Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Keystone Nationals Recap by Will Whitt for WWPTV

Every winter, I look forward to one marquee event, the Keystone Winter Indoor Nationals from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Forget for a moment that it brings numerous leagues together. There are NTPA classes here, such as the Super Farm and Light Pro Stock. But this is one of the biggest indoor truck shows as well. Over the past decade or so 6400 Pro Stock 4x4 would run with 6200 National trucks and their big Sonny Leonard HEMIs. For the past years now, these "Outlaw" trucks have had their own class to compete in.

Interstate Truck and Tractor Pullers (ITTP) are well represented at this event and why wouldn't they be as Forrester New Holland serves as the major supplier of track/toe vehicles. Pictured above, we see Jason Forrester (middle), and Matt "Smokey" Smith signing autographed puller cards.  With several pullers including 2015 Champion Jeff Mikloiche and Demented moving to 8500 Mod Turbo, a gaping void has been left. In Virginia, they run this class as 7800 Light Pro Stocks with P Pumps. The P Pump topic has left many a man scratching his head thinking, "What is the difference?", "Money versus durability", and "If your A Pump is so big and bad, why can't I run my P Pump against you guys". With numbers dwindling in the Light Limited class, the time has come for some rule adjustments. Now P Pumps can run with A Pumps. The more likely scenario is P Pumps will run versus P Pumps and A Pumps as long as pullers can keep their's running. On any given Saturday, three ITTP A Pump equipped tractors can come down to Virginia from Pennsylvania and beat seven P Pump equipped tractors. Of the pullers I have spoken to the range of horsepower is from 1200-1500 horsepower without even guessing. It is truly one of the most competitive classes across the region.

The Light Limited Turbo class for 2018 saw four hooks take place before Matthew Dersham put his International 706 in the beach deep.  The class was reset and Bradley Wastler put his tractor "Whistlin' Red" right back in the beach as the fourth to last tractor to run in the field thirteen.  A newcomer to Keystone, Ted Ingram and his Acme Rocket Ford 9600 couldn't stay off the right line.  Matt "Smokey" Smith made two good passes in the opening round, one being before the sled reset.  He was the lone blue one to make the finals  The lone representative from Virginia was Steve Flint and his "Headcase IH".  The last tractor to make the finals was Ben Flaherty Jr and his "Smokin' Red" 1066.

Move forward two nights and the Smith-driven New Holland got out to a good start.  But on this night, Bradley Wastler and his front suspension put the required feet to take home the title.

Feeling Froggy?  Mike Schoenemann and Feelin' Froggy Extreme did.  Mike had a good run Thursday night only to finish the run with a dismounted tire toward the end of the run.  Vehicles were twisting and turning.  They wanted nothing to do with the Pennsylvania dirt.  The wildest ride went to Don Healey from Winchester on his "Non-cents" modified.  It was tough to watch and hard to stop looking at the footage at the same time.

The most consistent would have to had been the runs put together by Mark Culbertson and "Sparky" the Ford-powered modified from Chambersburg, PA.  Mark finished Thursday night with the top spot and Saturday night just 2 feet shy of the leader earning a solid second place.

In the end, Feelin' Froggy Extreme got right for his title taking pass.

The 8500 Mod Turbo class ranges from 2000-2200 horsepower and puts it to the ground on just about every track.  But the sled setting was dialed in on just about all heats and the finals.  The 2018 Keystone crowd got to see the return of Randy Devaughn and the "Road Gear Farmer" which did really well to land him a spot in the finals.  Howard Meredith Jr and "Meredith's Agitator" gave em hell and answered the bell when his number was called.  He made it in.  Jason Forrester and Papa Smurf has been on a two-year tear something the pulling world doesn't see too much of with so much good competition to get in the finals.  Kevin Utt had a good run to get in with "Rolling Thunder".  But the Williams' "Firestorm" driven by TJ, was just too much.  It finished the morning session just behind Kevin Utt with a picture-perfect pass.  Come to the evening finals session, lightning struck twice if you will, and TJ put six feet on the class.  Virginia is for Pullers!

European pulling fans, take a second and scroll down, we are to talk trucks for a second.  I want to tell you a story about a family.  The built a city basically like an actual Jefferson Starship.  Rose and Jeff Jenkins have been pulling for decades now.  And they have trucks turning high 9000 RPMs.  Rose took that power and made it work while the boys were blowing their tires off Thursday night.  She then came back and backed it up in the Finals on Saturday night.

What do you do when you buy a sled from Vaughn Bauer?  You find a class to hook it up to.  The 1850 Big Block Mini Modified class will work.

Travis Seylar and "Go-fer Broke" made his mini work everytime he hooked up.  Logan Thomas went for a ride and the Decision Maker crew did a great job keeping the action on the track.  Rob Wise's "Longshot" finished the weekend second going 246.  Travis went 261 feet.

What do you do when you win an event, league, championship?  You start thinking about defending your title.  Jason Svonavec had this dilemma as he and his "Bootlegger" Pro Stock took the 2017 Keystone title.  Jason backed it up finishing the Friday night session just 2/10ths of a foot behind Robert Martin and "John Deere Green".  Fast Forward to Satrudays finals and the "Bootlegger" got the show started by going 256.59 to set the table.  Robert Martin came back on "John Deere Green" and went 249.   Russel Hildenbrand's "Loose Canon" went 243, Josh Martin's "Think Green" went 232.

I look forward to the Grand National Pro Stocks in Benson, North Carolina in early June.  It is just so much power with some of them pushing nearly 5000 horsepower.  I encourage fans to get out to pulls and check theses beasts out in person.  It is something else!

There were two heats of 6200 National Modified 4x4 on the weekend Friday night Troy Nails took the win in his 1949 Killin' Time Chrevolet from Hedgesville, West Virginia.  The tagline on the rear of this truck, "Built by two pricks in the sticks".  That attention to detail also earned Troy best in show for the Mod 4x4 class.

Saturday afternoons show saw Graham Young from Versailles, Kentucky beat out previous champ Dean Hitchcock to make the finals going 247.84.  There are many Dodge's like Grahams, but they don't seem to have the big time wins that Graham is used to.

In the Saturday evening show, Graham went 247.85 a model of consistency to beat Troy Nails and the other 6 trucks to take home the 2018 Mod 4x4 title.

For the 2018 Keystone Nationals, a decision was made to bring some parity to the Super Stocks.  The Diesels were split up from the Alcohol tractors.

Justin Weaver brought his Adrenaline International Harvester and it ran perfectly all weekend.  He landed a spot in the finals by beating five strong tractors on Friday night going 240.44.  He finished in the finals second going 231.63.

The winner in the Super Stock class was Henry Everman in his Blackbourn built Case Forced Decision.  I asked him one time, "So, are you a lawyer or something?"  He said, "I just like the name!"  Henry went 242.72 to take the Alcohol title.  Henry, I'm sure could have hovered all the way back to Danville, New York.

I mentioned that the winner for the Super Stock class was Henry Everman, that applied to the Super Stock Diesel class as well.  Henry came in second Friday night to Rich Horton and "Lil More Patience" who went 263.09.

Kent Payne pulled so hard to go 259.10 that he destroyed a section of the smoke tube used to help guide the smoke to the exterior of the building.  Keystone/Forrester/Moonshine Motorsports staff all took a few minutes to clear their heads and duct tape tubing back together.  Action resumed and the finals were set for Saturday.

Only two could pull, Rich and Henry.  Kent Payne was a scratch.  Rich went first and had a good run going until he crossed the left sideline and DQ with a distance of 237.92.

Man of the hour, Henry Everman went next on Final Decision and went 244.95 to complete the Super Stock sweep.  He proved to be simply solid in both classes on this weekend.

8000 Pro Stock Diesel 4x4 saw Chris Mast and Skeeter Control take the 2018 title.  He went 224.96.  The furthest distance previously in this class was 240.69 by Carl Ankiewicz on Friday night.  Chris finished third in that session, but came back and went further than anybody else when it counted.  He put 4 feet on the next nearest competitor.  Carl finished second in the finals.  Joe Hemm was third and Jake Slingluff was fourth.

The 9300 Super Farm class is a brute force kind of class.  The tractors are so close, it really is anyone's track on any given event.  The most consistent team has been the Audets from Burlington, Vermont.  Tyler Audet and his Pure Bred Red too the 2018 Championship going 254.61.  There's no crying over spilt milk in this class.  Nick Audet came in fourth going 238.13.  Randy Forest and Bucking Binder came in second and RJ Dennison was third.

The 10,000 Pro Farm class is so big, Interstate Truck and Tractor Pullers have to have two divisions a North and a South.  The Northern division went to Josh Beachel of McClure, Pennsylvania.  He came down to Keystone with momentum.  He took the finals Saturday night going 251.02.  And who else came in second, but one of our sponsors, Chad Nesselrodt of Big L Tire of Harrisonburg and Recap This going 242.12. RED POWER!

2018 brought several new attractions to Keystone.  A kiddie carnival, signed autograph sessions, a Papa Smurf, and an exhibition class by 2500HP Mini Rods.  There were 4 slated to dig in the dirt, but only 3 could hook.  Keith Horst and "Red Fox" went 261.15, Larry Flood and the "Carolina Krpyt Keeper" wen 212.74, and Wayne Garrett and "Mini Chaos" went 112.34.  It was a decent enough showing that brings certain sponsors with them.

It was a tremendous weekend of action in a lot of different classes.  The action was excellent, the food was great, and the atmosphere was great.  If you are in say 700 miles of this event, it is a can't miss for you if you call yourself a pulling fan.

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Some videos will appear on WWPTV's YouTube:

The official DVD set can be purchased here:

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