Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Grayson Shelton is the new man in town!

Photo Credit Jesse Post JP Pulling Productions
Since he was a little boy, Grayson Shelton has been his fathers sidekick as they traveled across the country to pulls on the circuit.   Though he may not have a full memory of all of the trips he made as a young man, one memory rings true and that was at the age of ten when someone asked him if he would drive a pulling truck someday?  The young man from New London, North Carolina was quick to answer the question with a very simple, Heck Yes!  From that moment, the next generation puller began to pay a little bit more attention, but it wasn't until a few years ago that Grayson began making mental notes in preparation of the time when he would be able to strap in behind the wheel of 2500 horses.  With full intentions of having his chance to pull in the future, Grayson began to ask his father pulling legend Stan Shelton more and more about pulling.  Having shared such a special bond of loving the sport, Stan couldn't have been more proud to share his knowledge with his son and over time he began to give more team responsibilities to Grayson.   What the high schooler took with him into his debut last weekend in Saluda, South Carolina was a an open mind and a willingness to learn a new facet of the sport.  "We tried really hard to make sure that Grayson was prepared to do all of the little things that add up before he would actually begin his pull.  It can be trying for a puller to get backed up to the sled and remain composed.  Grayson practiced backing up to me at home before we left for the pull and I felt like he was prepared to just focus on driving," stated a proud father Stan.

As a proud father stood track side on Friday night, a nervous son worked his way back to the pulling sled.  After pulling forward just slightly to tighten up on the drawbar, Grayson took a deep breath to compose himself and then bent the throttle over on his General Tire Cutting Edge Ford.  Just about ten seconds later, Grayson found himself floating through the air as he powered down the track, which was all part of the plan his father had set up for him.  "We wanted him to have to drive the truck so we did not weigh the front of it down.  Grayson did a great job driving the truck and gradually applied the brake to bring the front of the truck back down," added Stan.
Photo Credit Jesse Post JP Pulling Productions

As an avid hunter and outdoorsmen, Grayson has developed a tremendous amount of patience and maturity for a young man.  Both maturity and patience are attributes that his father and team believe will allow him to grow and experience longevity behind the wheel of a truck.  For now Grayson will focus on winding down his sophomore year at North Stanly High School with full intentions of spending a summer on the road with his new truck and his mentor father!    

Miles Beyond 300 took a minute to catch up with Grayson after his big weekend in Saluda for a Question and Answer session .

Can you describe the way you felt leading into the pull and how it felt to burn the tires in with your Ford Ranger?
My first pass in the truck meant so much to me after watching all those years and then finally getting my chance to drive was just indescribable.

What did you learn from Friday Night to Saturday?
One thing I learned in transition from Friday night to Saturday night was driving style.  On Friday night, the plan was just the typical ease into the throttle and get the truck going, but on Saturday night, my dad told me to get after it a little quicker, which I did.

What was the most challenging point of the run for you?
The most challenging part of the run was the first part and easing into the throttle in attempt to avoid burning the tires off the truck.

Was it as easy as you may have thought or more difficult?
Going into the pull I was thinking that I had a good idea at what I was doing and how to drive the truck.
Photo Credit Jesse Post JP Pulling Productions

What is it like being the youngest person in the league?

Being the youngest puller in the league is so cool.  My dad and crew member's tell me that since I am a rookie, nothing is expected out of me.

Other than your father did you receive advice from your competitors?

I didn't really receive any advice from my competitors, but they were all wishing me luck telling me I would do fine. Most of them came up and shook my hand after the pull and told me I did a great job which really meant a lot to me.  It just goes to show what a good group of competitors the Pro Pulling League has!

Can you describe your experience in Saluda in a word?
One word to describe Saluda...Incredible.

Were you nervous, What did you do to manage your nerves?
I wasn't really nervous until the television interviews started and I started suiting up to compete.  When I got in the truck and all ready to go, I was nervous beyond belief!

Did you develop any sort of ritual you hope to follow with each pull?
Photo Credit Jesse Post JP Pulling Productions
Before every pull I like to take a deep breath and relax.  I just try to tell myself that this is my time to shine, and it's just me and my truck.

What are your goals as you head into your rookie season?
My goal for each pull is to beat one more competitor than I did last time and hopefully have good finishes by the end of the season.

What did your dad tell you after you drove off the track? 
My dad told me when I drove off the track that I did a great job, which meant a lot to me!  My dad is my mentor and the person I look up to.  Pulling is our thing together as we get to spend a lot of time throughout the summer traveling, and I am so excited as we plan to pull together this season.

What advice would you give to the ten year old boy or girl who is dreaming of being in your shoes someday?
Pay attention to the game and learn everything you can.

Special thanks to Grayson and Stan Shelton for sharing this story with Miles Beyond 300 and to Jesse Post of JP Pulling Productions for the photos. 

Watch Grayson take a ride over the weekend, as well as his father's first pass of the season on Shel-Shocked!

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