Sim's Farm and Lumber, a great setting for a pull. This is one of the best tracks we see on our tour through Virginia. It also has some pretty god crowds. A few years ago, they said they gave out about 4,500 arm bands. That is a big crowd for this type of regional event. This pull is in the heart of Virginia Pulling country with a handful of pulls with an hour from this one. So needless to say fans are treated with a lot of good pulling around them.
It was exactly seven years ago that Matt Smith, Jason Wiekel, Ben Flaherty, Sue Johnson, Fred Hoch and others pullers came down to duel with Paul Schrock, Josh Sims, and Ernie Sims. It seems just like yesterday at this very location they dueled. In the end Matt Smith aka "Smokey" laid down several fine runs to take the night. Fast Forward to 2016 and the schedules aligned to bring this young man from Chambersburg, Pennsylvania back to southern Virginia. I talked to Matt's brother Mark and told him, "You know if Smokey comes down here, it could be a decent payout for you two." Well Mark was cooking that world famous Smith's chicken both nights, so Smokey would pull double duty for these events. Friday night started out with Josh Sims laying down a fine run. Sled is set. Josh turned it down. It probably wouldn't hold and it didn't. Next comes Smokey and takes his "Fast Forward" New Holland 319.32 feet. He then drives brother Mark's tractor 309.48 good enough for second place. I asked Josh Sims, "What is it about Smokey and this track?" He looked at me and said, "Aw man, he just loves pulling here!" I asked Matt about it later and he echoed that. "I love pulling at this track!" Kenny Rippeon, Smokey's riding mate for the weekend rounded out the top three with a run of 302.72. In August it seemed as if everyone was going big, 320 feet plus. On this night, just the top three managed 300 feet. Bob Martin took the fourth spot with a run of 298 and 20.
Saturday night. It was more of the same for Smokey. On this night he would drive the Ford 9600 of Mark to the top spot going 343.56 and parking his tractor just behind that at 333.35. Bob Martin represented the Dragon boys well trying to bust up the party going 332.14 on his International Harvester 966 to earn the third spot for night two. A far cry from 375 feet laid down by Bob Martin last year. Everyone went over 315 feet. Parran Bean, Ted Ingram, Steve Flint, Josh Sims, Roger Collier, and Kenny Rippeon to round up the class. The big winner on the weekend was Smokey, but we all the real winner was the fans. It is officially Light Pro Stock/Light Limited season. It is with out a doubt the best smelling part of summer.
Tradition. It is a strong word. Family is another. Rebecca Brizendine had no idea what experiences awaited her, but they were some big shoes to fill if she every decided to climb in the seat of that old GMC called "Footloose". Originally called the Jungle Jim and driven by Jim Cutchin from Franklin, Virginia, Temple and his Dad bought this vehicle back in the mid-eighties. They toured the region and country taking this truck all around claiming bragging rights here, there, and everywhere. It is a GMC on the body. “About the only Ford and Chevrolet parts that remain on these things are their outer shells,” says Temple in a 2012 interview. “It's a high dollar investment, but they do it for the bragging rights.” So Rebecca knows a few things about horse riding, but no one knew exactly how long the transition would be from a 15 horse power animal to a 1300+ horse power truck. Each time down the track was better and better. Recently Rebecca competed in the big stage at Benson, North Carolina and was in the middle of the pack. Not bad, but, no one wants to be just middle of the pack. Traditions are best remembered when they involve winning. And that is exactly what she did Saturday night. Now, not your normal star studded class. We have 4 trucks each night. Four good pullers in their own right. All want bragging rights. Mike Shifflett got the show started and went 303.31. Next came Rebecca and went 312.71. Aaron Smothers came next and went 306.61 giving the Brizendines a short lived scare ending in a sigh of relief. Last another rookie puller Clayton Sours, son of Wyatt, took the Wa$ted Wage$ Ford 163.74 feet with apparent issues. Troy Nails took the Friday Night Session going 321.63 and Rebecca went 315.83. That gave her a number two and a number one spot for the weekend moving her right up in the standings. She is just 14 points behind Michael Shifflett and his Ford Hemi. Michael has 204 points going into the Summer Nationals at Millers Tavern. We caught up with Rebecca and this is what she had to say.
@WWP: You have a few wins under your belt. How does it feel?
Rebecca: It feels great. Makes me want to go out for more.
@WWP: How does it help having so much pulling experience in your corner?
Rebecca: My granddaddy and my daddy definitely know what they are talking about and always give me some good tips.
@WWP: Can it be too much information sometimes?
Rebecca: At times daddy will tell me what he thinks I should do but he knows it all depends on what I feel when I'm in the truck.
@WWP: While some local pullers are off chasing Grand National points, what are your goals for this year?
Rebecca: Just to get more experience and seat time in the truck. Maybe one year chase grand national points when I get more experience under my belt.
@WWP: What is your favorite track so far?
Rebecca: Isle of Wight or Lynchburg.
@WWP: Well best of luck on your 2016 season! Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions.
Rebecca: Thanks Will.
We head back to Millers Tavern, home to Temple and Rebecca and the whole Brizendine clan. The Summer Nationals are something to behold. There will be some lawn mower racing early with the big show starting at 7PM. Small Block 4x4 tucks will be running as well. Dragon Motorsports Park is at 1790 Howerton Road in Dunnsville, Virginia.
I do want to say a special thanks to all the fine people working this pull! Mr. Wells, you have a great bunch of people working this event and cannot wait until next year. Thanks for making me feel right at home.
Pictures from the event.