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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
|STREET DIESEL CLASS|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|LIGHT LIMITED SUPER STOCK TRACTOR CLASS|
|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|
|6000 LBS ANTIQUE TRACTOR CLASS|
|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|
|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|
|HOT SEMI CLASS|
|1||Bill Parks||Walton, KY||The 6th Seal||308.77|
|2||David Furnish||Cynthiana, KY||Old Timer||295.82|
|STREET GAS CLASS|
|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|