The pull of Bradley Roy’s hobby

He calls it his “play truck.” He might drive it on the street, but it’s on a dirt track pulling tens of thousands of pounds that Bradley Roy has the most fun with his dually.

Roy, the 20-year-old kid wonder on the Bassmaster Elite Series trail, has been into sled-pulling this summer. He’s also been known to take his big red truck to the asphalt for a hot summer’s night of drag racing, but lately he’s been sticking to truck pulls.

“It’s just something fun I do,” said Roy, at home in Lancaster, Ky., for a few rare weeks off from bass competitions and appearances at fishing shows.

Pulling is a growing motorsport. There are many variations on the theme, but basically a driver in a modified pickup truck attempts to tow a weighted sled along a straight track. Some sleds are so big they tower over the truck. Each pull is over in a minute. Competition is by class of truck; the winner in a class is the truck that pulls farthest.

Roy’s class is diesel, a relative newcomer to the sport whose roots go back to the 1920s and farm tractors. He took up truck pulling and drag racing several years ago after he met the owners of a performance diesel shop.

“I’m down there a lot when I’m home, and we work on our play trucks,” Roy said. “It doesn’t take precedence over my fishing, but when I don’t have something going on, the truck is what I do.”

The truck is the four-wheel-drive vehicle he used in his rookie fishing season. It wasn’t new when he put it into service towing his boat from town to town, and after 2010, he decided it had too many miles on it, too many cosmetic issues. He bought a new truck and got started on turning the older truck into a puller.

Roy estimated that the sleds he pulls run 40,000 to 60,000 pounds. To budge that kind of weight requires, for starters, four wheels on the rear axle, so he made the truck into a dually. Many other modifications were needed to turn the vehicle into a sled puller.

“Ninety-five percent of the work was done by me and my friends,” he said.

Roy soon won’t have much time for trucks and tracks. He’s enrolled in the fall semester at Kentucky Community and Technical College, where he’s studying business management and marketing. He’s also planning time on the road to scout 2012 Elite Series venues. He wants to give himself every advantage to recapture the momentum of a third-place finish in the final 2011 season tournament, a last-hour patch on an otherwise frustrating season. He finished 65th in points, missing his season goal of qualifying for the 2012 Bassmaster Classic.

“My sophomore year was less than what I wanted it to be, but that’s part of the growing. I’m 20 years old; I’m still learning what works best for me,” he pointed out. “But I left on a strong note, and I’m anxious to get back at it.”

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