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Stone inducted into Pulling Hall of Fame

WORTHINGTON, Ohio — Middlebury businessman Gardner Stone was inducted into the National Tractor Pullers Association’s Pulling Hall of Fame last month as part of the institution’s 31st Hall induction class. Stone was welcomed into the Hall on Dec. 6 at the 44th Annual NTPA Awards Banquet hosted by the Columbus Marriott Northwest in Dublin, Ohio.
Stone was inducted along with close friend and fellow NTPA competitor David P. Schreier.
Stone competed for all or parts of 25 seasons in the Modified Mini, Modified and Unlimited divisions of tractor pulling. In this motorsport, vehicles of various configurations vie to pull a metal sled the greatest distance along a straight, dirt track as the sled’s resistance increases. The former drag racer entered state-level pulling competition in 1978 with a 500-horsepower automotive engine mounted to an eight-foot chassis and promptly won in his first two “hooks.” But Stone was best known for his innovative use of aircraft engines in vehicles weighing between 5,000 and 12,000 pounds.
MIDDLEBURY’S GARDNER STONE drives his modified tractor — the four-engine “General Stage IV” — powered by four helicopter engines in a pulling competition.
Beginning in 1979 and continuing for the next decade, Stone powered his modifieds with 12-cylinder Allison engines from World War II-era fighter airplanes. Advancing from single-Allison (“The Brigadier”) through twin-engine (“Loud, Tough, and Lethal”) to a three-Allison (“The General”) modifieds, Stone competed against vehicles sporting factory-produced automotive racing engines, exemplifying Stone’s quest to win in his own distinct way. Experiences in Europe and a conversation with land speed legend Art Arfons (2001 Pulling Hall of Fame inductee) led Stone to switch to the T-55 General Electric/Lycoming helicopter turbine in the four-engine “General Stage IV,” which debuted in 1988. It was with this tractor that Stone would find his greatest success, winning titles in two Grand National modified classes in 1990.  In 1999, 2003 and 2004, the “General Stage IV” earned Grand National championships in the Unlimited division. Additionally, Stone was an early investor in World Pulling International Inc., the NTPA’s managing company, and served as WPI’s vice president for a three-year term.
Stone is the 61st individual inducted into the Pulling Hall of Fame, whose honorees’ plaques are displayed at the NTPA’s offices in Worthington, Ohio. Established in 1980, the Pulling Hall of Fame was created to recognize those that have had a significant impact on the sport of truck and tractor pulling. This year’s Hall of Fame awards were sponsored by Firestone Tires of Akron, Ohio, and American Awards of Grove City, Ohio. Stone was presented with his award by NTPA President Keith Theobald and Firestone representative Jim Sube.
For more information about the NTPA, visit www.ntpapull.com, www.facebook.com/ntpapulling or www.twitter.com/ntpapull, or call the NTPA office at (614) 436-1761.

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