A onetime trucker and farmer, Larry Koester (left) lost both his legs at the knee in a freak farm tractor accident in 1986. Yet far from crippling his life, that accident opened a new chapter for Koester — that of a champion driver in the National Tractor Pull Association (NTPA).
What started as a hobby to help him recover from his injuries turned into a full-fledged career in 1998 when he obtained his first full-time racing sponsorship. Since then, he's been the NTPA champion in the mini-modified racing tractor division. Racing behind the wheel of a machine dubbed “Footloose,” he won his division in 2001, 2006 and 2008, and placed second in 2007.
And driving these racing tractors is no mean feat. Their supercharged methanol-fueled engines crank out 2,700 hp. — turning the rear wheels at 160 mph. All that power enables these tractors to try and pull 16,000-lb. sleds as far and as fast as they can to grab a win.
“I really am proof that the Lord do giveth, even when he taketh away,” Larry told Fleet Owner.
Todd Roccapriore of Hebron, CT, captured “Best in Show” honors and a $10,000 grand prize with his “Widow Maker” custom-built 2004 Peterbilt 379 at the 28th Shell Rotella SuperRigs show-truck competition held recently at the Lee Hi Travel Plaza in Lexington, VA. His top showing also scored him automatic placement in the 2011 Shell Rotella SuperRigs calendar.
Roccapriore's “Widow Maker” also won the Best Interior, Best Theme, Best Chrome, Best Lights and Best Engine categories. Roccapriore and his wife Beth designed and fabricated the dark lime-green and black rig, which boasts a modified trailer as well as handmade seats and 64 speakers.
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