At which sport do you see the combination of C10H20…C15H28 (or CH3OH)+ 1000…8000 bhp + >100 dB on a short track of 100 meters? You are at a tractor pulling event where standard and modified tractors (running on diesel fuel or methanol) compete with each other in strength and over distance. The sport originates in the ’50s from the United States, where farmers battled with each other by pulling a weight over a certain distance. In 1977 the sport was introduced in Europe (The Netherlands) and is still growing in popularity all over Europe. The rules are simple: pull a 28000 kg sled over a 100 m track. However, the tricky part is, that the sled will dig itself, due to its weight, more and more into the soil as the distance progresses. This causes a higher and higher friction: thus more resistance to the tractor.

Measurement history

There are several classes in the Tractor Pulling Sport, from Lightweight to Heavy Modified. All these Specials are unique and have an individual design based on an engine that could, for instance, be a tank engine or even a combination of multiple helicopter turbines. In the early years, nothing was measured. 

Signals and sensors


  • 6 to 10 Pressure sensors (turbo(s), inlet, oil, water, gasoline)
  • 6 to 16 Temperatures (one sensor per cylinder exhaust, oil)
  • 2 to 6 Counters (wheel speeds, engine rpm, turbo rpm)
  • Video (now post sync GoPro video)
  • Math channels


  • GPS (at least 5 pt/sec as the run is only 10 seconds!)
  • Combustion pressure (only for expert users)
  • Vibration measurement
  • Order tracking
  • Alarms (indicator and output)
  • A video camera that can withstand the huge shocks and vibrations

Measurement / Analyse

First tests were done with the Dewesoft MINITAURs data acquisition system and a CAN Bus measuring device for temperatures.

Experimental setup - MINITAURs instrument mounted under the drive shaft:


The final placement of the MINITAURs instrument and housing:​​​​​​​


Driver's view and measurement screen:​​​​​​​


Data presentation:​​​​​​​


Post analysis of the run:​​​​​​​


By collecting data over a time span of just 1 minute (the race takes only 10 seconds) the high-speed data provides a lot of useful information to optimize the tractor engine. Next to that, the engine failures can already be detected in an early stage, which saves money and downtime of the machine.

The Dewesoft solution is compact, fast and has an easy to use configurable user interface. For the driver, a simple view screen can be configured with just a few key information. After the run, the experts can perform extensive offline analyses and create statistics from the data collected during the run.