Friday, February 09, 2018

Q & A with Jeff Hothem

Jeff Hothem from Dellroy, Ohio, in the USA. Jeff is the owner and driver of the John Deere Unlimited Super Stock Tractor called ,"Blaster / Napa Auto Parts Fully Loaded". He's also the current Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League Champion of the Unlimited Super Stock class of 2017.

pullingworld.com: What are you doing in your normal life?
Jeff Hothem: I work full time off the farm, and do my best to balance work, farming, tractor pulling and family time.

 pullingworld.com: What do you like to do in your free time, except Tractor Pulling? 
Jeff Hothem: As any puller knows, free time is not very plentiful, especially when trying to balance all events in life.  But, with that being said, spending time with friends and family, singing karaoke, and hanging out by a fire in the summer with a few beverages. The occasional get-a-way vacation is awesome too!

pullingworld.com: What do you like about Tractor Pulling?
Jeff Hothem: Tractor Pulling is a challenge! I like the competitiveness. I enjoy working on the Tractor and trying to make it perform at it best potential. I enjoy putting on a show for the fans especially the kids!  And I really enjoy the “2nd family” that the pullers themselves create. The relationships with them and the camaraderie that is built throughout the season both on and off the track, during the season and off, is second to none! Some of my best friends have been developed through this great sport!

pullingworld.com: What was your first Tractor Pulling event?
Jeff Hothem: My first ever tractor pulling event that I was a spectator at was probably either the Carroll or Stark County Fair (Ohio) with my Parents and Grandparents and probably before the age of 1!

pullingworld.com: What is your favourite Event / Pulling track?
Jeff Hothem: Boy, its tough to label just one favorite event. We pull primarily on the Lucas Oil Pro Pulling Champions Tour.  With that being said, my most favorite event would have to be the Hillsboro Charity Pull, in Hillsboro Wisconsin. It is a superb two day event with 4 sessions of great Pulling action! The Slama family and friends do a tremendous job and grow every year, making each year a bigger success! My most favorite track would have to be Louisville KY, for the National Farm Machinery Show Championship Pull. At that track, you really can wind her up and let her eat!! 

pullingworld.com: When and where do you have driven a Pulling Tractor for the first time?
Jeff Hothem: My first Tractor Pulling event that I participated in was in Greenville, Ohio in September of 2001.  It was a local county fair Tractor Pull and my first time ever on a Pulling vehicle let alone a Diesel Super Stock which we later purchased and named it Loaded Gun.  

pullingworld.com: What was your biggest success?
Jeff Hothem: Our Team has been blessed with many successes throughout our Pulling career. In the beginning being named Super Stock Puller of the Year in ’03 and ’05 and the Points Champion in ’05 on the Ohio State Tractor Pullers State Circuit. Then on the National Level through the Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League Champions Tour we were bestowed the honor of being named the Lucas Oil Puller of the Year in 2015. Then the following two years we were fortunate enough to obtain Back to Back National Points Championships in 2016 + 2017 in the Unlimited Super Stock Class.

pullingworld.com: Which Pulling classes do you like too?
Jeff Hothem: Besides, the obvious, the Unlimited Super Stock Class, I like to watch the Semi Truck Classes, the Mini Modified classes, and the Pro Stock Diesel Tractor Classes.

pullingworld.com: What was your biggest disappointment?
Jeff Hothem: I like to do my best to stay positive and not focus on disappointments.  However, and this may not be really a disappointment as much as a “had hoped for better”;  the sport of Truck and Tractor Pulling itself.  Our sport seems to be struggling to gain attention and notoriety in our sport in the world when compared to other motorsports. And it doesn’t make sense as to why. It’s a relatively inexpensive sport for the spectator to come and see especially in comparison to other motorsports. I believe we put on a great show with tons of variety. Most of the pit areas are open so the spectator can come and get up close to the Pulling vehicles, meet the crew members, and drivers and ask questions and purchase and/or receive free souvenirs.

pullingworld.com: Which things must be changed in the future of the Tractor Pulling sport?
Jeff Hothem: We, as pullers, need to strive to gain awareness of our sport. Whether it be through social media, web pages, actively seeking out sponsorships from local, national, or global companies. We need to make the Pulling event more interactive/fun for the spectators. If you think about it we are more “entertainers”. We are paid to put on a show. If the crowd isn’t “into it”, or have a memorable time at the event, they may not come back. They may not have to have had a bad experience, but if not a memorable experience, they may not remember about the event next time or may chose to do something else instead. I think we need to add music to the pulls (in the USA most pulls do not have this yet), maybe have some type of “entertainment” during the down time between pulls other than the announcer just talking. Take Professional Rodeo’s for example. During the downtime, they have some type of act that the rodeo clown is involved in. This might seem a little far fetched for us in Tractor Pulling, but it’s the idea I’m referring too. The rodeo clown reduces the amount of perceived down time between events for adults and children to enjoy as the next event (Pulling class) is being set up. This brings up another good point… the kids! If they have something that they enjoy and have a “memorable” experience (even if they aren’t fascinated by Pulling vehicles and Pulling in general) they will want to come back to see the “rodeo clown”. If the kids want to come, then too will the parents and vice versa.  

pullingworld.com: What are your plans for the future in Tractor Pulling?
Jeff Hothem: Our plans for the future of Tractor Pulling are this: To provide the fans with professional and quality entertainment in a competitive environment that will continue to propel the sport of Truck and Tractor Pulling while promoting our current and future sponsors and Team in an effort to gain National and Global recognition and awareness of this great sport!

pullingworld.com: What was for you the most important moment in the sport?
Jeff Hothem: There are several most important moments in the sport, but probably the most important moment was the times my Dad was willing and able to assist me in purchasing the first Diesel Tractor (Loaded Gun) and the help he and my Mom have provided to make the Team what is today. My Dad passed away in March of 2016 and is greatly missed.  

pullingworld.com: What was your favourite Pulling Tractor project in the workshop during a winter?
Jeff Hothem: Simple answer… IMPROVEMENTS!!!

pullingworld.com: Something you want to say? 
Jeff Hothem: I need to thank my crew, Mom, Austin Baker, and our team member Oliver (the family dog). They help me out so much that if it wasn’t for them I’m not sure how I would be able to handle everything.  REI, Karlen Motorsports Chassis,  Humpco Machine, and Blackbourn Racing.  Also our sponsors , B’laster Corporation, Brechbuhler Scales/B-Tek Scales, NAPA Auto Parts, Canton Towing, and Clevite Bearings.  Also need to thank the fans, sponsosrs and promoters of the events  for their continued support allowing us to do what we love to do…  TRACTOR PULLING!

pullingworld.com: Thank you for your time and good luck this year !

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