Diesel Den’s Annual Smokin’ Up The Valley Children’s Charity Event

The performance diesel community is full of manufacturers, shops and enthusiasts with hearts as big as their trucks. It is not at all uncommon to see folks within the performance diesel community to come to the aid of complete strangers just as quickly as lifelong friends and family.

Shane Ryans (left) won the Best Dodge award with his super clean 1st Gen but had it loaded up on the trailer by the time we got into position to take our winner's pics. Andrew Ward (right) took home the Best Ford trophy with his bright red 6.7-liter Power Stroke, but he wasn’t done for the day as we caught up with him as he was in line to participate in the dirt drags with his rig.

2019 marked the 13th consecutive year that Diesel Den hosted Smokin’ Up The Valley to benefit the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital charity fund. This year the event raised around $10,000 for the charity that is near and dear to Diesel Den owner Josh Watson and his family. Around 2,000 spectators came out to enjoy the day of family-friendly diesel performance action in eastern Tennessee.

Once again the event was held at the I-75 Raceway in Niota, Tennesse situated between Chattanooga and Knoxville not far from the interstate freeway. With great weather on hand for the competitors and spectators that were able to enjoy a small show-n-sine competition, as well as arm-drop head-to-head dirt, drags, Battle of the Bluegrass sled pulling action and of course the ever popular pedal-tractor races with the kids!

The terrace viewing area was a great place to “tailgate” and hang out with friends and family while looking on at the diesel action that takes place on the track. This high riding OBS Ford is rolling on a custom suspension system and massive 26-inch American Force wheels wrapped in 37-inch tires!

The day got underway with the show-n-shine competition that featured a small group of trucks and ended early in the afternoon with Shane Ryans taking home the trophy for Best Dodge with his immaculately restored blue and silver 1993 Ram W250 first-gen truck and Andrew Ward winning the Best Ford trophy for his bright red late-model 6.7-liter Power Stroke F-250 Super Duty. Apparently the GM guys were afraid to show off their rigs so the Best GM award went unclaimed this year.

Dirt Drags

Shortly after the show-n-shine hardware was handed out competitors started lining up for the dirt drags. Trucks were divided into two basic classes based on transmission used rather than power or modifications with automatic trucks racing against other automatics and manual trucks versus manuals. The track was laid out in the infield of the circle track allowing spectators to view the action from the main grandstands or the hillside tier parking area on the far side of the track.

Drivers were given several test runs down the red-clay track surface to get a feel for the launch and shut down areas before elimination rounds began. To give the racers more track time and spectators more racing action double eliminations were employed meaning that each driver had to lose two races before he was eliminated from the race.

Racers were able to run head to head with an arm-drop start during the dirt drags. Double eliminations and several practice runs gave everyone that entered a chance to make multiple runs down the dirt.

Ten drivers were set to do battle in the automatic transmission class with five running for the win in the manual transmission class. Trophies, prize money and of course bragging rights were on the line and the small field of diesel and gas-powered racers took things seriously each time they pulled to the line. Among the group of automatic racers, Colton Boring finished third with Phillip Shelton in second and Zack Bivens taking the class win. In the manual field, third place went to Cody Arnold while Cordell Collins finished as the runner-up and Josh Key took home the big trophy for the class win.

The final round in the Manual Transmission class was a Dodge on Dodge Cummins vs Cummins battle that ended with Josh Key taking the win over Cordell Collins. It was a Dodge versus Chevy battle in the Automatic Transmission class final round with Zack Bivens and his Dodge pulling out the win over Phillip Shelton’s Chevy.

No matter where they finished all of the racers enjoyed the dirt drags and the only carnage on the track was from hurt feelings. Dirt drags are a great way to have fun with your truck in a controlled environment where there is little danger of hurting your truck and something that nearly anyone can do, we wholeheartedly recommend giving it a try if you ever have the opportunity, we’re sure you’ll be glad that you did!

Dirt Drag Results



Sled Pulling

Next up on the diesel entertainment docket was the main attraction, sled pulling! This year’s Smokin’ Up The Valley sled pull competition was handled by the Battle of the Bluegrass Pulling Series as a sanctioned competition rather than running as an unsanctioned pull as it has in year’s past.

As the sun began to set in the distance, the grandstands began to fill to capacity in anticipation of the sled pull, the main event at the Annual Smokin’ Up The Valley event.

The sanctioning body hosted seven total classes including two tractor classes, three diesel truck classes, two semi-truck classes and a gas truck class with a total of 51 competitors hooking to the Southern Express Pulling sled. Pulling action started at about 7:00 and wrapped up a little after 11:00 giving diesel fans a full day of high-performance diesel action all to benefit the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital charity fund.

Earl Dingus (left) rode into the sunset on the way to winning the 6000 LBS Antique Tractor class, out pulling his competition by nearly 150 feet!

The first group to attack the sled was the 6,000 pound Farm Stock tractor class with four competitors pulling the sled down the clay infield of the circle track. Three of the competitors were closely matched pulling around 200 feet, but the class of the field was head and shoulders above the rest with Earl Dingus pulling the sled along for a ride that was just short of 350-feet, more than double the distance of the fourth-place tractor.

This bright white Dodge pulled into a beautiful red sunset over the red clay track with dirt flying into the air as he scrambled for traction to move the sled forward. We’re not quite sure why he’s checking the mirror; the sled is still there as this big yellow Ford drags it along for a ride.

Pulling after the Farm Stock tractors were the largest class of the night, the Street Diesel class with thirteen competitors vying for the win. All of the trucks in the class managed to drag the sled for more than 200 feet with the top two finishers Bryson Ramsey and class winner Randall Hardyman pulling beyond the 300-foot marker showing that street trucks can be competitive in pulling just like their competition-only counterparts.

Light Limited Super Stock tractors pulled next with a group of nine pullers hooking to and attempting to go the distance with the Southern Express sled. The LLSS class was highly competitive with six of the tractors pulling over 300 feet and the top three finishers separated by less than a foot at just under 320 feet each. Travis Gordon bested the field with his 319.15-foot hook while Steve Dye took second with a 318.68-foot pull and Garrett Filiatreau finished third with his 318.58-foot run.

Randall Hardyman had the Street Diesel class covered taking the win by more than 15 feet.

Fans were treated to 3.0 class diesel truck pulling action next where seven of the top trucks in the region were on hand to do battle on the Tennessee clay. With trucks on hand from Kentucky, Indiana, and Tennessee, the field of competitors was stacked and did not let the fans down with each of the trucks pulling beyond the 320-foot mark.

Crowd favorite Josh Land (left) had a good pull going in “The Crippler” but fell a few feet short of the win in the 3.0 Diesel Truck class. Kenny Smith (right) took the 3.0 class win over Josh Land with his bright blue Ford taking the sled on a nearly 350-foot ride down the Tennessee clay.

The Kentucky trucks ruled the day taking the top three spots with Austin Fulks finishing third with a 335-foot hook. Josh Land used his hand controls to drive the crowd favorite “The Crippler” Dodge to second with a 341 foot pull while the class win went to Kenny Smith at nearly 350 feet.

The kiddie pedal tractor races are always a hit at the Smokin’ Up The Valley events with parents cheering on their little ones as they race for glory (and a ribbon). Diesel Den owner Josh Watson gives this little one a helping hand to finish his race.

After the 3.0 class pulled the Diesel Den crew held their annual children’s pedal tractor races for all of the kids in attendance that were willing to give it a shot. Held between the grandstands and the track fence the pedal tractor races have long been a crowd favorite at the Smokin’ Up The Valley events. Kids were each awarded ribbons for completing the races and had tons of fun while doing it. Of course, the parents had fun cheering on their little ones as well.

Even some of the older “kiddies” wanted to get in on the pedal tractor action. This didn’t always turn out for the best though!

Once the pedal tractor races were completed the 2.5 class diesel trucks hit the clay with three Tennessee trucks and one from Kentucky. As with the 3.0 trucks the 2.5 trucks put on a great show with each of the trucks pulling past the 300-foot marker at the end of the track.

Kenny Smith (left) won the 3.0 class with a pull of nearly 350 feet! Carson Maples (right) won the 2.5 Diesel Truck class with a pull of more than 320 feet.

Randall Hardyman wasn’t able to match his Street Diesel class win against the 2.5 class field but he did finish third putting his truck on the podium in both classes. Second place went to local Justin Combs from Sweetwater, Tenessee with a 317-foot pull but fell short of the win to fellow Tennessean Carson Maples with his 321-foot hook.

Six semis pulled on the night with four in the Semi class and two in the Hot Semi class. Harry Hampton won the Semi class while Bill Parks was victorious in the Hot Semi class with the only semi pull beyond 300 feet. The pulling action on the night came to a close with the gas-powered truck class with eight competitors where Randall Pryor taking the win with the longest pull of the night at just over 365 feet.

Harry Hampton won the Semi Truck class with his Freightliner called Justified. Bill Parks puts the power down in an exciting 300+ foot hook in the Hot Semi Truck class.

As with the past Smokin’ Up The Valley events that the Diesel Den team hosted, the 2019 event was a family-friendly fun day of diesel performance for Eastern Tennessee diesel enthusiasts. Through the efforts of Josh Watson and his dedicated team of volunteers and employees, the event has once again raised a ton of money to benefit the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.

If you happen to be in the area for the 2020 Smokin’ Up The Valley event (follow the Diesel Den social media for the latest details and information) load up the family in your diesel truck and head over to the event to spectate and/or participate we’re sure that you will be glad that you did.

Sled Pulling Results

Randall Hardyman celebrates his Street Diesel class win with the big check presented by a Battle of the Bluegrass official.

Place  Driver Hometown Truck Name Distance
1 Randall Hardyman Tollesboro, KY Highly Suspect 337.36
2 Bryson Ramsey Pigeon Forge, TN 06 Ram 2500 311.41
3 Paula Smith Boring Dunlap, TN Medusa 292.58
4 Tyler Greene LaFollette, TN 08 Dodge 290.41
5 Brandon Ramsey Pigeon Forge, TN 06 Ram 3500 287.07
6 Justin Sharp New Tazwell, TN 02 Dodge 283.98
7 Derrick Nelson LaFollette, TN 01 F350 279.87
8 Cody Arnold Powell, TN Dodge 3500 279.57
9 Bryce Dalton Washburn, TN Duramax 276.79
10 John Alexander Phildephia, TN 10 Dodge 266.6
11 Caleb Rice Cleveland, TN 6.0 Power Stroke 261.04
12 Jarret Reagan Jamestown, TN Flat Broke 238.43
13 Jeff Butler Madisonville, TN Duramax 226.52

Carson Maples smiles as he receives his oversized check for the 2.5 Diesel Truck class win.

Place  Driver Hometown Truck Name Distance
1 Carson Maples Washburn, TN Coming Along 321.1
2 Justin Combs Sweetwater, TN Big Ben 317.29
3 Randall Hardyman Tollesboro, KY Highly Suspect 312.21
4 Kendall Rolen Blaine, TN White Lighting 300.45

Kenny Smith and his family celebrate their 3.0 Diesel Truck class win with the big Battle of the Bluegrass check.

Place  Driver Hometown Truck Name Distance
1 Kenny Smith Waynesburg, KY Kennys Pulling Parts 348.57
2 Josh Land Lancaster, KY The Crippler 341.82
3 Austin Fulks Crittenden, KY Smooth Character 335.47
4 Jason Suiter Burnettsville, IN 97 Dodge 333.93
5 Matt Sparkman Commiskey, IN Midnight Hooker 333.28
6 Robert Williams Rochester, IN Sharp Edges 323.29
7 John Rogers LaFollette, TN Chasen Dreams 322.44

Travis Gordon and his team celebrate their winning effort in the extremely competitive Light Limited Super Stock Tractor class.

Place  Driver Hometown Tractor Name Distance
1 Travis Gordon Fairfield, KY Total Recall 3 319.15
2 Steve Dye Science Ridge, KY Fencerow Fugitive 318.68
3 Garrett Filiatreau Cox’s Creek, KY Bruiser 318.58
4 Brad Powell Lagrange, KY Out For Revenge 310.98
5 Mark Filitreau Cox’s Creek, KY Ruthless 309.09
6 Chuck Dye Science Ridge, KY Under The Influence 302.19
7 Corbin Lester Tazwell, TN Little Mule 292.33
8 Ron Mitchell Shelbyville, IN AC180 290.73
9 Jody Dalton Tazwell, TN Out On Parol 248.24

Place  Driver Hometown Tractor Name Distance
1 Earl Dingus Johnston City, TN 55 MM GB 349.12
2 Jerry Steadman Whiteburg, TN 880 Oliver 214.96
3 James Jag Evansville, TN Farmall 400 205.1
4 David Haught Dayton, TN WD 45 Allis 168.98


Place  Driver Hometown Truck Name Distance
1 Harry Hampton Orangeburg, KY Justified 298.46
2 Mark Ward Maysville, KY Justified 2 293.32
3 Tim Gentry Sweetwater, TN 379 Pete Lucy 274.27
4 Darrell Fannin Tollesboro, KY Green Hornet 259.17


Harry Hampton (left) and his crew celebrate their hard-earned win in the Semi Truck class. Bill Parks (perks) and his crew are all smiles as they celebrate their Hot Semi class win.

Place  Driver Hometown Truck Name Distance
1 Bill Parks Walton, KY The 6th Seal 308.77
2 David Furnish Cynthiana, KY Old Timer 295.82
Place  Driver Hometown Truck Name Distance
1 Randall Pryor Crossville, TN 78 Ford 365.51
2 Scott Jones Crossville, TN Southern Pride 328.89
3 Benny Pryor Crossville, TN 92 Dodge 319.88
4 LD Pryor Crossville, TN Here Comes Trouble 318.58
5 Mitchell Pryor Crossville, TN Dog House Express 316.17
6 Benny Pryor, Jr Crossville, TN 85 Dodge 314.2
7 Shawn Letsinger Athens, TN Don’t Trend On Me 303.21
8 John Kuhn Crossville, TN Hillbilly Deluxe 34.05

About the author

Chris Tobin

Chris Tobin has been interested in motorsports since before he could legally drive. He has built, driven and raced just about everything from scale RCs to motorcycles, cars, and trucks on the drag strip and off-road.
Read My Articles

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