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