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Four Wheel Drive Diesel Sled Pulling - 80 Years Of Sled Pulling

The Movers And Shakers In Diesel's Most Captivating Sport

Photography by Courtesy of Bosch,

The sport of sled pulling has come a long way since being introduced in Vaughnsville, Ohio, and Bowling Green, Missouri, in 1929. Competitive sled pulling began with conventional farm tractors. For decades, tractor pulling enthusiasts crafted performance parts and developed driving techniques to out-pull their rivals. After years of research and practice with high-horsepower tractors, gas-powered pickups entered the game in the '70s and were well received. The same couldn't be said for diesel trucks, which were initially looked down on by the majority of competitors. But in time, proven setups, relentless innovations, and dedicated fans all led to the explosive emergence of today's four-wheel-drive diesel sled pulling scene.

Those that were able to forecast the four-wheel-drive diesel explosion, both on the pavement and in the dirt, have also been the most successful in the diesel aftermarket. Some of the biggest names in sled pulling today helped ignite the diesel-pickup fire just a decade ago.

Humble Beginnings
It would be hard to say who first thought of hooking to the sled with their 6.2L Chevy or 6.9L Ford diesels. Van Haisley of Haisley Machine claims that, long before the Cummins arrived, the first diesel pickup down the track was an '83 Ford F-250 in 1983. By 1984, Haisley followed suit, piloting a '75 Chevy powered by a 6.2L, and equipped with a Gale Banks turbo. As you can imagine, diesel victories were not common in these early days, as any diesel owner wanting to compete had to do so against highly modified gas-powered vehicles. Gene Mohney, a former competitor and current official for the National Association of Diesel Motorsports, agrees that the gas guys were a tough crowd to pull with, even in the mid '90s. Competing with a diesel-powered truck usually meant you would be waiting long after nightfall to get your chance to go down the track.

Dave Mitchell, owner of Enterprise Engine Performance (EEP), vividly remembers those early days, where diesel trucks were still considered outsiders in the sport. "They threw us in the run-what-you-brung class, we always pulled last, and sometimes not until early in the morning. But, you had to start somewhere, and fans would hang right in there just to watch it."

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