“An old East Texas country boy starting out playing and then went up in the national ranks.”
This is how pro truck puller Charlie Hinds of Quitman describes his journey to become one of the top contestants in the pro pulling league.
Hinds began his pulling career in the mid-80s in Quitman with amateur truck pulls and at local fire department fundraisers. Then life got in the way of his truck pulling pursuit.
He and his wife, Laurie, took a break from truck pulling to raise their kids and start their business, Hinds Metal Buildings.
After taking a 17-year hiatus, Hinds returned to his passion.
“We got our kids raised and we started back pulling. We pulled Outlaw Association at the state level for probably about five years. After five years, we hooked up with Lucas Oil Pro Pulling (League),” he said. “Through the years, we’ve worked ourselves up through the Lucas Oil deal, and we’re on what they call a champion tour in the pro ranks.”
Now he’s second in points nationally.
The Hinds joined the Lucas Oil competition in 2006 and they enter about 20 events in a year. At the championship in 2018, he finished fifth at Lucas Oil Stadium in Missouri.
Lucas Oil Pro Pulling tours the country to showcase various vehicles and their drivers’ abilities in pulling. The object of the contests is to see who can pull a weight transfer sled the furthest with their truck.
Hinds explained that his love for four-wheel drive trucks over the years drew him to the pulling sport.
“Back when I was growing up here and graduated here … everybody had four-wheel drives,” he said. “We were either in the mud or something.”
Charlie recalled seeing many Texan drivers in contests back in the day. Now, he is the only driver representing Texas in the league.
“I’d always say it would be cool to run with them guys,” he said. “There were so many trucks like this in Texas back in the ‘90s. It’s unbelievable. We’re the only truck left now representing the state of Texas.”
To show pride in their state, the truck features a Texas flag-themed paint job. It’s named “Runnin’ Wild: Texas Style”
“We represent our state as far as the level of competition, and our truck represents the state of Texas,” he said.
Truck pulling is a family affair for the Hinds team. Charlie drives the truck, while Laurie and their son-in-law, Don King, work as the pit crew with their friend Andy Buschjost of Missouri.
“Most all pullers are family (or) got their family with them. It’s a close-knit bunch of guys (and) a second family,” he said.
Drivers compete for money prizes at the various pull events, and they have some big-name sponsors on their trucks as well as their professional pit crew wear.
Over the years, they’ve competed in five national title championships. Competitions are televised on national networks. In 2017, Hinds placed second in the finals and was interviewed on ABC Sports.
So far this year, the Hinds came in third out of 21 trucks at Rudy’s Diesel Spring Truck Jam in North Carolina in April.
Being a part of the national truck pulling community has given the Hinds the chance to travel across the country and meet new people along the way.
“We enjoy having the friendship and the friends we’ve made all over the Midwest. I mean we’ve got friends from South Carolina to Canada, Indiana and everything in between, Nebraska, Missouri and Iowa,” Charlie said. “I guess we enjoy the travelling, the friendship and we enjoy the competition. We’re just fortunate to be able to compete at the level we compete at.”
The Hinds talk to the friends they pull with more than people with whom they grew up, said Laurie.
Travel and driving in truck pulls does take some serious preparation. Their team travels in a semi truck for pulls, and it functions as a rolling RV.
The Hinds use their knowledge of each track and technology to make necessary adjustments.
“All the tracks are different. You have to gear different, you have to put different amounts of air in your front tires and your back tires,” Laurie explained. “The truck itself has an onboard computer. We can go back and review everything. It’s kind of like a diagnostic tool.”
They use a device called a weather station to show the adjusted altitude, which tells them if fuel changes should be made. Drivers are able to choose where they want to pull on a track to find a spot that’s well-suited for pulling, she added.
Their next national event, the Mackville Nationals, is set for June 14 to 15 in Mackville, Wis. For an amateur truck pull, they will attend an event put on by the Outlaw Association in Whitewright, Texas, on June 28 to 29.