Steve Johnson, Former WTPA Board Member and Modified Competitor, Has Passed
WTPA has learned of the passing on Friday, October 16th of Steven Johnson, 69, of Holmen, Wisconsin. Mr. Johnson was a member of the Wisconsin Tractor Pullers Association and served as a member of the Board of Directors starting in 1986.
Steve was hired by Niedfeldt Trucking in La Crosse in his early years after graduating from the University of Wisconsin – River Falls. His early dedication and commitment to hard work led to him later co-owning the business from 1973 until 2000. In 1995, he established American Warehousing & Distribution which has grown into the success he had envisioned years ago. Pete lived his life with the motto “work hard, play harder” and no one did it better.
His love of all things driving and machinery resulted in earning his pilot’s license as well as a deep passion for truck and tractor pulling. Starting with entering into local truck pulls in the late 70’s led him to pulling 2 versions of the “Wild Hare” modified pulling tractor from 1980 through 1991. During this time, he traveled with his family throughout the state of Wisconsin on the WTPA circuit as well as nationally with the NTPA. He would win several state and national titles. In addition to competing, he held several WTPA board positions including Association President and a position as an NTPA director.
Steve’s first version of the “Wild Hare” was a single engine Donovan that he pulling from 1980 to 1983. The second version of the “Wild Hare” featured a crank-to-crank twin Donovan engine setup built by Rick Kippley and would make its debut in Taylorville, IL in 1985. This would become the version we all would come to recognize to this day. You are still able to see it pulling out in the state of New York with the current owner Sharon Everman under the same name “Wild Hare”.
In 1987, Steve would gain his first points title by capturing the NTPA Region I Championship in the 5200 lb Modified division while also finishing 4th in the Grand National points standings. Other accomplishments included winning Tomah, the Enderle Pulloff, and Bowling Green under TNT Motorsports. The following year, in 1988, Steve won the 5200 lb Modified NTPA Grand National Championship, the only national title of his pulling career. Not only did he win the championship, but he also defended his wins in Tomah and the Enderle Pulloff. He also competed at the National Farm Machinery Show in the 5800 lb Modified class where he finished 2nd. 1989 was another big year as Steve would win the NTPA Region III 7200 lb Modified class, finish 8th in the 7200 lb Modified Tractors Pro National points standings, and 3rd in the 5800 lb Modified Tractors NTPA Pro National points standings. This would also be the year he would capture his first and only National Farm Machinery Show win in the 5800 lb Modified class.
Steve is survived by his wife of nearly 49 years, Gaye; daughters Ginny (Eric) Lewison, Cary (Tom) Zimmerman and Sara (Bryan Olsen) Johnson; grandchildren Paige Lewison, Paityn Lewison, Jon Olsen and Shea Zimmerman; brother Scott (Diana) Johnson, sister Diane Jostad and many, many nieces, nephews, sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law.
Visitation will be held on Friday, October 23 from 10am -12:30pm at der Ferkle Barn, N7395 County Road W, Holmen. A service will follow at 1pm with Pastor Carol Garman officiating. Interment will be in the Halfway Creek Cemetery. Masks and appropriate social distancing are appreciated. A celebration of life will follow at der Ferkle Barn. Jandt –Fredrickson Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements.
We extend our deepest sympathy to Mr. Johnson’s family and to members and friends of the WTPA.
Obituary may be found here.
1989 NFMS 5800 lb Modified Tractor Winner
Photo Courtesy of Pulling Reference on Facebook
Steve Johnson “Wild Hare” – 5200 lb Modified Tractor
Photo Courtesy of Vintage Pulling Media on Facebook
1988 Elkhorn, WI Pulling in the 5200 lb Class
Video courtesy of Sidetracked Powered by DHD on Facebook
Steve getting a two page spread in the Puller Magazine.