Tatum Goes "Full Throttle"
Article taken from the 2004 Championship Tractor Pull Souvenir Program
In 1993 the Championship Tractor Pull (CTP) inducted
a Finals competition into its already highly competitive format. Over the past 11
years, hundreds of the top drivers in the United States have competed for the title
of Finals Grand Champion, but only 55 have made it into the CTP Hall of Fame. Out
of these 55 top drivers, only one holds a title that no other Finals winner will
ever have the chance to hold. On February 16, 2003, 22-year-old Lisa Tatum made
CTP history when she finished the Finals competition with a distance of 234.70,
becoming the first female ever to earn the Grand Champion title.
"Winning was a great feeling. It was unbelievable," described Tatum.
While Tatum loves the thrill of being the first
female to win in the finals competition, she also revels in knowing she laid the
groundwork for broadening respect, as
well as competition, for female drivers everywhere. Tatum says
she hopes her success will give other women the motivation and the drive, as well as the confidence, to know they can do
more than just compete - they can win.
While Tatum's first love is pulling, and she does
enjoy a good motorcycle ride with the guys on her Kawasaki Ninja, she is still very
much a woman at heart. Active in her Phi Sigma Sigma sorority, and an occasional
shop-a-holic, Tatum brings a feminine touch to the track. She can often be seen
getting ready for a pull, decked out in her fire suit with curlers in her hair.
Female tendencies aside, Tatum is no stranger to what it takes to win - she proved that last February.
"I believe a good puller must have patience, a knowledge of how to read the track and
the ability to take advice from the crew," explained Tatum.
Pulling a distance of 232.37, Tatum walked away with a third place finish in the preliminary
competition. While not the best distance in the 6,200lb. 2-Wheel Drive Modified Truck Class,
it was all she needed to proceed into the Finals competition on Saturday
night. After a few anxiety-filled moments,
Tatum's Finals distance of 234.70 was the farthest pull, putting her above several
other top drivers in the class, and earning her the title of Finals Grand Champion.
While Tatum would love to prepare her truck for each pull from start to finish, a hectic
class schedule at Northern Kentucky University makes competition preparation a little difficult.
It's during the initial preparation that Tatum counts on her dad, Tony,
and brother, T.J., to get a 525 cubic Hemi engine ready to go.
"They do so much for me," expressed Tatum. "They have no idea how much I appreciate all their hard work and dedication to my success."
Tatum has a special respect for her father, who
she names as her biggest role model. Tony Tatum, who will pull on Thursday night
at the CTP, has given unselfishly to Lisa or years to get her pulling career off
"He's so unselfish, and he would rather see me win over him any day," she remarked.
One of Tatum's favorite things about competing
in the CTP - what she refers to as the Super Bowl of truck and tractor pulling -
is the chance to "beat up on the boys." Oddly enough, however, Tatum attributes
her most recent beating to a "lucky" peanut.
While many drivers have good luck charms or rituals
they perform before a big pull, Tatum's 2003 good luck charm was a lucky peanut
given to her by a mysterious fan efore the preliminary competitions. This peanut
made its way into the pocket of her fire suit for the class competition through
"It's still in the pocket," she laughed. "The
shell is gone, but there's still a piece of the peanut and I plan on keeping it
with me for this pull as well."
Tatum will graduate from college this June with
a degree in speech communications, but don't think that means the end of her pulling
career. She plans to compete in pulls the rest of her life.
"I love pulling. It keeps my family very close and also gives us a chance to become like family with other drivers," she said.
If you missed Tatum compete in "Full Throttle"
last February, don't miss her Friday night as she defends her title. She'll be there
on the sidelines anxiously awaiting her time - lucky peanut and all.