The Ice Bear Tractor project started in February 1996. Mike Simmons, well known on the UK tractor pulling circuit, approached Valmet with the proposal to build a unit to run in the UK Pro Stock championship. Valmet had run Super Stock tractors on the European circuit for a number of years and were very much involved in the sport. Ray West, the Managing Director of Valmet UK, agreed a joint venture with Mike to form 'The Ice Bear Pulling Team'.
A complete rear axle unit was found in Cornwall off an accident damaged tractor. This was the start of our great journey. In April we found a damaged cab in Sweden and shipped it over. An engine duly arrived from the factory in June ready to go to work and finally a set of bonnet panels was located in Ireland in September 1996. With all the main components assembled worked commenced.
Over the winter of 1996 and into Spring 1997 all the special parts required were manufactured and the 'Ice Bear' duly arrived on 17th May 1997. Mike has been crowned UK Pro Stock Champion 5 times with Ice Bear in 1997, 1998, 1999, 2004 and 2009 as well as a 3rd at the European Championships at Great Eccleston in 1998.
Over the years the tractor has changed almost beyond recognition and now sports in excess of 1,500hp, some of the latest specialist racing parts and a new livery from 2010 reflecting our major sponsor LuK.
2005 another team member - Baby Bear
Gareth Jones had assisted Mike over a number of years of tractor pulling and after a break away from the sport embarked on building a tractor of his own, as he affectionatley said at the time 'from all the bits left over from Mike!' Baby Bear duly arrived, a little prematurely, straight in to European action in June 2005. After an interesting first season 2006 was a good proving ground for BB with even a few podium finishes. In 2007 Gareth was UK Prostock champion and BB has since also collected a couple of third places in teh championship.
Although the 'second' tractor in the team every year we have developed Baby Bear and it is now very competitive in the UK and surprises a few people in Europe occasionally.