Saturday, May 19, 2012

Youngbuck Reveal

Have you ever found yourself sitting in the bleachers or standing in the pit area just lost in the beauty of Miles Stratton and Brad Moss’ Youngbuck?  I will never forget the first time I saw it in Owensboro, Kentucky.   The John Deere 7930 had such clean lines and an awesome appearance that I couldn’t stop looking at it and now that it has been out for years, I still find myself captivated by its distinct look.  Understand that I value the craftsmanship of every single pulling tractor and pulling machine in the sport and enjoy looking closely at the new details that pullers bring to the game.   I find myself from time to time reflecting on the professionalism and attention to detail that every puller seems to invest in their pulling equipment and it just blows my mind that a puller doesn’t forget the little things.  It was evident to me that Brad and Miles had not forgotten a detail with their first attempt of a pulling tractor.  

When B&M Motorsports first debuted the tractor in 2007, the immediate question that arose in my mind was:  "Where are the graphics?  Why is there no name on the side of the tractor?"   With a simple answer Brad Moss said: “Fans will know the name of the tractor and we prefer the clean look of it as it is”.  I was baffled as I couldn’t really recall a purely clear canvas and a tractor that did not have a logo, name, sponsor or anything on the shields.  In time the tractor has grown on me and many other folks who have come to know the distinct look of the Youngbuck.  

With great thought and a tremendous amount of preparation the B&M Motorsports Team  is prepared to re-introduce the pulling community to the new look of a fan favorite.  New for the 2012 season, Brad Moss and Miles Stratton have changed their tractor and it’s distinct look to dawn the name of TS Performance.  Both Moss and Stratton believe firmly in the product line of TS Performance and have cultivated a strong bond with the owners Dennis and Sheila Perry.  The relationship has been cultivated from the ground up with all parties sharing a simple bond in the love of diesel power and a desire to help grow the branding for TS.  After several years of conversing about sponsoring the Youngbuck, Dennis finally told the boys from Kentucky:  "We are going to do this", and the next steps were taken to get the TS Performance Youngbuck ready for its debut on the home turf of Franklin, Kentucky.  
Many folks may ask why they want to change that immaculate tractor and all I can say is change is a good thing.  In the sport where high volumes of capital are invested to go pulling, it is wonderful that teams are able to find a sponsorship to help them perform at the top of their game.  Secondly, if you know Brad Moss and Miles Stratton, you would understand that they simply would not change the tractor if they didn’t feel it was for the better.   With two of the keenest eyes in the game and undeniable attention to detail it is certain the boys from Schochoh, Kentucky are going to continue to turn heads with their John Deere 7930 Youngbuck.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

TS Performance Weekend

Those who follow truck and tractor pulling have certainly noticed that with each passing year, diesel pulling classes are growing exponentially.  As interest in the sport continues to grow so too does the pursuit for more power and efficiency under the hood within the diesel engine.  Another big change for pulling in the last decade has been the introduction of the diesel weekend, an action packed showcase of power and performance among the most knowledgeable diesel minds in the country.  This weekend in Franklin, Kentucky, a meeting of the diesel minds will take place at the TS Performance Show. 
What is TS Performance you might ask?   It is one of the most up and coming companies in the country thanks to its attention to detail and ability to improve upon fuel economy and power for diesel engines.  TS Performance was started in 1997 by Dennis and Sheila Perry and is located in Bowling Green, Kentucky.  What began as a personal challenge for Dennis to help a few friends find more power has grown into something beyond the Perry’s imagination.  From its inception, the Perry’s have understood the importance of giving back to the community in which they are so involved, and thus, they started the TS Performance weekend.  

The weekend began with diesel drag racing and a bikini competition but has continually grown and expanded with the brand.  Each year the customer’s of TS Performance encourage the Perry’s and their staff to raise the bar yet again, not just to showcase their power to their customers but also their commitment to giving back.  With that in mind, the Sled Pull was added several years ago  to make the schedule even more exciting for the diesel fanatics.  With a full list of classes contested, pulling action goes on for the better portion of Saturday with the 2.6 trucks vying for valuable qualifying positions in Saturday Night’s finals.   The Saturday Night session will feature the Pro Stock Tractors, Super Farm Tractors, Super Stock Diesel Trucks, Pro Street Diesel Trucks, 2.6 Diesel Trucks, and a little bit of noise thanks to the Super Modified Two Wheel Drive Trucks.  The classes will be sanctioned by the Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League and will serve as the inaugural event for the 2012 Midwest Region.
Having known very little about TS Performance, I was excited when the idea came up about a feature to highlight the weekend of action in Franklin.  Before I could gather all of the necessary information I wanted in order to fully write a story, I was treated to a firsthand experience of the power of a TS Performance application.  Over the weekend, I traveled to Lincolnton, North Carolina for the Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League Champions Tour event and rather than travel south by myself, I caught a lift with Jared and Bethany Nelson of Altamont, Illinois.  As we traveled through the Smokey Mountains and later the Gorge, I remember asking Jared what he had done to improve the power of his Peterbilt.  The simple answer was a new TS Peformance box and the proof of its power was evident as we left every other semi in the dust as we traveled through the mountains.  I found it to be so fitting that I would be able to give a personal testimonial of the raw power and improvements that it made to the pace at which the Nelson’s Peterbilt could travel.  However, what impressed Jared the most was not its power but efficiency with fuel mileage over the more than one thousand miles traveled. 
Photo Credit John Kraust
If you are free this weekend and are looking for a way to express your love for pulling and diesel smoke, look no further than the TS Performance Weekend.  Spend the day on Friday at historic Beech Dragway, where if history repeats itself records are sure to fall.  Wake up Saturday morning with a tour of the Vendor Alley to learn more about the products that exist to allow your diesel engine to run happy.  After the Vendor Alley, show your power and compare it to others on the Dyno.   Conclude your morning with a visit to the Show N Shine and a picture with the “Fuel Girls.”  At 11:00, the qualifying will start on the pulling track for the 2.6 trucks, and if all goes well, you should be able to make your way to the Bikini competition on the stage at 3:00.  At 6:00, the smoke will be flying as the pulling will begin and all six classes will be vying for bragging rights as the 2012 winner of the TS Performance Pull.
For more information on TS Performance and the weekend’s festivities, please visit www.tsperformance.com.  The question has been asked what will TS do to raise the bar in 2012 and only those in attendance will be able to find out! 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Lincolnton Saturday Night

The second night of Lincolnton is in the books!  The track was much more favorable this evening for the competitors of the Champions Tour and required a tremendous amount of power.   Below are the results from tonight’s competition.  My thoughts on the event will be posted early in the coming week.
1)Taking Care of Business Aaron  Hull 303.95
2)Bambi Duane Keener 300.53
3)Lesson’s Learned Neil Gettinger 299.35
4)XXX Frank Keener 295.16
5)Out of Time Aaron Hull 285.91
6)Fully Loaded Jeff Hothem 283.15
7)Runin Bare Jeff Hirt 281.99 

1)After Midnight John Mumma 307.79
2)MAV TV Keith Long 306.91 
3)Big Ed Red Donnie Sullivan 301.70
4)Midnight Madness Jordan Nelson 301.46
5)Midnight Gambler Jeremy Nelson 299.50
6)Lil Whip Donald Nelson 298.71
7)Ridin Dirty Keith Long 298.70
8)General Tire Cutting Edge Grayson Shelton 295.76
9)Gamblin After Dark Mark Austin 295.62
10)Midnight Revenger Jared Nelson 295.29
11)Full Throttle Lisa Tatum 292.90
12)Stimulus Package Chris Smith 292.18
13)Parts City Tony Tatum 290.99
14)Driller Tim Messer 285.38 

1)Takes A Lickin Steve Bunnage 317.43
2)75th Edition Joe Eder 313.08
3)Mr. Twister Scott Tedder 305.15
4)Mav TV/Lucas Oil Ricky Long 298.99
5)Shannon Leischner 298.16
6)Shel-Shocked Stan Shelton 293.67
7)Down and Dirty Michael Stewart 287.92
8)The Apache Darrick Barga 282.92
9)DirtChallenger Shannon Leischner 281.68
10)Texas Bullwhip Donald Nelson 272.17
11)The Judge Ron Barga Jr. 266.25
12)The Kentuckian Wayne Sullivan 216.16

Friday, May 11, 2012

Lincolnton, North Carolina

Night one in Lincolnton, North Carolina is in the books and was a success!  The track left many veteran pullers scratching their heads as they needed to find a means to get the rear tires hooked and pulling.  The folks of North Carolina were thrilled to have pulling back in Lincolnton after a few decade hiatus. 

Full results are posted below for the three classes of action.  Pulling will resume tomorrow evening at 7pm EST. 

Modified Tractor
1 Takes a Lickin Steve Bunnage 314.64
2 Mr. Twister Scott Tedder 286.18
3 The Judge Ron Barga Jr. 285.25
4 Kentuckian Wayne Sullivan 281.16
5 Dirt Challenger Shannon Leischner 271.51
6 Texas Bull Whip Donald Nelson 257.02
7 Mav TV/ Lucas Ricky Long 251.59
8 Dirtslinger Shannon Leischner 243.74
9 Shel-Shocked Stan Shelton 233.01
10 The Apache Darrick Barga 219.28
11 Down and Dirty Michael Stewart   178.68
12 75th Edition Joe Eder 174.92

Super Modified Two Wheel Drive
1 Donald Nelson Lil Whip 314.31
2 Jordan Nelson Midnight Madness 308.73
3 Jared Nelson Midnight Revenger 306.56
4 Jeremy Nelson Speedco Midnight Gambler 304.31
5 Tim Messer Driller 297.62
6 Mark Austin Gamblin After Dark 290.39
7 Keith Long Mav TV 285.60
8 John Mumma After Midnight 280.06
9 Tony Tatum Parts City 269.12
10 Donnie Sullivan Big Ed Red 268.25
11 Chris Smith Stimulus Package  265.64
12 Grayson Shelton General Tire Cutting Edge  364.89
13 Lisa Tatum Full Throttle 257.47
14 Keith Long Ridin Dirty 254.86

Unlimited Super Stock 

1 Jeff Hothem Fully Loaded 295.76
2 Aaron Hull Taking Care of Business 285.44
3 Aaron Hull Out of Time 280.76
4 Neil Gettinger Lessons Learned 274.55
5 Duane Keener Bambi 273.45
6 Billy Keener XXX 255.62
7 Jeff Hirt Runin Bare 195.67

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Do you know Larry Koester?

2010 photo of Larry in action!
Do you know Larry Koester?  Sure, I am confident you could pick him out at a tractor pull or in a room full of people, but do you truly know him?   Do you know the family man that he is?  Have you seen his eyes well up and his heart melt at the site of his granddaughter?  Do you know the successful businessman that operates a company from his home in Wadesville, Indiana?  Have you looked beyond the surface to gather an understanding of how this man has become the giant that he is in so many people's lives?

I ask these questions not to exude some arrogance for the knowledge I have of Larry and his family but more to encourage all of you to look beyond his initial appearance and see the real him.  Don't just allow yourself to assume you may know his character because you watched him make a full pull or heard him ask for help for the kids of Northwest Ohio.  Those actions are daily. They are ingrained in the man that is Larry Koester and are more of the makeup of this man than a measure of his character. 
Carsen meets Grandpa!

As you all know, I often draw on my childhood in the sport to find comparisons and a stronger understanding of what truck and tractor pulling is today.  As a child growing up within pulling there were few people that impacted my life more than Larry Koester.  I knew Larry Koester before he was the successful professional tractor puller that spent his off season at appearances and meet and greets for his sponsor Shell.  I knew Larry Koester when he traveled the circuit with a Chevy dually and a short enclosed trailer, but my true understanding of who he is didn't occur until I looked beyond Larry's physical appearance and saw the man he is inside.  The lessons that Larry can teach one are immeasurable and grow depending upon the amount of time you can invest with him.  

The big walk, as he escorts Ashley!
To see Larry standing tall on his daughter Ashley's wedding day was truly an experience that I will never forget, but to those who know him, there are no legs to be worn that can make him as tall as we see him already.  Larry is a loving husband, a proud father, a successful businessman, a professional puller, a tireless philanthropist, but most of all he is real.  He has the ability to share a moment with everyone; from a young boy who Larry helped gain a wish with the Make a Wish organization, to an adoring fan on the sidelines at a pull or a Fortune 500 Companies CEO, Larry can look a person square in the eye and gain their respect for more than just his character in the face of adversity.

What makes this man tick is an undying self motivation, a focus on being successful and a true devotion to go above and beyond the norm.  His passion and zest for life are contagious, spreading through his inner circle like a wild fire.  He stays grounded by pouring himself into the things his most passionate about, his family, his friends, pulling and music.  Did I ask if you knew of Larry's love of music?  Have you heard his baritone voice belt out an Elvis song?  If you haven't heard him sing, I challenge you to join in on one of the impromptu karaoke sessions conducted on his John Deere Gator after a pull.  Watching him sing will only punctuate Larry's strong passion for life!

Larry signs autographs with Bill Goldberg!
One may ask the question, how do I know Larry Koester?  The answer is simple.  Though I have grown taller, Larry still reaches my height in every occurrence.  Larry's favorite saying is:  "You don't need feet to kick butt".  What Larry has taught me is you don't need feet for a lot of things especially the measure of a man.

Do you know Larry Koester?  Do you truly know him?

Photo credit to Tracy Waters

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! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IM67DCHyWlE