By Carol McIntire
When Jeff Hothem talks about his latest accolade on the tractor pulling circuit, it is with humility.
Hothem, a Carroll County resident, was named the Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League (PPL) Puller of the Year during the 10th annual banquet held Oct. 31 in Indianapolis.
Hothem was sitting at a table with his parents, John and Barbara Hothem listening during the banquet as “hints” were given as to who was going to be named Puller of the Year.
“We were trying to figure out who it was going to be,” Hothem said. “I was shocked when they called my name.”
The award is based on sportsmanship and professionalism, according to Johnathan Mears, PPL technical director who presented the award.
“He could have been nominated for Welcoming Committee and/or Most Musical Trailer,” said Mears. “He is a guy who always has a smile on his face and is willing to lend a hand or a wrench to anyone he can. We are blessed to have him as a friend, competitor and a public servant. Several individuals are deserving of this prestigious award, but Jeff has excelled in all aspects of becoming a true ambassador to our sport that we all love.”
Hothem, a 14-year veteran of the sport, said his goal is to promote the sport he loves any way he can, especially through social media, which in turn helps the sponsors who are helping the sport.
“His Twitter user name, @fullyloaded8345, and his Facebook page, NAPA/Carlyle Tools Fully Loaded Unlimited Alcohol Super Stock, offer insights into the family pulling operation and the pulling circuit.
“This is truly a family operation for us,” said Hothem talking about his parents and their involvement with the team.
“At the pulls, we open the trailer, set up the Carlyle Tools NAPA tent and welcome visitors. We have a unique camaraderie among the pullers. You are competitors on the track, but if a puller needs a tool or even a part, someone is there ready to help. I’ve seen pullers pull a part of their tractor, put it on someone else’s tractor to get them to the track and then put it back on their tractor when they come off the track. It’s just what we do.”
The team is a popular site at pulls driving their ATV in front of the crowd and shooting t-shirts out a “rocket launcher” into the crowd.
“Jeff is a very social person and connects with people through social media,” Barbara said. “He’s very personable.” His personable side is evidenced by the fact that his Facebook page has over 4,000 friends who follow the progress of his team.
Hothem and his John Deere 8345R known as the Caryle Tools Fully Loaded Unlimited Alcohol Super Strock tractor, have been pulling on the PPL circuit since 2010.
He started pulling in the Diesel Super Stock class on the Ohio State Tractor Pullers (OSTPA) circuit but realized a diesel could not compete in that class with the changes being made.
Karlen Motorsports built the Fully Loaded alcohol powered tractor, a 642 cubic inch six cylinder engine that features three turbos, and the team made the move to the PPL Champions Circuit in 2011.
The team received a boost when the Carrollton NAPA Distribution Center became a sponsor about four years ago.
“They are great people and I can’t say enough about what they do for our sport,” said Hothem. “They have bent over backwards to help us with anything we need. They led us to the people at Caryle which has really changed things up.”
Hothem said the team was at at pull at Greenville in 2014 when the folks from Carlyle Tools were making the rounds in the pit area.
“They saw our NAPA canopy and we started talking. And, as they say, the rest is history.”
Hothem and Carlyle unveiled a new look for the previously green John Deere when they unveiled a new look at the Louisville Farm Show in February 2015.
“They wrapped the tractor in the Carlyle logo and it looks awesome,” Hothem said.
In spite of encounteing some bumps along the way during the 2015 season (two blown engines), the Fully Loaded team garnered four top five finishes on the circuit.
Hothem smiled and shook his head when he said, “we suffered some tough engine repairs.”
He is quick to give credit to everyone around him for the award and the success of his tractor.
“Mom and dad are always there,” he said. “and my crew member Austin Baker, who has been with us three years, is great. We are a team and it takes all of us, including everyone from NAPA and Carlyle Tools, to make it happen.”