The 2017 Guilty By Association Truck Show (GBATS) was a true team effort. To pull off a show of this size and magnitude took a dedicated team of over 125 full-time employees and a host of volunteers, as well as help from attendees and participants, alike. It seemed that everyone was willing to lend a hand when needed, and “Bossman” Bryan Martin couldn’t have been happier about it, saying, “It sounds corny, but this show would have never happened if not for the tireless efforts and passion of everyone involved. It was truly a team effort!” This 9th annual show, which started as one-day customer appreciation event with 38 trucks held on a Thursday, has grown into a full-on two-day weekend event, jam-packed with activities, and over 500 trucks!
Held on September 22-23, 2017 at the massive 4 State Trucks facility in Joplin, MO, this event featured 38 vendors, 510 trucks, big rig burnout exhibitions, a kid’s pedal pull, shop tours, a parts and accessories swap meet, a lumberjack competition, a truck and tractor pull, and a 422-truck convoy (which raised $115,000 for the Special Olympics) that culminated in downtown Joplin with a giant street party, concert and light show. Where else can you do all of that and not spend a dime? That’s right, everything at this event is free – even entering your truck in the competition. The only people who pay for anything all weekend are the locals and general public that pay to sit in the stands and attend the truck pull (show competitors and vendors get in for free).
Our trip started early, as we arrived late Wednesday night in Joplin. Thursday was spent setting up our booth and scouting some locations for a photo shoot we had planned on Sunday, after the show ended. Thursday night featured the VIP dinner and pre-party which has always kicked off this show.
Catered by Red Hot & Blue, the dinner for 400 included pork ribs, chicken, cheesy potatoes, macaroni salad, green beans and a roll. Dessert, which featured chocolate brownies and ice cream, was provided by us at 10-4 Magazine, while Diesel Freak and Dynaflex provided the drinks. After the meal, everyone went outside for a fun race, sponsored by Fleenor Bros., that featured two bicycles, attached side-by-side, with the steering reversed (the handlebars on the left controlled the wheel on the right, and when they turned left the wheel went right and vice-versa). Bryan thinks the “boyz” actually made this one a little too hard, as everyone really struggled to get through the make-shift obstacle course. But, it was fun to watch!
The show officially began on Friday, and let me tell you – it was miserably hot and humid! With temps in the mid-90s and high humidity, it was not comfortable to be outside. But we, and everyone else, dealt with it best we could, and didn’t let it ruin our weekend. Friday featured the big rig burnouts, among other activities, and then culminated with the truck and tractor pull that night. Before the pull began, the Larry H. Martin Memorial Award was presented to Harry Kilgore of Mansfield, MO for his lifelong dedication to cattle hauling and his tireless work ethic. Next up was Dave Weatherhead and his Timberworks Lumberjack Show, which took the stage and pitted Dave against another lumberjack in various skills contests including chainsaw cutting, hand sawing, tree climbing, log rolling, wood chopping and axe throwing, in a fast-paced and fun exhibition.
Produced by Lucas Oil and sponsored entirely by OOIDA, the truck pull featured custom pickups, pulling tractors, working rigs and an “Unlimited” class. The four-hour event was loud and exciting and, with over 3,000 people in the stands, the place was filled to capacity. This year’s “announcer’s stand” was a few outdoor folding chairs and an umbrella on top of a shipping container. After the last truck roared down the track, there was a fireworks display, featuring over 1,000 shots, put together by Jerry Kissinger, and sponsored by Peterbilt of Joplin.
After a short amount of sleep, Saturday was upon us. This day, like the previous, featured several events, including a kid’s pedal pull contest and more big rig burnouts. Around noon, two special guests made their way onto the property and created quite a stir. Driving a black and gold Pontiac Trans-Am
and a rust-colored Pontiac LeMans police car, two Smokey and the Bandit character impersonators, Bufford T. Justice and Burt “Bandit” Reynolds, came out to shake hands and pose for pictures. These two guys were pretty good, and everyone loved them.
As the afternoon began to wind down, a few trophies were handed out. Three choices were made by the competitors themselves (sponsored by Zephyr Polish) – Best of Show Bobtail, which went to J & L Contracting’s “Never Satisfied” red and white Kenworth; Best of Show Combo, which went to Brad Aldridge and First Class Services for their latest creation (a two-tone green and white Peterbilt 359 with a matching polished and painted pneumatic trailer); and Best Rat Rod, which went to Charlie Pacheco and Team Cutters Rat Rods for their highly-modified 1941 International, which they drove, along with three other rat rods, all the way from New Mexico. A People’s Choice award, sponsored by Diesel Freak, and voted on by the public through the first-ever GBATS app, went to Dewayne Pendley and his yellow 2015 Pete 389. Lastly, the “Spirit of GBATS” award was presented by the Martin family to the group of folks responsible for the big rig burnouts.
This year’s convoy, which is held to raise money for the local chapters of the Special Olympics, featured 422 trucks (up a bit from last year’s record of 403) that convoyed from the show to downtown Joplin. With almost 12 blocks of trucks parked along Joplin’s Main Street and on all the cross-streets, this street party is downtown Joplin’s single largest event of the year. The streets were packed with thousands of people who came to marvel at the trucks and enjoy a free concert by Rich McCready. At 11:00 p.m. on Saturday night, the show officially came to an end.
To say there were cool trucks at this show would be an understatement. To try and highlight a few “special” ones would be kinda pointless, as there were just too many to mention. Everywhere you looked was a row of trucks, and when you turned the corner, there were two or three more packed rows. Unfortunately, due to the sheer numbers, the rigs had to be parked very close to each other, making it challenging to take pictures. Make no mistake, we got good shots, but to say we were able to shoot them all, well that just wasn’t really possible. So, if we didn’t get a good one of your truck, we’re sorry – but we probably tried.
We would like to thank our friend and past cover trucker Albert Guzman, along with his brother-in-law Oscar and friends Steve and Scott, for not only bringing our stuff out to the show from California, but for also helping us in our booth and throughout the weekend. We couldn’t have done it without you (and it wouldn’t have been as fun), so thank you. Also, thanks to everyone who took the time to come by our booth, and to those who had nice things to say about the magazine. We truly appreciate your kind words, continued support and infectious enthusiasm.
Next year’s event will celebrate not only the 10th anniversary of GBATS, but also the 25th anniversary of 10-4 Magazine and the 45th anniversary of OOIDA, so you can bet a bunch of special things will be happening, so don’t miss it! Dates for the 2018 event are scheduled for September 28-29, so mark your calendar now. Congratulations to Bryan Martin and the entire 4 State Team for putting on another fantastic event! We are already looking forward to next year.