Every year in March, for the past 46 years, the trucking industry has come together at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, KY to celebrate the everyday heroes that make up the trucking industry. If it has something to do with trucks, truckers or trucking, it will be at MATS. Held on March 23-25 at the Kentucky Expo Center, this event featured over 1,000 exhibitors, stretched out over 1.1 million square feet, and over 70,000 attendees. Outside, the Paul K. Young Truck Beauty Championship hosted 100 of the finest rigs from across the country, competing for trophies and bragging rights.
This year’s event got off to an interesting start when President Trump flew into Louisville on Monday for a campaign-style rally on the show grounds (in Freedom Hall). Competitors who had arrived early and were on the lot cleaning their trucks, got to see Air Force 1 fly right over their heads. Later, after the rally ended, the parking lot was put on lock-down as the president and his motorcade made their way out of the expo center. You don’t see stuff like that every day!
Flying in on Tuesday, we at 10-4 brought John Testa, our new Social Media Manager, along with us. Being a former truck driver who once graced our cover in 2003 with his slick Peterbilt transfer, John understands trucking more than most social media people, for sure. During the show, he walked the floor and did live interviews with some of our friends and advertisers.
On Wednesday, it was time to set-up our booth and get to work. Once that task was done, we headed outside to brave the cold and take pictures of the trucks with their lights on, as the judging for the light show portion of the truck beauty contest got off to an early start. As you can see in some of the pictures, there were some very impressive lighting displays out there.
The first day of the show is typically a little slow, but this was one of the busiest Thursdays we can remember! Thanks to our booth helpers Jed & Shelley Debardeleben, Rudy & Carmen Rudisell and Josh & Renee Rietveld, the rest of us were able to get out and do some moving around. After the show closed on Thursday, we took a group of friends, advertisers, contributors and past cover truckers to Texas Roadhouse for a great dinner, and with 25 of us in the room, you can bet it was a fun and wild night.
Our booth was in the North Wing, which was packed with exhibitors and bustling with activity. Having heard that most of the manufacturers were returning, after taking a one-year hiatus, we were surprised that not all of them came back. Peterbilt and Kenworth were there on full display while Mack and Western Star had somewhat abbreviated booths, but Freightliner, Volvo and International were nowhere to be found, which made the usually-awesome South Wing a little quieter than normal. The West Wing, like always, was a mad-house. But for us, the fun is always outside – with the show trucks – and although rain was predicted for almost every day of the show, very little actually fell. In fact, it was some of the best weather we had seen in years!
Come Saturday morning, it was time to hand out the awards. After a few tributes and memorials, some videos were played (including one by Rockwood showing how the trophies were made), several prizes were given out by various sponsors, and then the winners were announced. Then, thousands of copies of a commemorative “Championship Report” were passed out to all in attendance. This book had all the competitors, along with pictures of their trucks, and is put together and printed during the show. Our hats go off to Lindsay Anhalt for making it look so good – and for getting it all done in time.
This year’s “Best of Show” winners were a mix of old favorites, along with some new rides. Our friend and past cover trucker Bob Harley not only bagged the Best of Show Limited Mileage Bobtail award with his 1972 Peterbilt 358A, but he also got Best Engine, Best Paint and Best Interior. Other returning favorites included Sid Calangelo of Fleenor Bros. and their “Ace in the Hole” KW (Best of Show Limited Mileage Combo), along with Jon Donadio and his mint green KW (Best of Show Working Dump). A newly-built rig that did very well was brought out by Aaron Spiniolas of Ridge Crest Trucking in Harvard, IL. Aaron’s cream and maroon “Cream of the Crop” 2001 Peterbilt 379 not only took Best of Show Working Bobtail, but it also took a 2nd place and three other 1st place trophies, too.
The biggest shocker was when the very last trophy was handed out for People’s Choice. It had been a long ceremony, and Billy Powell of Suburban Towing in Louisville figured he’d get a head start and beat the crowds out, leaving just before that final winner was called. When they called his name, someone stuck their head out the door and called him back. Talk about a shocker – Billy was shocked! He ran in and grabbed the trophy, then almost dropped it. It was a memorable moment, for him and for all of us in the room, for sure.
Some of the other big winners included Bill Warner Jr. and his maroon and cream 1987 Peterbilt 359 and 2010 MAC dump trailer, Eric Turner Sr. and his blue and black “Show Time” 2015 Peterbilt 389 and Wally-Mo car carrier, and Steph and Jake Robak’s “End of Watch” tribute truck (a 2006 Peterbilt) in honor of fallen police officers (see full story on page 36). The latest rig from J & L Contracting, a red 2008 Kenworth W900L with white stripes, brought out by Dustin Shipman, took a couple trophies, but it deserved a whole lot more – it was amazing! Colton Chase and his black and marbleized gray 2002 Pete and Timpte hopper were lookin’ top-notch, as was Jason Krause and his baby blue with white stripes “Flashback” 2015 Peterbilt 389 (the interior on this thing was dialed-in).
A truck that really stood out for me was Lifetime Nut Cover’s white Kenworth A-model with blue stripes, which was just on display. Featuring a painted and polished Cummins KTA 600 under the hood and a classic diamond-tuck interior, done in white and blue by Travis Baxley of Two Bee’s Upholstery, this thing was a show-stopper. One more truck that surprisingly caught my eye was the new black 2017 Freightliner Cascadia Evolution and matching 2017 Utility trailer owned by Zeller Transportation. Probably not a crowd favorite, amidst all the cool “hood” trucks, but for a Freightliner aero rig, it looked really slick!
After the show closed on Saturday, there was one more order of business before heading home – the “Lights After MATS” cruise. Organized by Big Rig Video’s Chris Fiffie to capture videos of the trucks rolling around the expo center, Chris plans to make and post a video of the event soon. Nobody wanted the show to end, but as the sun began to set and the rain finally began to fall, it was time to call it quits. Another MATS was in the books and, once again, it did not disappoint. Next year’s show is set for March 22-24, 2018. Put it on your calendar now, because the year will go by in a flash! We hope to see you there!!
WORKING BOBTAIL (1991-2004): 1st Justin Mosser, 2004 Peterbilt 379; 2nd Aaron Spiniolas, 2001 Peterbilt 379 EXHD; 3rd Jay Holsomback, 1996 Kenworth W900L.
WORKING BOBTAIL (2005-NEWER): 1st Stephanie Robak, 2006 Peterbilt 379; 2nd Brady Quade, 2016 Kenworth W900L; 3rd Marty Martin, 2016 Western Star 5700XE.
NEW TRUCK (BOBTAIL): 1st Al Rooks, 2016 Peterbilt 389; 2nd Kris Ringland, 2017 Kenworth W900; 3rd Don Di Giovanni, 2017 Peterbilt 389.
LIMITED MILEAGE BOBTAIL: 1st Bob Harley, 1972 Peterbilt 358A; 2nd Casey Conrey, 1991 Mack RD688; 3rd Nick Rosenberger, 2016 Kenworth W900L.
WORKING COMBO (1993-2010): 1st Ethan Young, 2010 Kenworth T660 and 2014 MAC; 2nd Bruce Bumgarner, 2010 Kenworth W900L and 2016 Wilson; 3rd John Jaikes III, 1999 Kenworth W900L and 2006 Utility.
WORKING COMBO (2011-NEWER): 1st Eric Turner Sr, 2015 Peterbilt 389 and 2016 Wally-Mo car carrier; 2nd Ryan Etchberger, 2016 Peterbilt 389 and 2015 Polar; 3rd Ricky Dean Nesbitt, 2016 Peterbilt 389 and 2016 Great Dane.
NEW TRUCK (COMBO): 1st Jake Kopeschka, 2017 Peterbilt 389 and 2013 MAC; 2nd Chad Smith, 2016 Peterbilt 389 and 2017 East; 3rd Bruce Christian, 2017 Freightliner Cascadia Evolution and 2018 Utility.
LIMITED MILEAGE COMBO: 1st Sid Calangelo, 2008 Kenworth W900L and 2017 Great Dane; 2nd Dustin Shipman, 2008 Kenworth W900L and 2016 Transcraft; 3rd Brad Sweet, 2007 Peterbilt 379 and 2016 MAC.
WORKING DUMP COMBO: 1st Jon Donadio, 1996 Kenworth W900 and 2017 East; 2nd Colton Chase, 2002 Peterbilt 379 and 2018 Timpte; 3rd Brandon Smith, 1996 Peterbilt 379 EXHD and 2016 MAC.
LIMITED MILEAGE DUMP COMBO: 1st Bill Warner Jr, 1987 Peterbilt 359 and 2010 MAC; 2nd Brian Davis, 1999 Kenworth W900L and 2015 Wilson; 3rd Brent Repp, 2006 Peterbilt 379 EXHD and 2016 MAC.
ANTIQUE (ORIGINAL): 1st Greg Jenkins, 1974 Peterbilt 352; 2nd Tanner Timblin, 1987 Peterbilt 359; 3rd Larry R. Vogel, 1986 GMC General.
ANTIQUE (CUSTOM): 1st Charlene Testerman, 1983 Peterbilt 359; 2nd TJ Timblin, 1982 Peterbilt 362; 3rd David McKinney, 1986 Peterbilt 359.
FIRST SHOW: 1st Jason Krause, 2015 Peterbilt 389; 2nd Robert Glass, 2007 Peterbilt 379; 3rd Brandon Avant, 2011 Peterbilt 389.
WORKING INTERIOR (CAB ONLY): 1st Eric Turner Sr, 2015 Peterbilt 389 and 2016 Wally-Mo car carrier; 2nd Stephanie Robak, 2006 Peterbilt 379; 3rd Justin Mosser, 2004 Peterbilt 379.
WORKING INTERIOR (OEM CAB & SLEEPER): 1st Aaron Spiniolas, 2001 Peterbilt 379 EXHD; 2nd Jay Holsomback, 1996 Kenworth W900L; 3rd Brady Quade, 2016 Kenworth W900L.
WORKING INTERIOR (AFTERMARKET): 1st Charlene Testerman, 1983 Peterbilt 359; 2nd Colton Chase, 2002 Peterbilt 379 and 2018 Timpte hopper; 3rd Kris Ringland, 2017 Kenworth W900.
LIMITED MILEAGE INTERIOR: Bob Harley, 1972 Peterbilt 358A.
ENGINE (WORKING): 1st Aaron Spiniolas, 2001 Peterbilt 379 EXHD; 2nd Kris Ringland, 2017 Kenworth W900; 3rd Billy Gibbs, 2000 Kenworth W900L.
ENGINE (LIMITED MILEAGE): Bob Harley, 1972 Peterbilt 358A.
PAINT (WORKING BOBTAIL): 1st Aaron Spiniolas, 2001 Peterbilt 379 EXHD; 2nd Billy Gibbs, 2000 Kenworth W900L; 3rd Tanner Timblin, 1987 Peterbilt 359.
PAINT (WORKING COMBO): 1st Jon Donadio, 1996 Kenworth W900 and 2017 East; 2nd Colton Chase, 2002 Peterbilt 379 and 2018 Timpte hopper; 3rd Jake Kopeschka, 2017 Peterbilt 389 and 2013 MAC.
PAINT (LIMITED MILEAGE BOBTAIL): Bob Harley, 1972 Peterbilt 358A.
PAINT (LIMITED MILEAGE COMBO): Dustin Shipman, 2008 Kenworth W900L and 2016 Transcraft.
LIGHTS (WORKING BOBTAIL): 1st Stephanie Robak, 2006 Peterbilt 379; 2nd Jason Krause, 2015 Peterbilt 389; 3rd Troy Huddleston, 1991 Freightliner FLC.
LIGHTS (WORKING COMBO): 1st Bruce Bumgarner, 2010 Kenworth W900L and 2016 Wilson livestock trailer; 2nd Eric Turner Sr, 2015 Peterbilt 389 and 2016 Wally-Mo car carrier; 3rd John Jaikes III, 1999 Kenworth W900L and 2006 Utility 3000R.
LIGHTS (LIMITED MILEAGE BOBTAIL): Mario Bergeron, 1999 Peterbilt 379.
LIGHTS (LIMITED MILEAGE COMBO): Brent Repp, 2006 Peterbilt 379 EXHD and 2016 MAC.
ROADWORKS “BEST USE OF CHROME” (BOBTAIL): Grant Alderman, 2008 Pete 389.
ROADWORKS “BEST USE OF CHROME” (COMBO): Bill Warner Jr, 1987 Peterbilt 359 and 2010 MAC.
ROCKWOOD PRODUCTS “RUNNIN’ LATE” AWARD: Aaron Spiniolas, 2001 Peterbilt 379 EXHD.
JAKE EILEN MEMORIAL AWARD: Jason Krause, 2015 Peterbilt 389.
BEST PETERBILT AWARDS: 1st Brandon Avant, 2011 Peterbilt 389; 2nd Colton Chase, 2002 Peterbilt 379 and 2018 Timpte hopper; 3rd Grant Alderman, 2008 Peterbilt 389.
BEST OF SHOW (WORKING BOBTAIL): Aaron Spiniolas, 2001 Peterbilt 379 EXHD.
BEST OF SHOW (WORKING COMBO): Eric Turner Sr, 2015 Peterbilt 389 and 2016 Wally-Mo car carrier.
PEOPLE’S CHOICE: Billy Powell, 1993 Peterbilt 362 and 2012 Trial-Eze.