How Tractor Pull NZ crossed the finish line with the help of Company-X.

Tractor pulling may be the world’s oldest motorsport, but spectators at racing events have Company-X to thank for the newest technology.

Tractor Pull New Zealand, which runs tractor racing events all over the country, turned to the Wintec House based Hamilton software specialist when it needed an event management system and control software for the electronic hardware in its sled.

“Our first job was to learn how a competition day was run from start to finish, noting all of the key events, important outcomes and potential efficiencies,” said Company-X director Jeremy Hughes.

“We developed a software application that not only controlled the tractor sled hardware to detect and provide simple, instant adjustments to a tractor pull but also managed all of the data and reporting on competition day, including competitors, classes, heats and final results.”

The custom-written software transmits data over a connection to interface with the electronics controller. Together they create a level playing field enabling tractors to compete with each other regardless of their weights.

This is because the heavier the tractor, the more traction that it has with the ground, hence the need for a handicap. As an example, if an event track is 100 meters long, and they want the tractors to be stopped (that is, run out of traction or horsepower) by 80 meters then a five-ton tractor requires about 45 per cent of the maximum sled load, whereas 10 ton tractor requires about 80 per cent of the maximum sled load.

“The software greatly increases the efficiency and flexibility of events, as organizers to longer need to race all tractors of the same weight resistance together in one class – they can run mixed heats and re-runs as competitors are available, and leave race results and weight adjustments to their software,” Hughes said.

Tractor Pull NZ chairman Vaughan Coy said he found it really interesting “laying the Company-X technology over the grease and grind” because it meant the event has become mostly about the drivers’ ability.

“Drivers need to select a good part of the track, and they need to avoid dirty great holes which contain loose soil meaning they lose traction.”

Coy said the finished result was an eye-opener with some features even we had forgotten we had asked for.

“We came away feeling more confident in our brand-new software than we did when using our old software that had been in use for over two years! We have an application that is robust and feature-rich yet retains the critical ease of use,” Coy said.

“The support and backup has extended well beyond our expectations with a willingness to see the application working as intended, not just as delivered.

“Tractor Pull New Zealand Inc has no hesitation in recommending Company-X director Jeremy Hughes and his team when you need someone who can listen, produce and deliver a piece of mission-critical software to a standard you can rely on.”

The owner of a large South Island contractor company who pays for his staff to attend and compete in the tractor pull events said that he recoups every cent he spends on his team being at an event.

“Drivers learn new tractor handling techniques, which equate to costs savings in both fuel and time efficiencies. Because my guys compete here, they learn how to get the best out of their tractors.”

So what’s the secret winning formula? “There is no secret, but they usually run out of traction, not horsepower, so good driver skill goes a long way.”