saturday.
“We change out who drives every other year,” Chad said.”I did it last year, so it’s Clayton’s turn to hook it up this year.”
There’s also a sense of nostalgia about setting foot on the dirt at Tampico and climbing into the cab.
This is where the team began, where they’ve spent so much time together and the roots of their passion for pulling began.
And when the thick black smoke billows and loud engines roar at Tampico, the family considers it the official start of the pulling season has begun.
“That is where we went to start things off and always started our season of tractor pulling. It was always first,” Chad said. “It’s part of my childhood and my first pull was here at Tampico.”
He said competitors and spectators around the Pro Pulling League circuit in other states talk about the pulls at Tampico.
“Where else can you go for free and just not pay to get in?” he said, adding some families would have to spend $100 to get into pulls at other pulls. “That’s a big deal. We like tractor pulling and Tampico is where you want to go.”
Not only has attendance gone up throughout the years, but the number of competitors has too, Chad said. It has created an interesting dynamic because now instead of pulling against local competitors, the pulls draw people from the region.
“You compete from people of different states and it makes you feel like you’re beating a lot more competition,” he said. “Used to, you’d have to go somewhere else to do that, but now you can do it here.”
Clayton agreed and said there have been many people they’ve come across along the way and feeds the competitive spirit.
“Tractor pulling is an avenue for competition that I have been around for my entire life,” he said. “It has created many joyful memories alongside of family and friends that I will never forget.”
The team has enjoyed success too, capturing a few wins and the last five years have included several second places. Getting behind the wheel and pulling sends adrenaline through Chad’s body.
“I enjoy the ride because it’s a good rush,” he said. “You also get to meet a lot of people around the state and make a lot of friends. People have different hobbies and this is one of our hobbies.”
What’s more important is the time spent together. The sport of tractor pulling has kept the family close.
“Our family is so family-oriented and this keeps us close together,” he said. “This is one thing we all do together.”
Spending time together is valuable, Clayton said, and he also considers his older brother a mentor and role model.
“Being able to compete with him is awesome,” he said. “Chad is our primary mechanic and honestly I couldn’t imagine tractor pulling without him.”
Clayton said he can remember the two getting their start in pulling when they were in elementary and junior high school.
“We began competing in garden tractor pulls and lower level farm classes when we were still in elementary and middle school,” he said. “As we grew towards our mid-teens, dad would let us start driving in the upper level classes that he had been competing in for several decades.”
There are families just like theirs throughout the state and region, Clayton said. That fuels a competitive spirit in good fun.
“Competing in tractor pulls is in our blood,” he said. “A few of the rivalries may run two and three generations deep.”
The team used to compete in the PPL circuit schedule, which included about 30 pulls a year. Now the team does about 15 to 20 throughout the state of Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky.
“My kids are getting older and getting into 4-H and we have animals, so we’re not able to get away as much,” he said. “Me and Clayton have kids now and you want to see them grow up.”
The family also operates Show Time Performance and Restoration, a company that restores tractors and works on competitive pulling tractors.
“It started with buying a few tractors and restoring and selling them,” Chad said. Once Clayton graduated, he made a website, which has helped the business grow. “There is always something to do in the shop.”
They’ve restored a number of tractors and built pulling tractors.
Dave is married to Becky Darlage and they have three children, Angela, Chad and Clayton.
Chad is married to his wife Carey and they have two children, Addison and Isaac.
Clayton is married his wife Brittany Daralage and they have two children, Olivia and Charlotte and are expecting another baby.
Dave and Chad operate the family farm and Clayton is principal at Trinity Lutheran High School.
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52nd Annual Grassy Fork Volunteer Fire Department Truck and Tractor Pull and Fish Fry
Free admission and free parking.
Friday, June 15, 7 p.m.
11,500 open farm tractors
Hot Farm Tractors – PPL Midwest Region*
Limited Pro Stock Tractors – PPL Midwest Region*
Pro Stock Tractors – PPL Champions Tour
Saturday, June 16, 6 p.m.
12,000 – 10 MPH farm stock tractors
12,000 – 14 MPH farm stock tractors
Super Modified 2WD Truck – PPL Midwest Region*
Pro Stock Tractors – PPL Champions Tour
8,000 Open Diesel Truck
*indicates Pro Pull League sanctioned pull.