Jeff Hothem- Driver
In the Off Season of Tractor Pulling, almost any day of the week, you can find the driver, Jeff Hothem, in the shop on the family Farm, in Dellroy, Ohio, planning , fabricating, and/or working on the “Fully Loaded” Unlimited Alcohol Super Stock tractor. If that isn’t happening, Jeff is establishing or updating Social Media to keep fans involved in the Motorsport which he has had a passion for since he was a young child, and has had the awesome opportunity to do for the past 18 years.
Jeff began driving and competing in tractor pulling in the late summer of 2001 with his first John Deere tractor, a 4440 Super Stock Diesel named “Loaded Gun”. He and his parents, John and Barbara Hothem, campaigned the “Loaded Gun” primarily on the OSTPA circuit, with a few Regional and National NTPA Events for 7 years and an occasional Lucas Oil PPL event the last few years. Past achievements with the “Loaded Gun” JD 4440 Super Stock diesel tractor included:
- 2003 OSTPA Puller of the Year
- 2004 OSTPA Family of the Year
- 2005 OSTPA Points Champion
- 2005 OSTPA Super Stock Puller of the Year
During the winter of 2009, Jeff spent many hours helping to create the new component chassis for the Unlimited Alcohol Super Stock tractor, “Fully Loaded” which he campaigns currently on the Lucas Oil PPL Champions Tour.
Jeff and Team “Fully Loaded” made its debut on the OSTPA Circuit at the Madison County Fair, London, Ohio, in 2010 taking Second Place and finished the season winning Reserve Champion in the Super Stock Class. In 2011 “Fully Loaded” won its first National Pull in Saluda, South Carolina as a member of the Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League Champions Tour where he continues to pull to the present date. The team has progressed very nicely on the Lucas Oil Champions Tour. In 2015 Jeff was bestowed the honor of being named the Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League Puller of the year. In 2016 and 2017, the team was very successful and was crowned the National Champions on the Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League Unlimited Super Stock Class.
For the past five consecutive years, starting in 2014, Jeff and the “Fully Loaded” tractor and team were invited to the participate in the invitational National Farm Machinery Show Tractor Pull placing in the top six in 2014 during the first session to return as a finalist to take fifth place in the Alcohol Super Stock 8000lb class its first time out to the NFMS. The team was also successful in obtaining a spot in the Saturday Night “Finals” in 2015 and 2017. Jeff will return with his crew and “Fully Loaded” to compete in the 2019 NFMS Champion Tractor Pull for his 5th season participating once again in the prestigious National Farm Machinery Show Championship Invitational Pull.
John Hothem – Crew Chief *in memoriam
Always having supported his son, Jeff, and his interests, it is no surprise to find John Hothem in the shop on the family owned grain farm in Dellroy, Ohio, assisting with work on the pulling tractor, on the track before events and/or evaluating tractor weight and placement before each pulling event.
John was raised on a dairy farm in neighboring Tuscarawas County, but as the saying goes, “you can take the boy out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the boy.” After graduating from OSU in the school of Engineering in 1965, John became a Ceramic Engineer by trade and a farmer by nights and weekends. He and his wife, Barbara, who have now been married for 45 years, moved to the country shortly after saying their “I-do’s” to enjoy country living and to instill the work ethics of farming in the family they would have.
Along the way John taught his only child, Jeff, an appreciation for a job well done, the respect for a day’s hard labor and to never say “never”. Farming as a family had become a way of life, they chose to spend their “leisure” time together farming, which became less and less leisurely as the farming evolved over the years.
John always had an interest in the mechanics of things including farm equipment but had little free time to spend repairing the tractors on the farm but both he and Jeff enjoyed the power they could feel in the tractors as they did their job. The family attended the county fair tractor pulls regularly to witness that power of tractors being applied to the track while pulling dead weight sleds. The smell of the smoke, the sounds of the engines roaring away and watching the competition made for a good day.
So it was no surprise when Jeff called home one day as he was returning to Cincinnati, OH for work and after being home for the county pulls, that he expressed an interest in obtaining a pulling tractor. John soon found that the family was not just watching the pulls, but becoming pullers themselves. Work, farming and pulling became their new way of life.
In 2003 John retired from his Vice President of Manufacturing position at Summitville Tiles only to find himself fully submersed into creating a customized 53’ drop deck semi trailer into living quarters, a fully equipped shop for the pulling tractor and a hauler for the tractor and a support vehicle to use touring Ohio tractor pulling after the spring crops had been planted for the next 13 yrs.
John found that his skills and abilities gave him great pleasure in tweaking the engine and making the pulling tractor even more competitive while spending his “leisure” time with the family now again even less leisurely by farming, working on the tractor, pulling, working on the tractor, pulling and working on the tractor some more.
In 2009 when the alcohol tractor was being constructed, John’s engineering abilities came into play again while “Fully Loaded” was being built to compete at a new level. No smoke but certainly power! John continues to assist Jeff with the tractor as Crew Chief and enjoys the challenges of tractor pulling.
In 2016, the Team lost a very vital member. John passed away in March 2016. He is missed on a daily basis and the knowledge he passed on and shared will always be remembered.
Barbara Hothem- Stats, Logistics, Video
Being born and raised in the city, Barbara (Miller) Hothem was a city girl who became an urban teacher, a wife, a farmer, a mother, a sailor, then went on to learning about being a diesel mechanic, and is now learning about tractors that run on alcohol. All of this later part came about due to Barbara’s love for her family; husband, John and their son, Jeff.
A move to the rural country side of Carroll County was a big step for that once city girl. With the belief in the benefits of hard work and the philosophy of “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”, Barbara soon learned what it meant to be a farmer and a farmer’s wife. This was going to be the environment chosen to raise a family. With the birth of their son in 1977, Barbara retired from public education and became a full time mother and farmer. It was left to her to mange things during the weekdays on the farm which had expanded from a grain farm to include a cow-calf herd and later a feed lot which finished approximately a 150 head of beef each year. While John’s work at Summitville Tiles was keeping him even busier off the farm, Jeff and Barbara became quite ad debt to dealing with the ever changing demands of farming. Farming had evolved into a full time job for the “city girl turned country”.
In 2001 the summer activities shifted from learning the techniques of how to use water and wind to make a sailboat go faster, to understanding how to compete on a clay dirt track by learning tweaking techniques to make a tractor pull further! By 2003 this was all starting to come together for the family and Jeff was named OSTPA Puller of the Year. Due to Barbara’s inquisitiveness and confidence inspired by both her father, Robert E Miller, and husband’s willingness to show and explain how things worked, Barbara had become an asset to assembling and reassembling their JD440 Super Stock diesel tractor, ”Loaded Gun”. In 2004, the Ohio State Tractor Pulling Association honored the team with the “Family of the Year” award. The spring of 2005 they had won their first OSTPA Points Championship and 2006 Barbara was named “Miss OSTPA”. Barbara and her family had become immersed into the world of Truck and Tractor Pulling. An environmental change was created again!
During the winter of 2009, Barbara and team participated with Karlen Motorsports in the creation of the John Deere 8345R alcohol Super Stock tractor to be called, “Fully Loaded”. In the first season out the team had taken the 2010 OSTPA Reserve Points Championship. Barbara was extremely excited in 2011, while competing in the Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League Champions Tour in the Saluda, South Carolina, when Fully Loaded drew third hook and pulled a distance no one else could match. They had won their very first National Pull with “Fully Loaded”! She no longer regretted giving up the black smoke for alcohol fumes. Each hook Barbara captures video that along with the computer data from the tractor is used to evaluate the runs which have become handy tools for the Team.
Barbara and the Pulling Team continue to campaign “Fully Loaded” on the Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League Champions Tour. OSTPA and NTPA events are attended when scheduling permits, as well as attending shows and promotional events throughout the year to promote their sponsors and the sport of Truck and Tractor pulling. The team has been invited to the NFMS Championship Tractor Pull in February again this year and hopes to make the Finals, just as they have 3 out of the last 5 years.
Getting the Team ready for travel, whether it is running for tractor parts, gathering and stocking supplies, planning meals for a grocery run, or making sure everything is clean, tidy and ready to be loaded, is often done in a brief turn around period. Learning to accommodate that fast, hectic paced competition schedule, is a task that keeps Barbara’s off days full and a smile in her heart.
Austin Baker – Crew Chief
In 2012, Austin Baker joined the Team after helping with the spring planting on the team’s farm in Dellroy, Ohio. Although, a life-long resident of the rural Carroll county, Austin had never been involved in grain farming but definitely brought with him the farmer’s work ethic of “working sunup till sundown” to get the jobs done! He quickly acquired skills necessary to get spring planting successfully accomplished and helping with mechanical repairs and maintenance. As his junior year of high school ended, Austin, continued to help with the farm, working late spring and early summer, when energies turned to getting Fully Loaded ready for the seasons pulling circuit.
Austin expressed an interest in the work being done on the tractor and offered to stay over and help…he attended the first pull and was hooked…he was excited and eager to see the videos and computer data to evaluate the tractor’s performance. With his developing motor mechanical skills, computer and social media knowledge, Austin became a very welcomed valuable component and good friend. Trained as a certified welder, Austin mig and tig welds various metals and materials for his occupation during the week and joins the team in the “agony and ecstasy” of tractor pulling fall, winter, spring, and summer working “sunup till sundown” helping to keeping Fully Loaded competitive on the PPL Champions Tour and up to date on social media.
During pulling season you can find Austin on the track setting the sled for the Fully Loaded tractor placement and making certain all last minute things are taken care of like turning on the on board cameras. Prior to that, in the pits, Austin is busily involved in tractor prep or tear down after the pull, or answering questions from spectators and fans while passing out Hero Cards or selling Team T-Shirts. Austin’s brother, Cody, and his parents, Phil and Tonia often can also be found in the pits supporting and enjoying the Team camaraderie. The Team feels very fortunate that Austin got “hooked” on Tractor Pulling!
Oliver James – Crew and Official Greeter
Everyone, meet Oliver! Oliver is the team K9, who is certain to greet everyone with a few licks and nuzzles as he tells you all about the trip and what he has planned for the day through his very happy and vocal “rooing”, only to turn around and lay by your feet quietly to observe everything else going on.
Oliver is a handsome mixed breed chocolate something! He joined the team in 2012, after being entrusted to us by the Lee Family who also are tractor pullers and farm in the Magnolia, Ohio area. The Lee’s rescued this small brown haired puppy with golden eyes and floppy satin ears wandering the roadway at one of their desolate rental properties, and decided he definitely was in need of a safe caring home and brought him with them to their farm.
Jeff was at the Lee Farms’ shop one afternoon and he noticed the calm gentle pup that was happily waging his tail at everyone and then suddenly found asleep on the floor in Katie’s lap. After learning how the pup had been acquired by the Lee’s, and how they had felt the need to protect the pup until the owners or a home could be found for him, is when the story of our “Oliver James” began; the pup had captured Jeff’s heart and he was brought home that night!
That next day, Oliver got to experience his very first tractor pull event and a long ride to the Brown County Fair (Georgetown, Ohio) pull that the team had made plans to attend. Oliver, even though he was not so sure at first of all the new changes being made, quickly adjusted and became accustomed to the pulling life. Oliver loves to go for “rides” especially in the coach. It is tough to keep Oliver from going to the coach when we are outside around the shop because he enjoys loading up and arriving at the pulls so much! In fact, on the road trips, he can often be seen riding “shot gun” with the front seat passenger!
Oliver James has become such a joy in our daily lives and has lightened all of our hearts, actually we are not sure “who really rescued who” but we sure are happy we found one another! Who would think a 72 pound dog would be so happy being a lap dog, but in Jeff’s lap he can be found most nights!
So if you haven’t gotten a chance to meet Oliver, Oliver James that is, stop by the pits and say hello to him! Listen for his stories, then give him a pat on the head and shake “paws” with him! He is a great stress reliever for our team and brings a definite true meaning to the phrase “A Man’s Best Friend”!