Maple Grove is a racing complex in Mohnton, PA, and home to one of the coolest shows on the East Coast – the Keystone Diesel Nationals. Held on Saturday, July 22, 2017, this 5th annual show featured a truck beauty contest and big rig drag races. I was always told about this fun event, and this year, I finally got to go. Bringing out our purple KW and winning some trophies, well, that was just the icing on the cake!
This event is held at Maple Grove Raceway, located outside of Reading in Mohnton, PA. It was opened in 1962 as a 1/5-mile drag strip, and eventually lengthened to its current quarter-mile length in 1964. When the people at the raceway wanted to have a truck show, they decided to partner up with Randy Kaylor. Randy has been racing for 36 years and has truck show experience, too, after serving on the board of the National Association of Show Trucks for five years, so it made sense to get him involved in getting this show set up, and keeping it growing. Randy gives a lot of credit to the 30 or so volunteers who help him for making the show go, and a special thank you to Randy Brown and John Dorff, who are the lead judges, and have been since the beginning.
The gates opened at noon on Friday (July 21), and we got there not long after they opened. It was very hot and humid. After my boyfriend John got the truck parked, I went off to check out the grounds. I met up with Randy and he introduced me to Katie Johnson of KJ Photography. She had a golf cart and was kind enough to take me for a ride around to see the trucks that were already there. The last time I’d been in a place like this was in Topeka, KS at Heartland Park in 2000 when, after the truck show that had been held there, several of us got to drag our trucks. I was really hoping to do that again – maybe next year!
Our friend Charlene Testerman rolled into the show with her “Rolling Thunder” 1983 Peterbilt, which still looks as amazing as ever. I then chatted with Jeff Brom, who had two beautiful old Peterbilts at the show – his orange one had a deck plate, along with other accents inside, that were painted to look like wood. It really made you look twice, to see that it wasn’t real wood. And then there was this old KW that had just been driven from Arizona to Pennsylvania. Not a show truck, for sure, but I thought it had lots of character – I still love the old trucks. In honor of his recent passing, Sal C’s truck was supposed to be there, but when it couldn’t make it, they convinced Steve Ford to go home and get his “Firebird” cabover.
A tent was set up with a TV to play a slide show of some photos from my dear departed friend, Bette Garber. Thanks to John with the T Mobile truck who helped us get the slideshow to work. Next year, we will have more material to display and, hopefully, people will see a truck they drove that Bette shot. There will be more details about this in the “10-4 Photo Contest” follow-up story later this year, as we continue to try to digitize all of Bette’s old film photos.
After a couple of really nice days, the rain finally came – but at least it held off until awards time, near the end of the show. The wind started blowing so hard it actually blew trophies off the table, as the rain came down in buckets. I wish I would have got a photo of the people who came to the awards under two pop-up canopies. There were about 10 or 15 people under each one, carrying it along with them as they walked! Talk about a big umbrella!! It was a good night to be wearing sandals and just get wet feet, instead of soggy shoes or soaked boots. There was even a little pond that formed outside the main tent, which made for a great place to take some cool reflection pictures.
Next year, to let everyone have more fun, and not make everyone hang around their truck all day waiting for judges, they are looking at simplifying the event and handing out just a few big awards, instead of a bunch of specific classes. However, the numerous stainless steel trophies they handed out this year were awesome! Made by Pro Fab, these works of art, adorned with a chrome swan on top, were as heavy as they were beautiful. And, I am proud to say, our KW earned one of those fancy trophies by winning Best of Show Combo, along with a few others, including the “King of Chrome” award. The winner for the Best of Show Straight Truck was Brett Bettler and his 2018 Peterbilt, while Best of Show Bobtail went to Al Emanuel for his cool 2017 Peterbilt.
Technically, this is a one-day show, but there are a lot of people that come on Friday, like we did, so they plan to start scheduling more activities on Friday next year – like maybe a barbecue, along with a light show and parade on the track. A big thank you to all the sponsors who help make this show possible, including Denver Truck Painting, Kenworth of PA, Garden Spot Frame and Alignment, A.J. Blosenski, Trans Master Trailers, 4-State Trucks, Hunter Peterbilt, Trik Trux by Pro Fab, and a bunch more.
Next year, the show will be held on July 21, 2018. Make plans now to attend and join in the fun! You can go to the Keystone Diesel Nationals page on Facebook and see more great pictures and videos from this year’s event. And the winners were…
NON-WORKING BOBTAIL: 1st Charlene Testerman, 1983 Peterbilt; 2nd Jeff Brom, 1972 Peterbilt; 3rd Jeff Brom, 1966 Peterbilt.
NON-WORKING COMBO: 1st Paul Reinbold, 1985 Kenworth; 2nd Scott Sheller, 1947 Mack.
WORKING BOBTAIL (DAYCAB): 1st Arnoldo Rodriguez, 2010 Mack; 2nd Tim Van Pelt, 1993 Peterbilt; 3rd Joe Palka, 2016 Peterbilt.
WORKING BOBTAIL (SLEEPER): 1st Larry Van Landingham, 1996 Peterbilt; 2nd Andrew Bradwam, 1986 Peterbilt; 3rd Al Emanual, 2017 Peterbilt.
STRAIGHT TRUCK: 1st Shawn Weaver, 2007 Kenworth; 2nd Bob Daus, 2003 Peterbilt; 3rd ACR Products, 2012 Freightliner.
STRAIGHT TRUCK (TANKER): 1st Eric Leber, 2000 Peterbilt; 2nd Andrew Shive, 2006 Peterbilt; 3rd Pat Reilly, 2010 Kenworth.
STRAIGHT TRUCK (FLATBED): 1st Anthony DePaul, 2016 Kenworth; 2nd J.P. Evans/Blosenski, 2012 Peterbilt; 3rd Mike Shipman/Blosenski, 2016 Peterbilt.
STRAIGHT TRUCK (DUMP): 1st Brett Bettler, 2018 Peterbilt; 2nd J. Mastrocola Hauling, 1996 Peterbilt; 3rd Bryan Lambert, 2017 Peterbilt.
STRAIGHT TRUCK (TRASH): 1st Joe Kagelman, 2015 Freightliner; 2nd Paul Riley, 2015 Peterbilt; 3rd Harry Evans/Blosenski, 2004 Mack.
STRAIGHT TRUCK (TOW): 1st Ken’s Towing, 2015 Kenworth; 2nd ASAP Services, 2012 Peterbilt; 3rd T & D Towing, 2013 Freightliner.
STRAIGHT TRUCK (SPECIALTY): 1st Ken Dahlen, 2005 GMC; 2nd Carl Zimmerman, 1948 Autocar.
WORKING COMBO (VAN): 1st John Jaikes & Kim Grimm, 1999 Kenworth; 2nd Harvey Drunes, 2015 Peterbilt; 3rd CRM Transport, 1987 Peterbilt.
WORKING COMBO (TANKER): 1st Don Richardson, 2012 Peterbilt; 2nd Richard Seeman, 2002 Peterbilt; 3rd Ed Smith, 2007 Peterbilt.
WORKING COMBO (AG): 1st Robin McCardell, 2007 Peterbilt; 2nd Sean Lawthorne, 2016 Freightliner; 3rd Rick Schlosberg, 1994 Peterbilt.
WORKING COMBO (SPECIALTY): 1st Matt Kanagy, 2006 Peterbilt; 2nd Curtis Ciccotelli, 2002 Kenworth; 3rd Andrew Bradway, 2015 Peterbilt.
WORKING COMBO (CAR HAULER): 1st Kyle Wilson, 2015 Peterbilt; 2nd Mike Samoro/Larick, 2016 Peterbilt; 3rd Charles Radford, 2017 Western Star.
WORKING COMBO (DUMP): 1st Michael McCavley, 2010 Peterbilt; 2nd Venezia, 1955 Mack.
WORKING COMBO (BULL RACK): 1st Kristopher Bair, 1979 Kenworth.
BEST FLEET: A.J. Blosenski.
BEST ENGINE: Dave Fazio.
BEST INTERIOR: John Jaikes & Kim Grimm.
BEST PAINT: Bill Morris.
LONG-HAULER AWARD: CRM Transport.
TREND-SETTER AWARD: Brett Bettler.
AMERICAN TRUCKER AWARD: Shawn Hinkson.
LIVIN’ THE LOW LIFE AWARD: Matt Kanagy
JUST FOR SHOW AWARD: Sterling Shelley.
GOT WHEELBASE AWARD: Jeff Blom.
KING OF CHROME AWARD: John Jaikes & Kim Grimm.
BACKYARD BUILD AWARD: Joel Martin.
OLDER THAN DIRT AWARD: Scott Sheller.