From their first show in Ontario, CA to this year’s show in Tulsa, OK on May 18-20, 2017, the Shell Rotella SuperRigs show has promoted and recognized a level of pride in the trucking industry for 35 years. If you haven’t heard of the show, you’ve probably heard of the Shell Rotella calendar. Bringing a truck to be judged at a truck show isn’t for the lazy, but the individuals and companies who take pride in their trucks and are willing to put in the time and effort it takes to get their rig noticed, don’t mind the extra work. As a show attendee, I am often mesmerized by the shine and detail of every show truck I’ve seen – whether at an actual truck show or on the most common circuit – the open road.
My first Shell Rotella SuperRigs show was last year (June 2016) in Joplin, MO. This was a whole new experience for me beyond my regular attendance at the Waupun Truck-N-Show (Wisconsin) and the Mid-America Trucking Show (Kentucky). That show not only grabbed my attention to become an annual attendee, but it opened my eyes to venture out to other shows I’ve yet to see. Fast forward a year and it has put me on the road to new adventures and, most recently, to Tulsa, OK for the 35th annual SuperRigs “Titans of Tulsa” event at the Exchange Center at Expo Square on the state fair grounds.
According to Dave Waterman, Shell Rotella N.A. Marketing Manager, Shell Rotella is now scouting venue locations on the east coast and west coast. The goal is to find three venues to rotate through going forward. The Exchange Center at Expo Square has proven to be a prime location and the hope is that it will be included in the eventual three rotating locations. When asked what made Shell Rotella decide to do a truck show in the beginning, it was said that it was a way for Shell Rotella to give back to the trucking community by creating a venue (the show) and a medium (the calendar) to showcase some of the trucks that push the limits of awesome. Their goal was to help inspire other truckers and show the community that these are great businessmen/women that care about what they do, and that trucking is not just a job, but a chosen profession.
I arrived in Tulsa after dark on Wednesday, May 17, in preparation to enjoy the entire show. It is all about location, and the grounds were thankfully well-suited for what Mother Nature had in store. 64 trucks preregistered for this year’s show, with an outcome of 70 in competition (numbers were down this year due to the predicted bad weather, which lived up to the hype).
Thursday morning, May 18, my get up and go had gotten up and went without me. My normal routine of being on the grounds when the sun came up just didn’t happen. But, even though I didn’t arrive onsite until after sunrise, the day didn’t disappoint, as the sun was shining bright and big puffy clouds scattered across the sky. Once I arrived, I found two very close friends of mine, who are all about their love of big trucks. Chris Fiffie of Big Rig Videos was already gathering footage while Evan Steger from Evan’s Detailing and Polishing was mingling and showing his support for the trucks (and friends who operate them) he had polished earlier that week for the show.
There were several trucks that came and left to load or unload, either before or after being judged, as this show has a “drive through” style of judging. Among those were Robby Zillmer and Kiegan Nelson of Jack C. Moss Trucking and Brad Garetson of Rollin Transport. A smile crossed my face at the number of rigs from my home state of Wisconsin, which included the three mentioned above, as well as Grant Alderman and his 2008 Pete 389, past 10-4 cover truckers Ken and Barb Fisher and their recently redone 1997 Pete 379, and Best of Show winner Bill Rethwisch and his 2016 Pete 389, driven by Kyle Beaton. Seriously, look at the winner’s list – there are a lot of Wisconsin-based trucks on there!
Along with the crowd favorites like People’s Choice award winner Grant Alderman and his 2008 “Milk Money” Peterbilt 389, there were a couple new unveilings, as well, including Darren Friedrichsen of White Trucking (Hader, NE) bringing in their Galaxy Blue 2018 Peterbilt 389 that hit the road working a few weeks prior to the show, and Tony and Beth Hylton of Ohio, who brought in their family-owned Kenworth that was purchased brand new by Tony’s father “KY” back in 1977. Tony spent countless hours preparing for this show, and his hard work paid off, as he and his family’s KW earned a spot in the 2018 Shell Rotella calendar.
Another 2018 calendar spot winner and Wiscosin-based outfit, Pete Transfer, brought in their lime green 2015 Peterbilt 389 pulling a 2016 MAC fertilizer tanker (Best Lights), driven by Justin Nodorft. This truck was unveiled last year at the Walcott Truckers Jamboree. Colton and Lauren Chase brought in their 2002 Pete 379 pulling a 2018 Timpte hopper, and were lookin’ good. Colton and Lauren are also 2/3 of the coordinators for the Midwest Truckfest held in Liberal, KS on August 26, 2017. This will be their 3rd year of having the show, with all of the proceeds going to a pre-designated charity. Check it out, if you can. Fleenor Bros. out of Carthage, MO brought in two trucks to the show – “Ace in the Hole” is a 2008 Kenworth W900L pulling a 2016 Great Dane spread-axle, driven by Sid Calangelo, that was unveiled last year at the Fitzgerald’s show in Crossville, TN, and “Bumble” is a 2016 25th Anniversary Icon 900 Kenworth driven by Brady Quade. Another eye-catcher was Lanita’s “Daddy’s Change” – a 2016 Kenworth W900, brought in by Andrew Good, which sports a C-15 under the hood and a 287-inch wheelbase. To say that there was some beautiful iron in the parking lot would be an understatement!
As beautiful as Thursday was, as predicted, the weather took a turn for the worst. Around 6:30 p.m., the parade and light show were canceled and the show utilized the indoor space on the grounds to park all the show trucks inside before the weather hit. Tony Justice took the stage that evening and Mother Nature brought in a storm. Hail, high winds, lightning and thunder, and a massive downpour was the outcome. The weather finally let up late in the night, so the trucks rolled back out of the building early the next morning. By late morning, the clouds let loose again and it rained on and off the rest of the day. The light show that was meant for Thursday was rescheduled for Friday evening. Even through the rain, there was a beautiful display of lights, that lit up the parking lot on that dreary night.
Saturday morning, May 20, was the last day of the show. I made my way to the grounds and was able to get more pictures, even though the sky was gray and no sun was visible. I caught my good friend and owner-operator Ingrid Brown as she rolled in with “Miss Faith” – her white and blue 2017 Peterbilt 389, with a curtainside trailer in tow. By mid-day, the gray sky went away, and in its wake came a sun-shiny, beautiful blue sky, along with those white puffy clouds that I love. I had the opportunity to visit with Ingrid and Dustin Ballard, who rolled into the show earlier in the week with the truck he drives for JRC Ranch. His rig is a classy 1995 Peterbilt 379 which is based out of Stigler, OK and pulls a 2016 Wilson Silver Star cattle trailer. As the afternoon turned to evening, I enjoyed a great dinner with a few longtime friends, and made a few new ones, as well, before settling in for the night.
Sunday morning was bittersweet. I couldn’t help but feel a little sad that both the show was over and I had to part from some wonderful friends who I don’t get to see often enough. I drove I-44 back to Missouri, recapping the show’s events in my mind, and remembering how much I enjoyed myself at SuperRigs – again! Going over what I learned, I’m excited to hear where next years’ show will be held, and look forward to attending. The “Titans of Tulsa” were definitely some of the best rigs our industry has to offer. And, as always, to all the truckers out there doing the deal, truck safe!
WORKING TRUCK LIMITED MILEAGE – 3 WINNERS IN NO ORDER: ($250) Brandon Avant of Hampton, AR – 2010 Peterbilt 379; ($250) Brady Quade of Pocahontas, IL – 2016 Kenworth W900L; ($250) Sid Calangelo of Carthage, MO – 2008 Kenworth W900 and 2017 Great Dane Dry Van.
SHOW TRUCK – 3 WINNERS IN NO ORDER: ($250) Jake Lindamood of Irving, TX – 2017 Peterbilt 389; ($250) Dave Van Haitsma of Zeeland, MI – 1995 Kenworth W900L and 2016 Utility Dry Van; ($250) Grant Alderman of Union Grove, WI – 2008 Peterbilt 389.
BEST ENGINE: Bill Rethwisch of Tomah, WI – 2016 Peterbilt 389.
BEST LIGHTS: Justin Nodorft/Brian Pete of Mineral Point, WI – 2015 Peterbilt 389 and 2017 MAC Tanker.
BEST CHROME: JR Schleuger of Britt, IA – 1980 Kenworth W900A.
BEST THEME: Jake Robak of Rice, MN – 2006 Peterbilt 379 Cottrel Car Carrier.
BEST INTERIOR: Bill Rethwisch of Tomah, WI – 2016 Peterbilt 389.
HARDEST WORKING TRUCKER: ($500) Hills Construction of Hempstead, TX – 2007 Freightliner Coronado.
PEOPLE’S CHOICE: ($250) Grant Alderman of Union Grove, WI – 2008 Pete 389.
CLASSIC: 1st ($1,500) Jayme and Whitney Snow of Berryville, AR – 1999 Freightliner Classic XL and 2015 Great Dane Van; 2nd ($1,000) Terry Aslinger of Marquand, MO – 1996 Peterbilt 379 and 2013 Shipshewana Trailer; 3rd ($750) Daniel and Phyllis Snow of Harrison, AR – 1996 Freightliner Classic XL; 4th ($500) Scott Graham of Wagoner, OK – 1999 Kenworth W900; 5th ($250) Joe Dean Davenport of Siloam Spring, AR – 1998 Kenworth W900L.
BOBTAIL: ($1,500) Ray and Suzie Rodriquez of Salinas, CA – 1999 Peterbilt 379; 2nd ($1,000) Robby Robinson of Lake City, FL – 2015 Kenworth T660; 3rd ($750) Jake Robak of Rice, MN – 2006 Peterbilt 379 Cottrel Car Carrier; 4th ($500) Jason Krause of Sutton, NE – 2017 Peterbilt 389; 5th ($250) Kenny Graber of Patridge, KS – 1998 Kenworth W900L.
COMBO: 1st ($1,500) Brad Garetson of Lake Mills, WI – 2016 Peterbilt 389 and 2017 MAC Conestoga; 2nd ($1,000) Kiegan Nelson of Onalaska, WI – 2013 Peterbilt 389 and 2016 Reitenour; 3rd ($750) Robbie Basse of Hinton, OK – 2016 Kenworth W900 Icon and 2016 Fortune Infinity; 4th ($500) Brian Dreher of Campbellsport, WI – 2016 Peterbilt 389 and 2016 Great Dane Reefer; 5th ($250) Colton Chase of Kismet, KS – 2002 Peterbilt 379 and 2018 Timpte Super Hopper.
BEST OF SHOW: ($10,000 from Shell, $5,000 from MAC Trailer, and a spot in the 2018 calendar) Bill Rethwisch of Tomah, WI – 2016 Peterbilt 389; 1st RUNNER UP: ($4,000 from Shell and $3,000 from MAC Trailer) JR Schleuger of Britt, IA – 1980 Kenworth W900A; 2nd RUNNER UP: ($2,000 from Shell and $2,000 from MAC Trailer) Ken Fisher of Muscoda, WI – 1997 Peterbilt 379 and 2015 Reitnouer.