Midwest Perfection

This year’s Top Gun Largecar Shootout in Rantoul, Illinois was the closest to “Midwest perfection” you can get.  With an amazing collection of new and classic older trucks, down-home friendly people, good grub, and the best weather we have ever experienced at this event, it could not have been better.  Held on July 28-30 at the Rantoul National Aviation Center a couple hours south of Chicago, this 10th annual event has always been a laid-back and fun show.  Created and produced by Tom and DaVeda Reitz, along with a stable of volunteers, these folks work tirelessly all year long to host a fantastic weekend that never disappoints.

Arriving in Indianapolis from California on Thursday afternoon, we experienced a few downpours on the two-hour drive west to Rantoul.  Hoping this was not a sign of the times to come, we pressed on through the rain, along with many of the truck show participants.  By Thursday evening the rain had stopped, however it left behind the typical Midwest humidity.  But, by Friday morning, much of that humidity was gone, thanks to a cool weather front that was beginning to move through the area.  Friday was the day most of the rigs rolled in, so much of that afternoon was about parking and cleaning trucks.  We spent most of that day running around and taking pictures, because nothing beats those Midwest clouds!

After the sun set on Friday evening, the trucks turned on their lights and took a slow parade lap through town.  Lining the streets along the route, Rantoul locals and their families sat on the ground or in folding chairs and enjoyed the free Friday night light show.  Once everyone got back to the show grounds and parked, it was time to relax a bit with friends and then get some much-needed rest in preparation for Saturday’s festivities.

Walking out of the hotel around 8:00 a.m. on Saturday morning to head over to the show, we were welcomed with the most amazing weather – it was in the 60s with a cool breeze – and NO humidity!  Throughout the day the temp increased, peaking at about 80 degrees, but with clear sunny skies and no moisture in the air, it was a picture-perfect day.  And with friends and vendors on-site like Lincoln Chrome, RoadWorks, Hogebuilt, Diesel Life, Iowa Customs, I-65 Chrome Shop and several others, there was plenty to see and do.  A DJ played music for most of the day while we strolled around and talked to people and took all our pictures.

Saturday afternoon was jam-packed with activities.  Starting with a kiddie pedal pull around 1:00 p.m., tons of determined kids grunted and groaned their pedal cars (which were actually little farm tractors) across the paved parking lot pulling a weighted sled.  Later that day, a Jake Brake contest was held, as many of the trucks in the show took turns at making the most noise possible as they passed under a sound level meter mounted at the end of a stick.  Once that competition ended, I-65 brought out their black “Tornado” rig for a burnout exhibition – which promptly caught on fire and had to be extinguished.  It was not a very long exhibition, but it was an exciting one, nonetheless!  Once the day’s activities came to an end and the sun went down, the trucks went into night-time glow mode for the light show and competition, which went on late into the night.

With about 170 trucks parked at the former Chanute Air Force Base, which was closed in 1993, there was no shortage of good stuff, for sure.  In addition to the many newer rigs, there were a lot of neat classic cabovers (like the green one from Kuhnle Brothers), several Peterbilt 359s, and plenty of clean A-Model Kenworths, as well.  Kenny Grove even brought out two amazing GMCs.  Tom Noe’s brown 1972 Pete and matching reefer, which he purchased brand new, was one of our favorite old rigs in attendance.  Many of these classic rigs came in their old work clothes, but some of them had been redone and highly customized, like Eric Holthaus’ black and white 1985 Pete 359, which took several awards, including Best of Show Working Bobtail, and Hank Robey’s red and black 1963 Peterbilt 351, which earned top honors in the Limited Miles Bobtail Interior class, along with a few other trophies.

Some of the other big winners included Joel Anker (his magenta-colored heavy-haul Kenworth was awarded Best of Show Limited Miles Bobtail); John Jaikes and Kim Grimm (their purple 1999 Kenworth and matching Utility reefer took several awards, including Best of Show Working Combo); and Jack and Jay Hawthorne of C & J Trucking (several of their rigs won trophies, including one that got Best of Show Limited Miles Combo).  A new “Over-The-Top” class was introduced this year, and Mike Manuel, with his Autism Awareness-themed dark blue Peterbilt 389 combination, complete with its custom-made “puzzle piece” wheels, and Bob Harley and his super-cool 1972 Peterbilt 358A bobtail, took home the big hardware.

Some other trucks that were turning heads included an orange and maroon 2016 Kenworth, with a matching Westmor bottle, from Dabney Trucking, Bryan Lempkie’s nice lime green and black Peterbilt combination, and a very very metallic brown Peterbilt 389 combination owned by Jack Moss Trucking.  In addition to his “Bad Attitude” show truck, Bob Harley also brought out a new Peterbilt 389 that was looking top-notch, as well.  Another one of our favorites was a metallic green and black 2000 Peterbilt 379 owned by Derek Graham of WJ Transit – this truck just had a perfect stance!

We would like to thank Tom and DaVeda for all the hard work they put into this event.  Tom is fighting some pretty serious health issues right now but, at the awards ceremony, he vowed – “God willing” – they will do it all again next year.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to Tom for a speedy and complete recovery – keep fighting the good fight!  We look forward to seeing you, and everyone else, next year at this awesome show, and hope to get more of that “Midwest perfection” we were so lucky to get this year.

WORKING BOBTAIL (2016-2018): 1st Brady Quade, Pocahontas, IL – 2016 Kenworth ICON 900; 2nd Justin Burnett, Buckley, IL – 2016 Peterbilt 389; 3rd Dave Marti, Forrest, IL – 2017 Peterbilt 389.

WORKING BOBTAIL (2011-2015): 1st Dennis Borth, Galesburg, IL – 2015 Volvo 780; 2nd Dave Marti, Forrest, IL – 2015 Peterbilt 389; 3rd Richie Foster, Pittsburgh, PA – 2014 Peterbilt 389.

WORKING BOBTAIL (2005-2010): 1st Brian Rudisell/Kuhnle, Newbury, OH – 2005 KW W900L; 2nd Justin Congdon, Davenport, IA – 2005 Pete 379; 3rd Bill Carrigan/Colby Fruhling, Georgetown, IL – 2009 Pete 389.

WORKING BOBTAIL (2000-2004): 1st Aaron Spiniolas,/Ridge Crest Trucking, Harvard, IL – 2001 Peterbilt 379; 2nd Wayne Baker, Taylor Ridge, IL – 2002 Peterbilt 379; 3rd Barney Coomes, Monroe City, IN – 2000 Peterbilt 379.

WORKING BOBTAIL (1992-1999): 1st Randy Victory, Jonesboro, AR – 1999 Pete 379; 2nd Murl Nolder/Kim Kuhnle, Windham, OH – 1994 KW K100; 3rd Larry Reynolds/Wishall, Melvin, IL – 1996 Peterbilt 379.

WORKING BOBTAIL (1991-OLDER): 1st Eric Holthaus, Seneca, KS – 1985 Peterbilt 359; 2nd Austin Roach, Jacksonville, IL – 1979 Kenworth W900A; 3rd Jerry Metzger, Huntington, IN – 1980 Peterbilt 359.

WORKING BOBTAIL (LIGHTS): 1st Dave Marti, Forrest, IL – 2015 Peterbilt 389; 2nd Dave Marti, Forrest, IL – 2017 Peterbilt 389; 3rd Brian Rudisell/Kuhnle, Newbury, OH – 2005 Kenworth W900L.

WORKING BOBTAIL (INTERIOR): 1st Eric Holthaus, Seneca, KS – 1985 Peterbilt 359; 2nd Aaron Spiniolas/Ridge Crest Trucking, Harvard, IL – 2001 Peterbilt 379; 3rd Brady Quade/KC Cousins, Pocahontas, IL – 2016 Kenworth ICON 900.

LIMITED MILES BOBTAIL: 1st Joel Anker, Dyer, IN – 2018 Kenworth W900L; 2nd Bob Harley, Burbank, OH – 2016 Peterbilt 389; 3rd Rob Schmitt/Larry Schmitt, Minonk, IL – 1978 Peterbilt 352.

LIMITED MILES BOBTAIL (LIGHTS): 1st Joel Anker, Dyer, IN – 2018 Kenworth W900L; 2nd Bob Harley, Burbank, OH – 2016 Peterbilt 389; 3rd Hank Robey, Russiaville, IN – 1963 Peterbilt 351.

LIMITED MILES BOBTAIL (INTERIOR): 1st Hank Robey, Russiaville, IN – 1963 Peterbilt 351; 2nd Bob Harley, Burbank, OH – 2016 Peterbilt 389; 3rd Troy Pentland, Indianapolis, IN – 1941 ALF 500.

WORKING COMBO (2016-2018): 1st Jack Hawthorne, Grand Mound, IA – 2016 Peterbilt 389 & 2016 Reitnouer; 2nd Mike Hug/Jack Moss, Germantown, WI – 2018 Peterbilt 389 & 2016 Reitnouer; 3rd Jeremy Mattingly/Dabney Trucking, Minier, IL – 2016 Kenworth ICON 900 & 2017 Westmor.

WORKING COMBO (2011-2015): 1st Kiegan Nelson/Jack Moss, Onalaska, WI – 2013 Pete 389 & 2016 Reitnouer; 2nd Brian Rozivka, Lannon, WI – 2013 Pete 389 & 2013 Reitnouer; 3rd Aaron Bode, Bainbridge, IN – 2014 Pete 389 & 2017 Jet.

WORKING COMBO (2005-2010): 1st Jerry Linander, Winona, MN – 2007 Kenworth W900L & 2014 Great Dane; 2nd Craig DeReu, Mineral, IL – 2007 Kenworth W900 & 2013 Wilson; 3rd Cory Haines/Steve Welch, Champaign, IL – 2007 Peterbilt 379 & 1996 Timpte.

WORKING COMBO (2000-2004): 1st Derek Graham, Carlinville, IL – 2000 Peterbilt 379 & 2012 Wilson; 2nd Steve Vermillion/Dane Hartman, Gifford, IL – 2002 Peterbilt 379 & 2016 Timpte; 3rd John Grovenor/Kaufman Transport, Cissna Park, IL – 2002 Kenworth & 2017 Brenner.

WORKING COMBO (1991-1999): 1st John Jaikes/Kim Grimm, Nanticoke, PA – 1999 KW 900L & 2005 Utility; 2nd David Marcotte, Momence, IL – 1992 Pete 379 & 1978 Heil; 3rd Matt Bauer/Bauer Farms, Cissna Park, IL – 1998 Peterbilt 379 & 2012 Wilson.

WORKING COMBO (1990-OLDER): 1st Jason Markley, Farina, IL – 1981 Kenworth W900A & 2011 Reitnouer; 2nd Gebhart Enterprises, Neoga, IL – 1986 Pete 359 & 2006 MAC; 3rd Brandon Shaffer, Springfield, IL – 1971 Peterbilt & 2000 Ravens.

WORKING COMBO (LIGHTS): 1st Zach Miles/Herman Trkg, Hoopeston, IL – 1983 Kenworth K100 & 2016 Wilson; 2nd John Jaikes/Kim Grimm, Nanticoke, PA – 1999 Kenworth 900L & 2005 Utility; 3rd Jack Hawthorne/Jay Hawthorne, Grand Mound, IA – 2016 Pete 389 & 2016 Reitnouer.

WORKING COMBO (INTERIOR): 1st Rick Wann/Jason Markley, Farina, IL – 2005 Peterbilt 379 & 2006 Reitnouer; 2nd Kiegan Nelson/Jack Moss, Onalaska, WI – 2013 Peterbilt 389 & 2016 Reitnouer; 3rd John Jaikes/Kim Grimm, Nanticoke, PA – 1999 Kenworth 900L & 2005 Utility.

LIMITED MILES COMBO: 1st Guthrie Waechtsa/Jay Hawthorne, Grand Mound, IA – 2007 Peterbilt 379 & 2016 Reitnouer.

LIMITED MILES COMBO (LIGHTS): 1st Guthrie Waechtsa/Jay Hawthorne, Grand Mound, IA – 2007 Peterbilt 379 & 2016 Reitnouer.

LIMITED MILES COMBO (INTERIOR): 1st Guthrie Waechtsa/Jay Hawthorne, Grand Mound, IA – 2007 Peterbilt 379 & 2016 Reitnouer.

OVER-THE-TOP LIMITED BOBTAIL: 1st Bob Harley, Burbank, OH – 1972 Peterbilt 358A; 2nd Paul Marcotte, Momence, IL – 1998 Peterbilt 379; 3rd Scott Lynch/Bulldog Enterprises, Witt, IL – 1998 Mack CH613.

OVER-THE-TOP LIMITED BOBTAIL (LIGHTS): 1st Bill Schlueter, Rantoul, IL – 1996 Kenworth W900; 2nd Bob Harley, Burbank, OH – 1972 Peterbilt 358A; 3rd Scott Lynch/Bulldog Enterprises, Witt, IL – 1998 Mack CH613.

OVER-THE-TOP LIMITED BOBTAIL (INTERIOR): 1st Bob Harley, Burbank, OH – 1972 Peterbilt 358A; 2nd Bill Schlueter, Rantoul, IL – 1996 Kenworth W900; 3rd Scott Lynch/Bulldog Enterprises, Witt, IL – 1998 Mack CH613.

OVER-THE-TOP LIMITED COMBO: 1st Mike Manuel, Front Royal, VA – 2015 Peterbilt 389 & 2017 MAC; 2nd Jay Hawthorne, Grand Mound, IA – 2015 Peterbilt 389 & 2015 Wabash.

OVER-THE-TOP LIMITED COMBO (LIGHTS): 1st Mike Manuel, Front Royal, VA – 2015 Peterbilt 389 & 2017 MAC; 2nd Jay Hawthorne, Grand Mound, IA – 2015 Peterbilt 389 & 2015 Wabash.

OVER-THE-TOP LIMITED COMBO (INTERIOR): 1st Mike Manuel, Front Royal, VA – 2015 Peterbilt 389 & 2017 MAC; 2nd Jay Hawthorne, Grand Mound, IA – 2015 Peterbilt 389 & 2015 Wabash.

BEST OF SHOW WORKING BOBTAIL: Eric Holthaus, Seneca, KS – 1985 Pete 359.

BEST OF SHOW LIMITED MILES BOBTAIL: Joel Anker, Dyer, IN – 2018 Kenworth W900L.

BEST OF SHOW WORKING COMBO: John Jaikes/Kim Grimm, Nanticoke, PA – 1999 Kenworth 900L & 2005 Utility.

BEST OF SHOW LIMITED MILES COMBO: Guthrie Waechtsa/Jay Hawthorne, Grand Mound, IA – 2007 Peterbilt 379 & 2016 Reitnouer.

BEST OF SHOW OVER-THE-TOP LIMITED BOBTAIL: Bob Harley, Burbank, OH – 1972 Peterbilt 358A.

BEST OF SHOW OVER-THE-TOP LIMITED COMBO: Mike Manuel, Front Royal, VA – 2015 Pete 389 & 2017 MAC.

PEOPLE’S CHOICE: Brian Rudisell/Kuhnle, Newbury, OH – 2005 Kenworth W900L.

TRUCKS CHOSEN TO BE FEATURED ON 2018 EVENT SHIRT: Eric Holthaus’ 1985 Pete 359 and Aaron Bode’s 2014 Pete 389.

About Daniel J. Linss - Editor

Daniel J. Linss has been with 10-4 Magazine since the beginning in September of 1993, and has been the Editor and Art Director since March of 1994. Over the years, he has also become one of the main photographers for 10-4 and is well-known for his insightful cover feature articles and honest show reports. Married for over 20 years with three children, Daniel operates a marketing and production company (Daniel Designs) which produces 10-4 Magazine each and every month from his office in Squaw Valley, CA.