History of CHALLENGE IN THE HILLS

Daniele Wilfong and Brandon (Goober) Pennington are in the red Jeeps.

By Cathy Bonner

The Parsons Advocate

Memorial Day Weekend is traditionally a family time of visiting, picnicing, and honoring the family members who have passed on.  But here in Tucker County, another tradition has been firmily established.  If you are traveling south of Parsons on 219, you will hear the loud roar of engines and tailpipes and the equally loud roar of the crowd as the “Challenge in the Hills”is played out every Memorial Day Weekend.


Slow Motion is the name of the seafoam green Ford Truck in the mud.

The brain child of members of the Tucker County 4 Wheelers, Inc., this event started in 1979 at Davis, and brings in racers from surrounding states as far away as Michigan and spectators  from other countries.  Membership in the club includes participants from all surrounding counties and states.  Of the original charter members, Tom and Sandy Hardy,  Phil Conrad, and Ted “Mush” Lambert are still active members.

Sandy Hardy recalls the first race she attended at the Alpine Festival in 1979.  She said, “The guys just fell in love with it and plans were immediately made to make it a permanent event.”   “After the flood of ’85, thirty acres of land became available that would allow the club to have a permanent race track and the event was moved across the river from Hambleton. Thirty-nine years later, this event is going strong and providing good family entertainment as well as a shot in the arm to the local economy.
“The annual Challenge in the Hills is a definite economic boost to the area.”  according to Nicole Propst, speaking on behalf of Jim’s All Star Foods. “This event is a definite boost to our sales and the whole economy in this area economy.   We get a tremendous amount of people stopping asking for directions to the event and they stop again on their way out.”
Tammy Carr spoke on all the definitive efforts that have been made  to remove the bad reputation that has, in the past, surrounded the “Challenge” racing weekend.    She said, “This is a family friendly and a safe event that you can bring your kids to.  The noise level is cut off at 11 o’clock  for the comfort of the campers.  Rowdiness is not be tolerated.  Cops are on call and those causing a fuss are immediately removed.”
Kennetha Greenlief said, “My two year old nephew will be attending with the family and we  all looking forward to the race.  Her father was an avid fan and sponsor of the event. This year was the third year for the annual Dick Kidwell Memorial Fastest Time Through the Mud Pit.  In honor of Dick, Kidwell Auto Parts Store provides the trophies and $500 prize money.
According to Tammy,  “Junior Drags were added to the Sunday morning line up, in an effort to teach the youngsters how to race and allow them to participate in the weekend event.  There were two divisions and  no charge.  This provided a tremendous amount of  family entertainment.
As a joint effort and fund raiser for the Challenge in the Hills, Stormy and Joe Meloy, as well as many other parents and volunteers, worked the ticket gate the entire weekend.   They used this service as a fundraiser to be able to send their children to the Special Olympics in Charleston.


39th Challenge in the Hills Race Results

Flat Drags
S-Class
1st Brent Conrad, TC4x4, Dryfork WV
2nd Tommy Simpson, TC4x4, Parsons WV
3rd Mark Porter,
4th Hunter Witt,

H-Class
1st Logan McKown,
2nd Allen Curtis

G-Class
1st Curt Hall
2nd Andrew Hebb, Parsons WV
3rd Tyler Hall

F-Class
1st Sandy Hardy, TC4x4, Hambleton WV
2nd Mike Simpson, TC4x4, Hambleton WV
3rd Tyler Hall,
4th John Delsignore, Weirton WV

E-Class
1st Brent Baldwin, Renick WV
2nd Craig Stalnaker,
3rd Donnie Groves,

D-Class
1st Randy Thornton, TC4x4, Bridgeport WV
2nd Mike Hardy, TC4x4, Parsons WV
3rd John Dotson, Ripley WV

C-Class
1st Steve Butcher, Weston WV
2nd Duane Poling, TC4x4, Thomas WV

A-Class
1st Tom Hardy, TC4x4, Hambleton WV

Top Eliminator – Brent Baldwin, Renick WV

Fastest Time 3.14 – Tom Hardy, TC4x4, Hambleton WV

Best Reaction Time .400 – John Dotson, Ripley WV

Women – Flat Drags
S- Class
1st Nancy Simpson, TC4x4, Parsons WV
2nd Suzanne Allen,
3rd Crystal Nutter, TC4x4, Hambleton WV

D-Class
1st Carol Rice, Avonmore PA
2nd Emily Dotson, Ripley WV

19th Annual Debi Lambert Top Eliminator – Carol Rice, Avonmore PA

Jr Drags
0-10 age group – 1st Dominic Delsignore, Weirton WV
11-15 age group – 1st Mark Jr. Phillips, Parsons WV

Top Eliminator – Mark Jr Phillips, Parsons WV

Mud Pit results
Big Outlaw class
1st Zack Frost, Frostburg MD
2nd Brandon Pennington, Parsons WV
3rd Derrick Wratchford, Petersburg WV
4th Ben Butler, Cameron WV

Little Outlaw class
1st Zack Frost, Frostburg MD
2nd Craig Stalnaker, Fairmont WV
3rd Tommy Simpson, TC4x4, Parsons WV

Cut Tire class
1st Zack Frost, Frostburg MD
2nd Justin McMillion, Leon WV
3rd Craig Stalnaker, Fairmont WV

Super Modified class
1st Corey Cumpston, Cameron WV
2nd Kevin Vanmeter, Mt Storm WV
3rd JD Hardesty, Grantsville WV

Modified class
1st Josh Simpson, TC4x4, Hambleton WV
2nd Daniele Wilfong, Parsons WV
3rd Dakota Moreland, Ridgeley WV

Super Stock class
1st Mike Simpson, TC4x4, Hambleton WV
2nd Nancy Simpson, TC4x4, Parsons WV
3rd Daniele Wilfong, Parsons WV

Street Stock class
1st Austin Moats, Parsons WV
2nd Cody Moats, Parsons WV

3rd Annual Dick Kidwell Memorial Fastest Time – Zack Frost, Frostburg MD – 3.51 seconds


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