A Tillamook tradition since 1925, the Pig N’ Fords race was packed with spectators again this year – some said the most ever. Marty Walker took home the top honors this year in his No. 13 Model T. He’s a returning champion with numerous previous wins.
The one-of-a-kind race has the drivers snatch up a pig from the starting line, rush to their Model T, crank it up while clutching the oinker, and speed off for a lap. They swap in a fresh pig for the second lap, crank that engine up again and they’re off. It’s a three-lap event. Before the race, drivers pick numbered ping-pong balls that determine starting positions and which pigs they’ll have riding shotgun.
The spectacle was born after Tillamook County farmers who were transporting pigs had one get loose. They had so much fun chasing the escaped pig around in their Model T Ford that it became a fair event.
Parry Hurliman, who owns the No. 18 car driven by Nick Hurliman, said in the old days anybody could get into the race. In the early 1950s, a 10-franchise racing association was formed. The race was divided into two heats with five cars racing one day and the five another and they began recording finale champions. Kenny McDonald took the first championship win in 1952 in the No. 10 car. An exhibition race was added for fun around a decade ago.
“You can’t afford to screw up or miss a crank or you’re toast,” Hurliman said of the intense competition. The champion wins a revolving trophy engraved with all the past winners’ names and bragging rights until next year.
In a mudslinging finale this past year, first-time winner Jake Martin unseated then-reigning champion Ben Salo, who came in second. Walker finished third in 2018.