They say if it has wheels, people will find a way to race it. I had no idea that this also applied to pig wranglin’, but at the Tillamook County Fair in Oregon, the Pig-N-Ford races are a hit of the weekend.
According to local legend, the Pig-N-Ford races kicked off in 1925 when a kind fellow driving a Model T spotted a runaway hog. He chased after it, scooped it up, and returned it to his neighbor with the squealing pig under one arm. The races at the County Fair have been organized ever since in honor of this good samaritan.
Now, they’ve turned the whole shebang into an organized race. Each August, racers scoop up their 20 lb pig of choice from a designated pen, run to their car, and crank their Model T to life with their free hand. Then they cruise around the dirt track for a lap, kill the engine, and scoop up a different pig on your pit stop.
If you’re the first lucky fellow to cross the finish line after three laps and you haven’t dropped your wriggly piggy, you’re the winner. Congratulations. Nobody wins any money for their efforts, but you will have the unique pleasure of having your name carved on the winner’s cup. And the sweet pigs head home with nothing but the memories of roaring engines and being manhandled by burly drivers.
Don’t be fooled, folks. This might sound like a fun fair feature, but, according to The Wall Street Journal, there’s a whole rule book preventing the kind of shenanigans you’d probably expect to pop up. For example, there was quite the problem with some drivers bumping and grinding their competitors, hoping it would make them drop their pig. Or, latecomers would park their cars in front of the faster guys during the pit-swap pit stop. You can even pay $100 to challenge a car’s legality if you think someone might be cheating.
Much like your local dirt track racing, the Pig-N-Ford competition is very much a family affair. Drivers are a part of the Tillamook County Model T Pig-N-Ford Association, where membership is a lifelong deal that can be passed down through the family or sold to close friends, along with the car. Some of the first cars that ran in the 1925 event are still on track today.
On another note, I’m starting to factor Oregon into my summer plans next year. I need to see this in person.