Q&A with 2016 Grand Champion Mendi Nelson
By on 12/07/2017
In 2016 Mendi Nelson made history with the first pull of the Saturday night 6,200LB 2WD Super Modified Truck finals, driving her truck Lil’ Whip to victory. Nelson is the second woman to win a Grand Champion title on the iconic track of the Championship Tractor Pull. The 2016 event was a record-breaking year for women, both with a record number of competitors and Nelson’s historic victory.
Q. What is it like to be the second woman to win Grand Champion at the Championship Tractor Pull?
A. It was a great feeling and neat to follow in Lisa Tatum’s footsteps. I met Lisa the year before and got to visit with her, she was always someone who inspired me, never did I think I’d be the second woman to win at the National Farm Machinery Show.
Q. What made your pull successful?
A. Being the first hook, we felt like we had a great opportunity to do well. The truck set up that we used worked great, even though it got pretty high and pulled me to the left. I was still able to out pull the other competitors in the class. It was very fortunate that the motor did not backfire until I was spinning out at the end of my pull.
Q. How did your family react to your win?
A. They were all extremely excited! My dad was very proud and excited that I drove the truck well.
Q. Have you made any changes to your truck for the 2017 season?
A. Yes, we made a cosmetic change by repainting the body and giving the truck a different look. My dad is also making a few minor changes to the chassis.
Q. Describe your first pulling experience for us?
A. My first experience driving was near my hometown in Columbus, Texas and I finished in second place. I was a senior in high school and I was extremely nervous because a lot of family and friends were there to watch. It was a great experience to have everyone come by after the show and congratulate me on my success.
Q. Your advice to aspiring tractor pull drivers?
A. The advice I would give to aspiring drivers would be to go to as many truck and tractor pulls as possible and talk to experienced drivers who have been involved in the sport for many years.
Q. Do you think the number of women competing will continue to increase each year?
A. Yes, because every year there seems to be more and more young girls and women who are getting involved in this sport.
Q. Anything else you want to share?
A. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share my experience with you and all the great fans who come out and support truck and tractor pulling. Hope to see you in Louisville.
Get your tickets for the upcoming Championship Tractor Pull here!