In this study, a dynamic finite element model is developed for pulley belt-drive systems. The belt is modeled using truss elements, while the pulleys are modeled using rotating circular constraints, for which the driver pulley’s angular velocity is prescribed. Frictional contact between the pulleys and the belt is modeled using a penalty formulation with frictional contact governed by a Coulomb-like tri-linear friction law. The dynamic response of the drive is then studied by incorporating the model into an explicit finite element code, which can maintain time-accuracy for arbitrarily large rotations and for long simulation times. The finite element solution is validated through comparison to an exact analytical solution of a steadily-rotating, two-pulley drive. Several response quantities are compared, including the normal and tangential (friction) force distributions between the pulleys and the belt, the driven pulley angular velocity, and the belt span tensions. Excellent agreement is found.