We love truck shows that raise money for a good cause. This year marks my third time attending the Draggin’ & Pullin’ In The Pines event, held October 21-22, at the Pine Valley Raceway in Lufkin, TX. This has become one of my personal favorite shows, after finding out about it a few years ago, and a great way to wrap up the show season.
Nestled in the pines of East Texas, Pine Valley Raceway in Lufkin has been the perfect home for this show and all it has to offer. Some of the great things to see include bobtail and loaded semi drag races, a semi-truck beauty competition, truck and modified tractor pulls, a car and motorcycle competition hosted by Hatermade Apparel, live music, and fun for the whole family!
Draggin’ & Pullin’ In The Pines was started by Ronnie Kelly of Kelly Truck Parts and Josh Burch with East Texas Truck Center about six years ago as a customer appreciation show and shine. They thought no one would come and told some of their staff to not even come in that day. Ronnie and Josh laughed while telling this story, saying that they were proved wrong. As the lot quickly filled up, they urgently called in staff members to come help.
As a Marine Veteran, Mission 22 is near and dear to Josh’s heart, so it’s no surprise that the show benefits Mission 22 and the Wyakin Warrior Foundation. Mission 22 gets the number 22 from the staggering number of veterans that die by suicide each and every day in America. Mission 22 provides support to veterans with post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, or military sexual trauma. Wyakin Warrior Foundation works to help the wounded or injured veterans to live successful and fulfilling civilian lives through education, development, and guidance.
As per Texas weather in October, we’re always surprised. With beautiful days, sunshine, and temperatures in the upper 70s, it was good until the sun went down and the temps dropped to the 40s, leaving many of us, myself included, scrounging for sweatshirts and what little warmth we could find for the light show and tractor pulls. This year, the truck show competition saw an exciting change, as the National Association of Show Trucks (NAST) came on board for their final event of the year to run and judge the truck beauty competition.
Usually when going to this show, I meet my husband there, and it is our last weekend getaway for the summer. This year, our girls were on a two week Fall break, so I loaded them up, along with our Frenchie, Grinch, and hit the road first thing Thursday morning. The girls love Texas as much as I do so they were ready. We arrived that evening at about 5:00 PM to meet Terry (my husband) and our Pug, Diesel, while he was having our truck polished by Okie Shine.
Friday was busy with truck parking and everyone wiping down their rigs for the show. In the distance, we could see black smoke and hear big horsepower and loud pipes, as the semi-trucks were out on the drag strip making practice runs in preparation for Saturday’s races. Drivers came from all over, including Canada, to race. Race Director Eric Gauvreau from Quebec was on hand to help make the races run smoothly. Eric is a common face in the uphill race scene in Canada, and he is also the race director for the Great Lakes Uphill Drags in Onaway, MI and the Rodeo du Camion event in Notre-Dame-du-Nord, Quebec, Canada.
If you’ve never seen any of these races, you are missing out! Topsoil Terry on YouTube has plenty of videos posted up from this event, as well as the uphill drag races in Onaway, MI, to give you an idea of the excitement these races have to offer. The bobtail classes showcased some of the biggest horsepower race trucks in the United States and some amazing trucks that came down from Canada. The loaded class, consisting of bobtail contestants hooked to a flatbed trailer loaded with logs weighing 40,000 pounds, raced against each other and the clock to determine who had the best pulling power and the quickest speed.
As the Friday practice races came to an end, some diesel smoke action took place at the northwest end of the grounds with truck pulls. A favorite pastime for many folks, the pulls did not disappoint. Saturday was an exciting day, for sure. Rags down happened at 8:00 AM for the show trucks participating in the NAST judged event and, shortly thereafter, the semi drag races began. As the drag races began, the spectator presence grew by the minute, filling up the stands, for some exciting racing action. Awards began at 5:00 PM shortly after the races concluded around dusk.
After the awards, the final evening of the truck pulls began, which was just as exciting as Friday night. As with Friday night, spectators were called out from the stands to do push-ups in an effort to raise more money for the two charities. On both nights, Ronnie Kelly announced that he would match the amount raised from the push-ups done by the spectators. Two classes were competing for the points championship that evening, and the winners were Dan Vallance with “The Farm Truck” in the 3.0 Diesel Pulling Truck Class, and the Ulmer Family with “Sweet Pain” took the Modified Tractor Class. A treat for the pull spectators was the over 40 semis that signed up to participate in the pulls, including race trucks and trucks from the truck show portion of the event!
Stoney Larue, a Red Dirt favorite, closed out the show Friday night by playing songs like “Travelin Kind” and “Feet Don’t Touch The Ground” – crowd favorites, for sure. Class Pays Fab were the sponsors of the show’s first-ever foam party for the kids. There were also bounce houses for the kids and food vendors for every taste bud throughout the facility. Special thanks from the show to their amazing team of sponsors, volunteers, spectators, and registrants, because without all of them, this event wouldn’t be the success it is.
Congratulations to all of the semi race winners, including Martin Lalone and his “Mean Machine” for winning not only first in the Class A Bobtail bracket, but in the Class A Loaded bracket, as well! The show trucks were amazing, and I was proud that my husband Terry’s 379 was among them. Other big winners included Kaleb Hammett (Best Working Bobtail), Ben Overton (Best Working Combo), David Schnautz (Best Antique), and Matt Schreiner of J&L Contracting (Best Limited Miles).
I think I can speak for everyone when I say we all had a great time and appreciate all the time and effort that goes into putting everything together for an event like this. We love being part of this showin’ and draggin’ and pullin’ for a cause event, and already have our calendars marked for next year’s show, being held on October 20-21, 2023. We hope to see you there, too!