Smokin’ Up The Valley Charity Diesel Event
The diesel community has the reputation of being generous, especially when it comes to charity. Typically, diesel enthusiasts come out in force to raise thousands of dollars for the cause. And, when you combine a worthy cause with a great diesel event you’ll get an outpouring of support and a good show to go with it.
“Nearly 50 trucks took their turn spinning the dyno rollers with horsepower ranging from a low of 176 with an older gasser to more than 700 for the top diesel competitor.”
Such has been the case for the past six years with the Smokin’ Up The Valley event hosted by the Philadelphia, Tennessee, shop Diesel Den and its owners Josh and Whitney Watson. The seventh annual event was held this past October in Sweetwater, Tennessee, and was the largest event to date with $22,809 raised for the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital during the full day of diesel action.
Trucks started rolling onto the Sweetwater property owned by Rick and Bonnie Potter at around 8 a.m. Even though the sled pull did not start until about 6 p.m., there was plenty to keep diesel enthusiasts busy and entertained throughout the day.
The Show-N-Shine area sported a wide variety of trucks including new and old diesel rigs and a few cool conversions, all shined up and ready to impress. After the ballots were counted, the fan favorites were clear with the majority of votes going to the top three trucks with a ton cast for the 1963 Mack B61 truck that’s now being used by third generation puller Nick Hicks and was originally used by both his father and grandfather to haul their rigs to local pulls. Second place went to Miranda Ward with her 1999 Ford F-250 while third place went to Greg Lee for his 2006 Dodge 2500, showing that the voters liked a wide range of trucks.
While trucks were being ogled on one side of the main lot, the dyno team from No Limit Tuning & Design set up their Dyno Dynamics chassis dyno. Nearly 50 trucks took their turn spinning the dyno rollers with horsepower ranging from a low of 176 with an older gasser to more than 700 for the top diesel competitor. The dyno crew ran trucks across the rollers from around 10 a.m. until around 7 p.m. Staff from Tennessee’s Mobile Brick Oven Catering were on hand with traditional burgers and hot dogs as well as unique treats like snow cones, roasted corn, brick oven pizzas, BBQ, frog legs and fried Oreos to keep the crowd satisfied throughout the long day of diesel activity.
Fourteen of the dyno competitors put more than 500 hp to the rollers and 1,000 lb/ft of torque. The three most powerful trucks of the day were Dodges with Patrick Riner’s ’06 taking the top spot by putting more than 700 horsepower and 1,350 lb/ft of torque to the rear wheels. The most powerful Ford of the day was Jacob J.’s ’06 that delivered more than 600 hp to the rollers. The most powerful GM of the day was another ’06—a Chevy 2500 belonging to Shawn Wenzel that fell just short of 600 hp on the dyno.
There was little drama or carnage on the dyno this year, but Adam Doan was the exception to the rule and managed to create a big stir with his ’94 Dodge dually while dynoing. The chassis dyno that the No Limit team uses requires the removal of one rear wheel to fit into the rollers and the remaining passenger side tire evidently was not up to the challenge his 450-hp Cummins delivered, chucking the tread from the carcass and sending chunks of rubber flying through the air. Then to make things worse, seconds later a coolant hose burst, sending plumes of steam into the air.
As the sun started to dip lower in the sky, the grandstands on the lower portion of the Potter property began to fill to capacity in anticipation of a great night of pulling action. The first class to tackle Swann’s Southern Impact sled was the combined 2WD Diesel and 4WD Gas class where 14-year old Stephen Douglas dominated the class with the big-block Mopar-powered ’70 Dodge Power Wagon that he and his dad built together. The “kid” was followed by Alex Spoon in his ’79 Chevy and J.P. Reagan rounded out the podium with his ’01 Chevy.
The Work Stock class was the largest class of the night with nearly 40 hooks among a large contingent of Dodge and Chevy trucks with a couple Fords sprinkled into the mix. The Ford guys failed to crack the top five, though, leaving it to the Chevy and Dodge camp to fight it out for the win. When the dust settled on the track—the win went to the Dodge boys, err girl, with Whitney Watson putting about five and a half feet on the boys with her ’98 Dodge 3500. Second place also went to the Dodge camp with Adam Shepard and his ’03 Dodge 3500 while the top Chevy finished in third thanks to Jonathon Grudel and his ’02 Chevy 2500.
During a break between the Work Stock and 2.6 classes, the promoters held kiddie tractor races where all youngsters who wanted to participate were given a chance to race restored pedal tractors on the pull track in front of the main grandstands. Each youngster was given a participation ribbon to get them on their way to their diesel event trophy collection. After the kids were finished racing, everyone was treated to a serious John Deere tractor with an exhibition pull by Robert Galloway’s “Hulk vs. The Whoopie Avenger” Heavy Alcohol Super Stock class tractor driven by Andy Cox with the front wheels in the air and hammer down the length of the track.
Chris Newsome had a great night with his Fast Layne Diesel-built ’98 Dodge 3500 taking home the wins in both the 2.6 and Outlaw classes, winning by more than 50 feet in the 2.6 class and putting more than 45 feet on the small Outlaw class field. Justin Goode finished in second in 2.6 with his ’03 Chevy while third went to Drew Kemp in his ’01 Dodge.
Outlaw class favorites Josh Watson and Ryan Bean both had disappointing pulls, falling far short of the competition. Watson later realized that his uncharacteristic sub-200-foot pull was attributed to a malfunctioning mechanical air shutoff. Bean’s first hook in several years was hampered by an almost rookie mistake of selecting the wrong gear—maybe practice does make perfect and he has missed years of practice. Second place in the Outlaw class went to Drew Kemp and his ’01 Dodge that came just a few inches short of 300 feet and third place was taken by dyno winner Patrick Riner with his ’06 Dodge.
If you weren’t in east Tennessee to catch the Smokin’ Up The Valley event for yourself, check out the photos on these pages and if you’re inclined to join in and contribute to the charity event contact the Watsons at www.diesel-den.com and we’re sure they’ll be glad to make sure your donation makes it to the Children’s Hospital. If you happen to be in the area next year, come by and check out the event for yourself; it’s a great way to experience diesel motorsports while contributing to a good cause. DW
15750 Washington Pike
Philadelphia, TN 37874
No Limit Tuning & Design
419 West Lake Avenue
Rossville, GA 30741
MBS Diesel Performance
8317 Ball Camp Pike
Knoxville, TN 37931
Rick & Bonnie Potter
1032 New Highway 68
Sweetwater, TN 37874
Swann’s Pulling Sled
Dandridge, TN 37725