Millers Tavern, Virginia, home to dozens of some of the most recognizable pulling vehicles regionally and nationally. It boasts more pullers than any other geographic region around. As far as trucks, it is home to many! So needless to say a truck owner would create a venue worth or bringing in the big names of pulling. Temple Brizendine has made a nice time for many locals to be had on Saturday nights throughout the summer. It only adds to the mystique that is "Rivah" living!
One such sponsor these many years for Temple has been James River Equipment of Tappahanock. And out of that shop comes a nice green John Deere 4020 called the Gambler. Kevin and dad Grayson English have been in pulling for a good long time. Grayson has been on the track going back to the 70's and son Kevin has been there just about every step of the way, watching, learning, and waiting. Now, Kevin has built a sweet lookin' John Deere 4020 that garners many looks and more double looks. Someone asked me once, "C'mon don't you want to build a tractor compete with that thing?" "The Gambler?", I said, "No way, I need the budget, the pulling experience, every excuse I could think of."
But Kevin does not stand alone in his class the V8 Economy Modified tractors. There are pullers of many years strapping in to go toe to toe with Kevin and his dad. With names like Little Henry, Buck Eater, Full Throttle, and Deere Hunter there is plenty of competition and don't think for a second Kevin doesn't realize this. We caught up with him earlier this week.@WWP: Winning at hometown feels pretty good doesn't it?
Kevin: There's nothing like having friends and family congratulate you and jumping up and down celebrating with you.
@WWP: You said family, talk about the pullers in your class. Your tractor has on it, "When the hook drops, the BS stops!"
Kevin: That's just it. We are a family and we have al been pulling together for a long time. And we go right back to carrying on after we pull. But, I don't like to beat anyone except on the track. There have been times, where I will pull a part off my tractor to put on someone else's
@WWP: You're going pretty good right now, 6 hooks, 6 wins?
Kevin: Yeah, me and dad were sitting in the shop tonight and talking, like we do most nights for a little bit and I have changed my driving style to accomodate the tractor. We've figured out the weight on the front end a little bit better. But like Temple and Footloose in the past, or Brian Korth and Considered Armed and Dangerous, we know that you can't stay on top forever so we are going to ride this wave for as long as we can.
@WWP: Kevin, you have got this Economy Modified figured out right now, ever think of going back to the Multi-Engine Modifieds?
Kevin: Well, yeah that is the natural progression for this class, but like I said I have my Dad with me and he likes strapping into to this thing whereas he wouldn't strap into a Modified. I would love to run with Randy Davis and his Running Bear, but we are good in this class right now.
@WWP: You mentioned Randy Davis and it was good to see Tallie Davis walking around the past Saturday night. The Summer Nationals didn't seem the same without that class, did it?
Kevin: No, it didn't, but I love picking Randy's brain about this or that and it didn't seem the same. But we know they will be back at it soon enough.
@WWP: Temple Brizendine, Randy Davis, and you all, what is it with Tappahanock that it has so many pullers in so many classes than anywhere else?
Kevin: Well there was a time when you could pick and choose where to pull. You would have 2 to 3 pulls going on during any given weekend and for a good amount of purse. But it seemed like as the events got bigger, the pulling vehicles got bigger, the haulers got bigger, and the parking got more crowded. So Lucas Oil came along and everything kinda changed.
@WWP: What is it now that makes you think we are doing it the right way?
Kevin: Well unlike most other sports, we have open pits, so fans can come and look at a vehicle that they used to own or and a grand parent farmed with. I have people come by all the time and tell me that so and so used to have a John Deere, but it didn't look anything like this. A fan came by this week and I told him to put his kid in the seat. You could see on his face, that made his year.
@WWP: That's right Kevin, I saw you tell the man that. So what is stock and what is not?
Kevin: Well per the rules, we have a tractor rear end and sheet metal. I do have the luxury of looking at the way the new production John Deere's do this or do that and incorporate some of that technology when I can. So it helps to be around a good amount of John Deere's and parts.
@WWP: Kevin, what is you favorite non-Economy Modified class to watch?
Kevin: All of 'em. When you grow up in the sport you get used to watching em and you know someone in just about every class, so I will watch a good amount of pulls. And being at some many pulls, you really get to know the pullers and have at least one puller in each class that you root for. And you know Temple has done a good job of bringing pulls back to places that hadn't had any for a long time. So that is good to see.
@WWP: Thanks for taking the time to talk to me tonight. Any last words?
Kevin: Yeah, you know John [Nicol] does a good job of talking to pullers and when I have talk to him over the Public Address system, I always like to thank our fans, because if it weren't for them, we wouldn't be doing this. so when they buy that ticket and that cheeseburger, I tell em thanks!
@WWP: Kevin, good luck on the rest of your season and congrats on your hometown win.
We head to Orange, Virginia home to E L Harlow and the Harlow Harvester. Thunder in Orange is back tonight at 7PM (June 17) and tomorrow at 6PM (June 18). Orange County Fairgrounds is located at 14501 Old Gordonsville Rd, Orange, VA 22960.
Pictures from the event.