The bull rides again

Published 9:46 am Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Zuni’s Thurman Munford Jr. starts his run atop his International tractor dubbed “The Mechanical Bull.” Munson Jr., a third-generation tractor puller, took third place in his class during the Interstate Truck and Tractor Pullers Association event held in Isle of Wight County. -- Dale Liesch | Tidewater News

ISLE OF WIGHT—The Munford family had a lot to celebrate this weekend.

Third-generation tractor puller Thurman Munford Jr. from Zuni took third place in the 8,500 mod-turbo class at the Interstate Truck and Tractor Pullers Association event Saturday, and his grandfather, John Munford, celebrated his 90th birthday Sunday.

The younger Munford pulled the load for more than 300 feet at the Isle of Wight County fairgrounds with an International tractor dubbed The Mechanical Bull, which was originally built by his father, Thurman Munford Sr. in 1981.

Thurman Munford Jr. was pleased with the results of the tractor’s first run since he rebuilt it to compete in the heavier class.

“I’m really tickled with it,” he said. “To be our first time out and to finish that way, I’m really pleased with it.”

Thurman Jr., who turns 36 in May, said his father pulled The Mechanical Bull from 1981 to 1999 and his grandfather pulled farm tractors as well.

Thurman Munford Sr. said he felt good watching The Mechanical Bull pull again.

“It means a lot. It shows we work hard,” he said. “It’s something the whole family has been doing.”

Munford Sr. only pulls once in a while and calls himself the “crew chief,” while his son is a full-time puller on tour and his father, John Munford, was scheduled to pull Saturday until rain called the event.

Munford Sr. said his father, who bought his first tractor in 1937, was scheduled to compete in the farm stock class Saturday night with an International tractor.

“He still enjoys it,” he said. “It’s just like going to the field for him.”

John Munford placed second in his class last year when the same truck and tractor pull event was held on his 89th birthday.

“People enjoyed it so much last year we felt like we should bring him back,” Munford Sr. said.

The eldest Munford was scheduled to compete for the last time, but since the event was called early due to rain, Munford Jr. said his grandfather would compete the next time an event was held locally.

Munford Jr. said John Munford enjoyed his 90th birthday Sunday.

“We went to my sister’s house and put some steaks on the grill,” Munford Jr. said. “We had a good time.”