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Gene Dunn named OSTPA puller of year, sweeps semi class awards
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By Carol McIntire
Gene Dunn has come long way since his first trip down the pulling track in a semi.
The Carrollton man began his career at the Cadiz Fair in 1996 in a semi he used for his business at that time, Perrysville Iron and Metal. It was a street-legal stock semi he gave a new coat of paint to after watching a semi-truck pulling class at the Carroll County Fair in 1992.
Unfortunately for the hyped-up Dunn, the class wasn’t offered the following year at Carrollton and he had to wait until 1996 at Cadiz to show off his prized vehicle.
“…I took my truck and, of course, tried to tear it up,” Dunn told The Messenger for a story that appeared in the newspaper in 2020, just a few months after he was named the 2019 Ohio State Tractor Pullers Association (OSTPA) Semi Truck Puller of the Year.
Today, Dunn has become a full-blown semi puller who spends a big portion of the summer months traveling across Ohio to compete in sanctioned pulls.
During the 2022 campaign, he competed in every OSTPA sanctioned event – all 24 of them- and swept the top four awards in the Carroll’s Truck Parts Pro Stock Semi Points and was named the OSTPA Puller of the Year.
Dunn began pulling the OSTPA circuit in 2007 and quickly learned it was cheaper to buy a pulling truck than to build one, so he set out in search of a truck.
His first acquisition was a 1987 copper colored Peterbilt he named Arm Bender’s Nightmare in recognition of Dunn’s hobby of arm wrestling. The truck came without a transmission, but Dunn was determined to have it ready to debut at the 2008 Carroll County Fair OSTPA-sanctioned pull.
Dunn said he was competitive that season, but “couldn’t compete with the top dogs.”
Once again, the search was on for a truck – this time it would be one that was ready to hit the circuit.
A 1974 yellow Kenworth with a Detroit diesel engine named “Lady Bug” joined the Dunn pulling fleet in 2015.
Next came a 1995 Peterbilt with a C-15 Caterpillar engine known as “Senseless.” Dunn changed the name to Arm Bender II and hit the circuit with Lady Butterfly and Arm Bender II.
In the fall of 2021, his semi fleet increased again. This time with the purchase of a 1984 Kenworth he named Twisted Kitty.
“The Twisted comes from the way the truck twists as it goes down the track,” Dunn explained. “And the Kitty comes from the Cat (Caterpillar) engine under the hood, so you have Twisted Kitty.”
Dunn related the purchase of the truck and his connection to it.
“I bought it from a guy in Vermont and had him drop it off at the Ashland County Fair pull in September 2021,” he related. “He brought the truck the day of the tractor and truck pull and gave me a couple pointers on how to drive it. I pulled it in the class and won first place.”
For Dunn that was the beginning of a season of wins in 2022.
He and Twisted Kitty claimed the championship title with 784 points in a field of 15 trucks.
Lady Butterfly placed second with 732 points and Arm Bender II placed third with 636 points followed by Arm Bender I in fourth with 586.
Dunn attended the Jan. 21 OSTPA banquet in Columbus, knowing he was to receive awards for the top four semis in the class. What he didn’t know was that he was going to be named Puller of the Year for the entire OSTPA organization, not just the pro stock semi class.
“It was definitely a surprise,” Dunn said, adding, “It means so much to me.” Back when I won the award before, there was a puller of the year for each class. Now there is one for the entire organization.”
OSTPA is a pretty tight-knit group,” he continued. “They help each other out and always there for each other.”
His awards included jackets, plaques and cash along with a large portrait of Twisted Kitty making its way down the track.
Although the season is sometimes tough to navigate with pulls bunched into a few summer months, the veteran is ready to head out again.
“We are gone pretty much every weekend from May through September,” he explained. “At one point, we had five pulls in seven days. A lot of times it’s easier just to stay out on the road and just drive from one pull to another instead of driving home and leaving from there for the next pull.”
When asked how he plans to top his 2022 performance, Dunn laughed, smiled and replied, “I don’t know but we’re going try.”
He plans to hit the road when the pulling season begins this year with all four trucks in tow.
“You can never have too many trucks. And if you have them, you might as well pull them!”
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