PURE FUN

Diesel Den’s 10th An­nual Smokin’ Up The Val­ley Char­ity Event 2016

Ultimate Diesel Builder's Guide - - Contents - Text: Kyle Tobin Pho­tog­ra­phy: Chris Tobin and Kyle Tobin

10th An­nual Smokin’ Up The Val­ley Char­ity Event

The best diesel events are all about fun. The thrill of be­ing a kid (or kid at heart) as you watch mas­sive toy trucks fly­ing down the dirt or pulling a heavy sled. When you add to that an out­stand­ing cause like the East Ten­nessee Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal char­ity fund, you’ve got a sight to see. Josh Wat­son, owner of Diesel Den, and his great group of friends and fam­ily sup­port­ing the event have con­sis­tently put on a great show in Sweet­wa­ter, Ten­nessee, and their 10th an­nual Smokin’ Up The Val­ley was no ex­cep­tion. This event gets to the core of diesel motorsports, with the pure fun and ex­cite­ment of pow­er­ful diesel trucks show­ing their mus­cle on the dirt with all day ac­tion of dirt drag racing and sled pulling. No na­tional se­ries points to worry about, just a char­ity to sup­port and of course some brag­ging rights to take home. Ex­cited yet?

As soon as the gates opened at the I-75 Race­way, beau­ti­ful trucks were lin­ing the park­ing lots to spec­tate and com­pete. A lo­cal fa­vorite, the Show ‘N Shine area filled quickly as fans flocked in to ogle the lifted, low­ered and pol­ished trucks. Andy Hacker’s sleek, un­der­stated cus­tom work on his gray 2002 Chevy 2500 HD caught the judges’ at­ten­tion and won him the Best GM award. The red and sil­ver 1990 Dodge 250 Cum­mins has been a con­sis­tent top awarded truck for it lus­trous paint work and at­ten­tion to de­tail, and Ja­son Gunn took home an­other tro­phy for the Best Dodge. Dal­ton Mon­roe and his dark green and gold lifted du­ally 1999 Ford F-350 was deemed the Best Ford of the event. And the elu­sive Mike Evans’ bright or­ange 1978 Ford be­came the Best Open to round out the Show ‘N Shine.

But the ac­tion was just be­gin­ning as trucks made their way down the ramp into the cir­cle track’s in­field for Mi­randa Ward to herd them to­gether and be­gin the dirt drags. Nearly 20 trucks charged down the bumpy sur­face to­ward the fin­ish where they would

brake hard be­fore the berm. Well… hope­fully be­fore the berm. Colton Bor­ing pushed a bit too hard for the win and once his truck started brake hop­ping a bit over the bumps, he was un­able to stop be­fore the end of the track and jumped off the berm for more than a truck length be­fore a hard land­ing on the flat be­low. Bor­ing was fine af­ter he caught his breath from the tough land­ing, but no one was keen to over­shoot the brak­ing zone again.

Once the ac­tion got back go­ing, the trucks were trimmed down in their two classes of man­ual trans­mis­sion and au­to­matic trans­mis­sion. The man­ual class fi­nal came down to a close race be­tween Dodge trucks as Jesse Smallen took the class win from Hunter Qualls. An­other close race de­cided the au­to­matic class champ as Nathan Sparks’ Dodge nar­rowly pulled past Adam Doan in his Ford.

As the sun was be­gin­ning to set, the stands were fill­ing over the brim for the main event: the Smokin’ Up The Val­ley Out­law sled pull. Swan’s Pulling Sled lined up and was ready to be yanked down the clay right in front of the crowd. Wat­son and his Diesel Den crew again hosted seven dif­fer­ent classes, al­low­ing the crowd pleas­ing big power trucks as well as giv­ing the av­er­age Joe a chance at a hook. Street Stock was the first class to take a hit on the clay, where Hol­lis Mor­ton’s 2004 Chevy 2500 took the class win by over 10-feet with his 288-foot pull.

The next to cross the scales and hook were the 2.5 trucks, and by the end of the class, an all-chevy podium ap­peared. El­liot Hooper’s 2001 2500 and Hank Carl­ton’s 2003 2500 bat­tled to within two feet of each other for sec­ond and third re­spec­tively. But reg­u­lar top per­former, April Brown­ing, pulled her 2006 3500 Du­ra­max five feet past the boys to claim first place in the 2.5 class with a 361foot run. The loud gasser Pro Mod 4x4s hit the clay next, where Steve Clem’s 2006 Chevy Colorado took the top spot with a 340-foot pull.

No Smokin’ Up The Val­ley event would be complete with­out the kid­die trac­tor pull, which came at a brief in­ter­mis­sion where young ones flocked to the bot­tom of the stands for some pedal trac­tor fun. Up next was the 2.6 di­vi­sion, where Justin Tip­ton in a 1998 Dodge 3500 pulled 314 feet, yank­ing his way onto the podium by only eight inches. Ernie Hul­ing sent his 2001 Dodge 2500 to sec­ond place by pulling well past Tip­ton with a 327-foot pull. But El­liot Hooper took his 2001 Chevy 2500 more than ten feet past that for a class-winning 338-foot hook.

Hot Street Gas was up next and Stephen Dou­glas’ 1969 Dodge took the win. Af­ter the last diesel class ran, the Street Gas class had last call on the sled and LD Pryor’s Chevy took the vic­tory. The Open class was the last field that was truly smok­ing up the val­ley as dark swirling clouds of soot hung over­head. Justin Tip­ton was in­volved in an­other tight bat­tle when he came in third by less than five inches with his 313.06-foot pull to Bran­don Harrington in his 1995 Dodge 2500, who pulled 313.42 to move into sec­ond place. But Casey Rupe hur­tled past them all in his 1996 Dodge 2500 to win the Open class with a 341-foot pull.

Septem­ber 24, 2016, saw the Smokin’ Up The Val­ley event reach ten years old and we en­joyed every minute of it. There was fun around every cor­ner as the 3,000 or so peo­ple in at­ten­dance took in the Show ‘N Shine, dirt drags, and of course the sled pull. And that crowd, along with the com­peti­tors’ help, was able to con­trib­ute $27,000 for Josh Wat­son and the Diesel Den fam­ily to do­nate straight to the East Ten­nessee Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal char­ity fund. With straight­for­ward com­pe­ti­tion, home-style fam­ily friendly en­vi­ron­ment, and a wor­thy cause to cham­pion, the 10th an­nual event was ev­ery­thing you could ask of a diesel event and more. Plans are al­ready in the works for the 2017 event with Septem­ber 30 set aside as the date, so mark you cal­en­dars and plan to be there; we will be, and we’re sure you’ll be glad if you do. Fol­low Diesel Den’s so­cial me­dia pres­ence for the lat­est de­tails and in­for­ma­tion. UDBG

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