truck pull

Bethany Nelson sits behind the wheel of her truck. Submitted photo

Despite truck pulling's history as a male-dominated sport, Bethany Nelson of Altamont has competed in the sport professionally for two years. More women have been joining her.

"In recent history, you're seeing more females," Nelson said. "It's usually someone's daughter getting involved because their dad pulled."

That's how her sister-in-law, Misty Nelson, got her start.

"I've been involved since I was born," Misty Nelson said. "My dad was in it. And so at 16, I decided I wanted to do what my dad was doing."

In Bethany Nelson's case, it was her husband Jared's involvement that got her truck pulling full time in 2014. The two met because of the sport, she said.

The roar of the alcohol-fed engine and the burst of power thrills Bethany Nelson at competitions. But she said she also loves just talking with the other competitors before and after she drives.

"The people you meet," she said. "That's why I like this."

On Saturday, and again on Monday, Bethany and Misty Nelson will test their trucks in the two-wheel drive class at the Effingham County Fair in Altamont. But they both travel out of state for competitions too.

Wherever they go, the crowd seems to pull for the pair of female drivers.

"The crowd and fans really take to females," Bethany Nelson said. "They think it's cool to see a female out there pulling."

They'll try to get their trucks to haul a weighted sled farther than anyone else this weekend -- including their husbands who also compete.

"The competition is fun," Bethany Nelson said. "We wouldn't be out here if we didn't want to win. It's very family oriented. We bring our kids and they're involved."

For the young girls who watch at the track, Bethany and Misty Nelson, and other female drivers, demonstrate how motorsports aren't just for men.

"Younger girls know that we can do anything a guy can do," Misty Nelson said. "We try to be role models for those girls – to not give up if you're going against the boys."

"We let them know that there's a chance that they can do this," Bethany Nelson said. "It's not unattainable."

It's not unattainable for her two daughters, ages 10 and 7, either.

"We'll leave it up to them," Nelson said. "But we will give them the opportunity if they want."

Stan Polanski can be reached at stan.polanski@effinghamdailynews.com or 217-347-7151 ext. 131.

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