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Pig-N-Ford Champion Ben Salo Embraces His Unusual Family Tradition


NW Stories: Pig-N-Ford Champion Ben Salo from SOJC on Vimeo.

Tillamook native Ben Salo has an unusual family legacy to uphold. Salo is part of a select group who compete in the Tillamook County Fair Pig-N-Ford World Championships, a race in which participants must grab a 20-pound pig from a pen, sprint to their Model T Ford, crank the engine, drive a lap around the track, exchange their pig for a new one and do it all over again.

Whoever competes three laps the fastest without losing their pig wins. This tradition is said to have started nearly 100 years ago when two farmers lost their pig and chased it down in a Model T. 

   Ben Salo and his father Ken celebrate Ben’s first-place win at the 2014 Tillamook County Fair Pig-N-Ford World Championships. 

Ben Salo and his father Ken celebrate Ben’s first-place win at the 2014 Tillamook County Fair Pig-N-Ford World Championships. 

Erik Bender /OR Media

While the sight of a driver holding a pig might be funny, competitors take the race as seriously as any other.

Cars and family titles are often passed down from generation to generation; in Salo’s case both his father and grandfather were Pig-N-Ford racers. For him, competing — and winning — is about honoring a family tradition.

And of course, having good old fun.

  “All of us are very passionate about it,” said Salo. “And I have a feeling that when I do have a kid, he’s going to be just as passionate about it as I am.”