We honor our 2016 Regional National Divisional Champions, taking a breif look back at their 2016 season. Check back for updates daily.
2016 Region V Two Wheel Drive Champion: Doug Christensen, Glencoe, MN, “Pack Rat VI”
You know you’ve had a pretty good year when you finish 13 points up on three trucks, and even better when two are past Region V champs (A.J. Riedl’s “Shafted” and Corey Kielmeyer’s “Beer Wagon”) and the other is Region III’s reigning champ (Wayne Timmerman’s “Showtime”). But five top fours in seven hooks will do that for you. En route to his second title in this region (2008) and first overall since 2013, Christensen vaulted into the lead after his runner-up finish in New Hampton.
2016 Region V Four Wheel Drive Champion: David O’Connor, Blooming Prairie, MN, “Nasty Habit”
For the second straight year, the region couldn’t kick the “Habit,” though Jamie Busch’s “Thunder Struck” (-1) tried its hardest with wins on consecutive weekends in his hometown Rockwell and nearby New Hampton. But four top-three finishes over those two-hook weekends only got Busch a three-point separation from O’Connor, and at the final hook in Monticello “Nasty Habit” notched its third runner-up while Busch finished sixth. Matthew Davis and Carol Suchy also posted victories.
2016 Region V Super Farm Champion: Phil Kelley, Wexford, PA, “Red-Blooded Binder”
In two years on the circuit, the Keystone State resident Kelley has earned two regional titles in the Hawkeye State. The “Binder” was dominant in 2016, winning not only two out of three Iowa hooks (Decorah, Monticello) but also the Saturday ni— uh, make that Sunday morning session at the 50th NTPC in Bowling Green. With a third and two fourths, Ryan Jensen’s “Ryno” (-4) stayed within striking distance until the final hook in Waverly, which was won by Brian Miller.
2016 Region V Limited Pro Stock Champion: Jeremy Ploetz, Utica, MN, “Big One”
After finishing second in 2015, the “Big One” got to number one on the strengh of victories in Decorah and Waverly (by son Jarod). It was 2014 champ Steve Bousema who swept the season-opener in Rockwell to open a three-point lead on Bill Figanbaum. The win in Winneshiek County started the comeback, however, and by the end of the two-hook New Hampton, the Ploetzes had seized the point lead. Figanbaum and Roger Scalzo’s “Bad to the Bone” (-5) had the division’s other wins.
2016 Region IV Modified Champion: Don Deane, Trafalgar, IN, “Plumbers Nitemare”
Deane’s third Region IV title in four seasons and fifth since 2005 came after a performance that was two points from perfect. “Plumbers Nitemare” opened the season with wins in two Pinetops classes that had the exact same finish order, top to bottom. That clinched an Enderle invitation and established a two-point lead over Glen Hedrick, who drove the Adkins’ “Sly, Slick & Wicked” (-4) all season. The triple turbine then wrapped up the title with a fourth and a fifth in Raleigh.
2016 Region V Heavy Super Stock Diesel Champion: Esdon Lehn, Dayton, MN, “Red Line Fever”
It had been 29 years since Lehn had won his last two regional titles, and he delivered his second of this season with top-four finishes in all six hooks. “Red Line Fever” led from the first green flag, scoring a win, a second, and 60 points in Rockwell. A win, a fourth, and 59 more in New Hampton ran Lehn’s lead up to 11 over Guy Blechinger’s “Sleepless Nights” (-40), and there was one more win to come in Monticello. Among regional competitors, Pete McGiffin had the only other W.
2016 Region IV Four Wheel Drive Champion: Kevin Schools, St. Stephens Church, VA, “Jus’ Rutt’n”
Exiting Pinetops with 59 points in hand after a win and a fourth-place finish, Randy Brann was on pace for his third straight title. But Schools, at that time two points back having posted a fifth and third, stuck around through a soggy Saturday at Morgan’s Corner Pulling Park in Elizabeth City. Finishing fourth there was enough for the camouflaged Chevy to clinch the title and an Enderle Pull-Off berth over that night’s winner, David Garrett’s “One More Time” (-2).
2016 Region IV Modified Mini Champion: Ken Bultemeier, Fort Wayne, IN, “WAE Flip Side”
The renamed “Jost Express” of 2015 first earned a 2016 Enderle berth with a third and a fourth at the Pinetops 300 in the spring. But after a summer of rugged Region II competition, Bultemeier was back for more in the fall, when one more third at the NC State Fair earned him his first regional title. Steve Cummings’ “Firing Point” (-6) was the only Mini to finish within single digits of the leader, while Stan Shelton and Dave Lacey were the two regional licensees to score wins.
2016 Region IV Light Pro Stock Champion: Ron Beasley, Moncure, NC, “Farmall Fever”
The first Region IV title for this division went to one of its area pioneers. Beasley had competed for several years in Heavy Super Stock before the first points classes for “Farmall Fever”’s native division were scheduled for this year in Elizabeth City. A win there on Saturday gave Beasley the edge over brother Kendall’s “High Gear Harvester” (-3), and in the lone remaining hook in Raleigh, Ron finished the first championship campaign by taking second to Mark Wiederhold.
2016 Region IV Two Wheel Drive Champion: Steve Willson, Prince Frederick, MD, “Running Bear”
Two wins in three hooks of a rain-shortened schedule propelled Willson to his first regional title and Enderle berth. “Running Bear” set the pace early in Pinetops with a 7’ victory over John Pickler on Friday night. Saturday night was a different story, however, as two-time defending champ Allen Brown’s “Sweet Thang” (-4) put 10’ on the field to take the division lead. Down to one hook in Elizabeth City, Willson again edged Pickler while Brown finished fourth.
2016 Region IV Heavy Super Stock Champion: Marty Harrell, Elm City, NC, “Pure Country”
You can’t get more “Pure” than a perfect score of 120. That’s what Harrell achieved through four hooks, which included wins by double-digit distances in Pinetops in May and a second and third in Raleigh in October. Harrell’s title is his third in five years (2014, 2011) and the ninth for a Massey Ferguson in the last 12 seasons (Robbie Crutchfield 2005-2010). Ronnie Strickland’s “Another Outlaw” (-11) scored 27 points or better in each of its outings.
2016 Region IV Super Farm Champion: Chris Hales, Autryville, NC, “The Outlaw”
In Pinetops, a second and a fourth behind GN competitors Rod and Bryan Deck and Lee Butts gave “The Outlaw” the jump on its regional pursuers. Combined with the Raleigh wraparound, the strong start also stamped Hales’ invitation to the Enderle Pull-Off. He completed the successful defense of his 2015 title with another runner-up finish in Raleigh, this time to Phil Kelley’s “Red-Blooded Binder” (-4). It’s the fifth title overall for “The Outlaw” (2012, 2010, 2006).
2016 Region III Two Wheel Drive Champion: Dennis Christensen, Glencoe, MN, “Pack Rat V”
With back-to-back wins and five top-fives in seven appearances, Christensen earned one of two titles for the Pack Rat team in 2016. Having swept the two-night Miller Genuine Draft Showdown with two vehicles—the “Rat V” truck and the “Rat 4” GN Modified—Doc departed Anoka tied with 2014-2015 champ Wayne Timmerman for the division lead. He then fended off a surging Dale Stampfli’s “Twisted Tight” (-1) which scored 113 points in the final four hooks.
2016 Region III Four Wheel Drive Champion: Carol Suchy, Inver Grove Heights, MN, “Totally Geared”
Suchy led for the first time—by two points over dad Lawrence Line—after the season’s first four hooks, which included a win in Anoka’s Session One. A third straight third place in Worthington extended the lead to three, and a fourth in Sandwich clinched “Totally Geared”’s second title in three years and Carol’s first since 2012. David O’Connor’s “Nasty Habit” (-3) won twice on the year and finished third in DeKalb County to overtake Line for second place.
2016 Region III Super Farm Champion: Trevan Rohde, Rice Lake, WI, “Somethin’ Fierce”
After a win in Menomonie, Rohde held a five-point advantage over challengers Jeff Larson and Dan Schulte. But two weeks later came a disastrous 11th place in Worthington that mired “Somethin’ Fierce” in a three-way tie for third behind Larson and Kevin Lindstrom’s “Hyper Harvester” (-1). Rohde recovered with a Labor Day weekend victory in Ridgeland to make up all the points he lost and one more than he needed to clinch his first championship.
2016 Region III Limited Pro Stock Champion: Craig Braun, Hampton, MN, “Hampton Hooker”
In his first year of NTPA competition, Braun conquered the division like an experienced veteran. Though winless on the season, “Hampton Hooker” started with a second in its first hook in Ellsworth, had an average finish of 3.6, and never scored fewer than 26 points. Braun assumed the lead after Worthington and kept it even as 2015 champ Bill Figanbaum’s “Instigator” (-1) and Jarod Ploetz won down the stretch. Fellow division rookie Roger Scalzo also posted a victory.
2016 Region III Heavy Super Stock Champion: Esdon Lehn, Dayton, MN, “Red Line Fever”
Anoka became the starting and ending point for this championship chase once the rain settled in over Owatonna. And in those two hooks, Lehn lived up to his status as hometown favorite by dominating the Miller Genuine Draft Showdown with 20- and 15-foot victories over Ken Witt’s “Mr. Yuk” (-3) and David Henderson, respectively. It is the first of two regional titles captured by the 12-time Grand National champion this season; he also won two regional SS titles in each of 1985 and 1987.
2016 Region III Heavy Super Stock Diesel Champion: David Henderson, Spring Valley, MN, “Stray Horse Gone Wild”
In the middle of the season’s backstretch after picking up a third in Ellsworth and a second in Norwalk’s Session One, Henderson was tied with the Degenhardts at the top of the standings. But the “Horse” found its stride in Session Two, outdistancing the 2013 champ “Diggin’ Hard,” and closed fast at the tape by winning in Marshfield over Curdtown winner Esdon Lehn’s “Red Line Fever” (-4) by a sled length. Roger Peterson had the circuit’s other victory.
2016 Region II Modified Champion: Ryan Writsel, Orient, OH, “Lucky Stryke”
Writsel won in his first season in Modified competition; it’s his first NTPA title since 2003 (Super Modified Four Wheel Drive). Every finish for the twin-engine machine was top-three, while his nine wins included two three-hook winning streaks, one of which ended the season. “Lucky Stryke” proved to be versatile, too; in its three-engine configuration, it qualified for the Super Sunday ring round in Bowling Green. Reigning champ Don Deane and his “Plumbers Nitemare” (-31) finished second.
2016 Region III Light Super Stock Champion: Marty Nelson, Almena, WI, “Just-a-Case”
Nelson based his case for a title on four wins in five hooks including the season’s opener and closer in Ellsworth and Ridgeland. But the “Red Thunder” Team (-3) kept the race close with a win of their own in Menomonie, and as of the Lions Club’s Saturday afternoon luncheon, the two were tied. But that evening, Nelson “Just-a”-fied his championship by completing a Norwalk sweep. “Red Thunder” earned the combined Region III/V Enderle berth by doubling in New Hampton.
2016 Region II Super Stock Diesel 4x4 Champion: Van Haisley, Fairmount, IN, “Rock Hard Ram”
Eight top fives and a win in Springfield earned Haisley his second title (2011). Brion Withrow’s “Nut Job” (-11) led for the first half of the season after scoring wins in Greentown and Charlotte among the first three hooks. But Withrow, who won once more late in the year in Findlay, couldn’t match the “Rock”-solid consistency of Haisley, who pulled into a tie with his midseason victory and averaged 27.6 points per hook. Don Bowling and Curt Haisley had two wins apiece.
2016 Region II Modified Mini Champion: Todd Bultman, Zeeland, MI, “Stress Relief”
Opening the season with six consecutive victories and finishing with nine wins in 13 hooks will tend to alleviate one’s anxiety, but Bultman had an objective besides the region title: Overcoming the missed 2015 Allegan wraparound to qualify for the 2016 Enderle. He made up that ground by finishing out of the top three only once, and he made the most of his trip to Urbana with a win at the 30th. Tim Rea’s “Wicked Sensation” (-30) had a string of five top threes to land in second.
2016 Region II Two Wheel Drive Champion: Randy Petro, Camden, Ohio, “Kathy’s Komplaint”
With help from friends Chad Mayhill, Marvin Epperson, and Jeff Shafer, Petro’s classic ride captured its first title since 2011 and first regional crown since 2007. “Vintage KK” scored top-two finishes (four wins, seven seconds) in almost half of its 23 appearances, then advanced to—and won—the Enderle from the region’s Western berth. Bill Widenmeyer’s “Twin T” (-100) won once in 26 showings; Jeff Writsel’s “At It Again” matched Petro’s win total toward capturing the Eastern berth.
2016 Region II Four Wheel Drive Champions: Chris & Christopher Taylor, Eaton, IN, “Grain Hollers Mafia”
It all came down to the final hook on Labor Day in Findlay, where Chris and Christopher Taylor clinched their second championship in three years. Qualifying for the four-hook pull-off was enough to edge out “The Detonator” (-1), which was piloted by Pat Pixley on behalf of the late Dave Weiss. The two trucks were never separated by more than seven points and were tied as late as midseason after Springfield. Ron Newell had the most wins on the 13-hook schedule with four.
2016 Region II Light Pro Stock Champion: Kendall Houk, Lynchburg, OH, “Nothing Special”
Mike Palmer’s reconstructed “Red Avenger” (-167.5) won twice and had eight top-five finishes, and Travis Tilton and Gary Holman each scored three wins. But the long Light Pro campaign rewarded the steady, consistent performance of the first-time champion Houk, whose 28 appearances resulted in 11 top fives and a 7.3 average finish position. “Nothing Special” made it to all but three events on the grueling schedule and won early in Boswell to assume a lead he would not surrender.
2016 Region II Limited Pro Stock Champion: Doug McKinley, Winamac, IN, “Knight Train”
Pulling out of the station, the “Train” was on track for a division title, earning victories in South Bend and Logansport to open the season and a 30-point second place in Preble. With an average finish of 3.2 across five competitive hooks, 2015’s third-place tractor stayed ahead of Jerry Wisel’s “Constant Conflict” (-6.5). McKinley’s Case was only the second eagle-branded machine and the first since 2007 to qualify for the Enderle Pull-Off.
2016 Region II Super Farm Champion: Stan Warda, Berrien Springs, MI, “Hammerin’ Hank”
After finishing third in the region in 2015, “Hank” touched all the bases at the June pull in Napoleon for the first of five season wins (South Bend, Logansport, Springfield, and Brandenburg). No other regional competitor won more than twice. Most closely pursued by the Capozzos’ “Cruel Intentions” (-55), Warda made it to every event after the Fremont rainout. An eighth place in a class of 44 on Sunday at the Budweiser Dairyland Super Nationals in Tomah was a season highlight.
2016 Region II Pro Stock Champion: Ryan Walters, Wharton, OH, “Chasin’ Tail”
Walters’ Massey won the first regional Pro Stock title since 2011 as the only competitor to attend all five of the division’s appearances. Rainouts in Alliance and Rushville shortened the season to three competitive hooks and the race to the Enderle, won by Cory Hoffman’s “King of Deeres” (-28), to only two; both were invited. But Walters scored a fourth in Allegan in the region’s final contest to secure his third championship (2010, 2008).
2016 Region II Light Super Stock Champion: Rex Kuhn, Morristown, IN, “Git-R-Done”
Competing on the regional level after a decade on the Grand National stage, Kuhn went undefeated in point competition in his home state. Wins in the season’s first three contests in Boswell, South Bend, and Logansport built a nine-point lead over fellow Hoosier and 2015 champ Anthony Hart and “Hart’s Desire” (-5). Kuhn clinched the title in Urbana, then completed the season with wins at the 50th National Tractor Pulling Championships and 30th Enderle Pull-Off.
2016 Region II Heavy Super Stock Champion: John Pfeiffer, Connersville, IN, “Pfeiffermax”
It was a season-long battle for supremacy between Pfeiffer and defending champion Kent Payne and his “Super Rooster” (-4.5). “Pfeiffermax” posted wins in Charlotte and Zanesville; Payne was second both times. “Rooster” posted 10 wins including five straight at midseason; Pfeiffer was a point back on all five occasions. The difference was endurance: Pfeiffer made it to all 14 class appearances with a 3.0 average finish, while breakage sidelined Payne for one hook in July.