Every year, the ATHS (American Truck Historical Society) hosts their big National Convention & Antique Truck Show in a different part of the country – this year’s event was held on May 30th through June 1st in Yakima, Washington at the Yakima Valley SunDome. Whenever this show is on the west coast (about every three years), we at 10-4 Magazine attend and exhibit. This event features all sorts of official ATHS meetings and banquets, tours of local attractions, a truck auction, vendors and exhibits, and, of course, the antique truck show. There is no competition, no trophies, and no awards of any kind – everyone just gets together and talks about the good-old days, their old trucks, and whatever else comes to mind.
After flying in to Seattle on Thursday morning and getting a car, we headed east across the state toward Yakima. Going over Snoqualmie Pass (on I-90) the temperature dropped to 40 degrees and it started to rain (what a surprise). We were just glad that it didn’t start snowing! Once we got over the hill, the clouds and rain disappeared and was replaced with beautiful, blue, sunny skies and warm temperatures in the 80s for the rest of the weekend. By the time we got to the show, our buddy Ron Pettijohn (Trucker Ron) and his wife Pam already had everything set up so we headed out to start taking pictures of the trucks – and with over 800 of them on-site, this would prove to be a big job.
The Yakima Valley SunDome grounds are huge, for sure, but it was not one or two large areas. Instead, it was broken up into fifteen or twenty smaller areas, some with grass and trees and others on pavement. Trying to park 800+ trucks in all of these different areas proved to be challenging, but the folks at the ATHS did a pretty good job of cramming everybody in. As we walked the grounds, we saw some amazing old iron and made a lot of new friends.
Some of the rigs that were getting a little extra attention included a 1927 Autocar owned by Dee Cameron that was driven – not trailered – to the show from Prescott, AZ. Apparently, this guy drives this really old truck to shows all over the country. Another popular attraction was Jim Oldland’s “Truck #18” – a turquoise-colored 1980 Peterbilt 359 he bought new, which was recently restored by Bill Abernethy, and looking absolutely flawless. A truck that everybody seemed to be talking about was a 1965 Kenworth 923 owned by the Shantz family of Maple Ridge, British Columbia (Canada). Painted metallic green and cream and featuring tons of custom fabrication, this “Canadian Kenworth” was turning heads all day long, every day.
Walking around the fairgrounds, we noticed several cool trucks, too, including Bill Latimer’s black and white A-Model, Mike McKay’s yellow and brown 1980 K-100 Aerodyne Kenworth, a neat 1933 dark blue Federal tanker, the rare General Motors’ “Futurliner” from the 1930s or 1940s, and a clean, bright green, 1955 Peterbilt cabover, set up as a west-coast-style lumber hauler, owned by Wayne Newhouse from San Jose, CA. A few other trucks that caught our eye included Jerry & Jake Koolhaas’ white and purple W900, Rick Mallorie’s dark blue Freightliner cabover with red stripes, Van Dyke’s latest Peterbilt cabover creation, which included a new two-tone paint job, and Pete DeBoer’s “Bubblenose” Peterbilt cattle hauler, painted in his signature silver and blue scheme. All of the pristine trucks brought out by our friends at Talley Transportation, Stan Alles, Dan Thomas and Ed Rocha were, like always, truck show favorites (trucks owned by all of these people have graced several of our covers in the past).
Over at our booth, under the bright red 10-4 party tent, our June 2013 cover trucker and trucking icon Harm Speerstra and his wife Thelma joined us to help out and answer questions. With his perfect 1979 Peterbilt 352-H cabover parked right next to our booth, Harm hung out and “talked truck” with the show attendees and participants that came by the booth every day – he even autographed a few of the centerfolds that feature his truck for the die-hard fans that came by. With a larger-than-expected turnout of attendees at this event, we ended up not bringing enough magazines, so we ran a little short every day, but, thankfully, we had enough posters and centerfolds to suffice.
After the show closed on Friday night, we headed out of town to attend a private party held at a local winery by Carl Carstens of Rockwood Products. Carl and a crew of photo professionals from Los Angeles came to Yakima not only for the show, but to shoot pictures for their 2014 truck calendar. After working hard all week, Carl hosted this “wrap-up party” at the winery to celebrate the completion of their photo shoots. And what an amazing night it turned out to be. With wonderful views of snow-capped Mt. Adams and Mt. Rainier in the distance, great food cooked right there in a wood-fired outdoor oven, wine and beer, and a perfect mix of truck owners, truck drivers and trucking industry professionals, it was a nice break away from the “truck show” craziness. Our thanks go out to Carl for inviting us to this fun event.
As mentioned before, this show usually has no competitions or awards, however, this year the ATHS added a NAST-sponsored (National Association of Show Trucks) truck show featuring late model (newer) trucks. There were not too many trucks back in that lot, but the few that were there were very impressive – especially the four local rigs from Northwestern Hauling out of Yakima. Their three dark blue Peterbilts (and one black one) were lookin’ totally dialed in! The winner of this NAST competition was a camouflage-themed KW called “Lead Sled” from Sweet Rides Logistics in Haugan, MT.
After everything was all said and done on Saturday, as the sun began to set, many of the attendees and participants headed across the street to Yakima Speedway for a fun night of truck racing, produced by Mike Gibbons of Rolling Thunder Big Rig Racing. Featuring about 10 custom-built race trucks, the paved half-mile oval track proved to be a great venue for not only the big rigs, but also some car racing, too. We at 10-4 were asked to take some pictures, so we spent the entire evening running around the infield, trying to capture those “perfect shots” of all the action. In addition to the racing, there was also a smoke show, a “shoving match” between two trucks, a parade of antique trucks from the show that went around the track during an intermission, and a lower class car race that turned out to be more of a demolition derby than a race. On this night, truck #76 took the checkered flag. The truck racing was a great way to finish off all the fun we had up in Yakima. For more information about future racing events, we encourage you to check them out online at www.gibbonsracing.com.
We would like to thank everyone who helped out in our booth and helped us get everything to the show – having Harm’s truck parked next to our booth proved to be a real crowd-pleaser. We had a great time hanging out and getting to know Harm and Thelma better, we always enjoy our time with the entire Callen family (several of their trucks have been on our past covers), and we even got to spend some quality time with our “Poetry in Motion” writer Trevor Hardwick and his wife Alicia, which is always nice. Special thanks go out to Trucker Ron and his wife Pam (Barney too) for all their help, for bringing the golf cart and everything else to the show, and for introducing us to Ron’s old friend and mentor Kel Belko from Alberta, Canada, who it was great getting to know.
Next year’s ATHS National Convention & Antique Truck Show is scheduled to be held in Springfield, MO at the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds on May 29-31, 2014. For more information about this and other ATHS events, visit www.aths.org today.