You never know what to expect with the weather at the Mid-America Trucking Show held in Louisville, KY each March, but this year it was downright looney, prompting many to start calling it Looneyville!  Who knew you’d need to include a snow shovel as one of your necessary items for MATS, but this year, you did.  From rain to snow to sun, and then back to rain, this year’s 47th annual MATS had it all.  But, amidst all the adverse conditions outside, it was yet again another fantastic event for all the trucking industry inside, as over 1,000 exhibitors filled the halls of the Kentucky Expo Center for the 8th consecutive year in a row.

As the largest annual event in trucking and the official kick-off to the 2018 truck show season, this year’s MATS, held on March 22-24, once again brought the entire industry together, including over 71,000 attendees from all 50 states and 61 countries.  This year’s event hosted a remarkable 1,008 exhibiting companies representing all major product categories in heavy-duty trucking, with a significant focus on the rapid evolution of technology and the many changes coming to the industry.  Minus a few major OEMs who do not attend the event every year, including International, Freightliner, Volvo and Western Star, everyone was there.

Arriving late Tuesday afternoon, the rain was already coming down.  By the time we got our rental car and got checked-in at our hotel, the snow was beginning to fall.  Keep in mind, most of the trucks taking part in the Paul K. Young Truck Beauty Championships outside the show had already been (or were in the process of being) staged, parked and cleaned, so this was not going to be good for them.  We have seen plenty of little snow flurries over the years at MATS, but nothing prepared us for what we awoke to Wednesday morning – a full-blown snowstorm!  By the time it was all said and done later that day, about eight inches of snow had fallen, and the show trucks were covered.

On Wednesday, as the competitors scrambled to clean off their trucks, tragedy struck when one of the participants, Kenneth Stinson of Huntsville, Indiana, fell off the top his hopper trailer as he attempted to remove the snow.  Sadly, he did not survive.  The 57-year-old was a driver for GF&S Transport and had been for the past eight years.  In over 20 years of attending truck shows, this was the first time something like this has ever happened, and it was a shock to everyone.  In silent honor of its fallen driver, Ken’s black 2017 Kenworth W900 daycab and 2018 Timpte hopper remained parked at the show and on-display for the next few days.

By the time Wednesday night came, much of the snow in the truck show lot had either melted or been shoveled into piles, allowing the light show to take place – but it was cold out there (in the low 30s).  Bringing along our Social Media Manager John Testa again this year, along with a production assistant named Adam Frick, the two began their “Live from Louisville” remotes and sponsored segments during the light show.  These well-produced segments were a big hit all weekend and allowed people who were not at the show to still feel like they were a part of it.  We would like to thank all our business partners and friends who participated in and sponsored these remotes.

Come Thursday morning, the snow was mostly gone, and the skies were blue.  It was still cold outside, but nothing as compared to the day before.  Once the show officially opened, we were busy all day in our booth in the North Wing, handing out free magazines and posters, answering questions, taking subscriptions and selling our latest t-shirt, which made its debut at MATS and featured a lit-up truck at night and a Super Moon, along with the tagline “10-4 Magazine… Shining Bright Since 1993!”  It is hard to believe, but we (10-4 Magazine) will be celebrating our 25th anniversary later this year in September.  After the show closed on Thursday, we all headed over to the Texas Roadhouse with 24 of our friends and family members for our annual MATS dinner celebration and, as always, it was a wildly fun time.

Friday was a beautiful day to be outside, but after taking more pictures of the trucks, we headed back to walk around the booths, talk to the vendors, and participate in some of the more exciting happenings going on inside.  Women In Trucking, in association with Arrow Truck Sales and other sponsors, gave Tiffany Hanna, a professional driver and trainer at Prime, a 2014 Volvo VNL670, along with a long list of products and services worth in total over $75,000, for her essay on the importance of attracting more women into the trucking industry.

Directly across from our booth, our friends at Belmor announced that U.S. Army veteran Larry J. Berman was the winner of their 2nd annual “I Did My Duty… Now I Drive Heavy Duty” contest.  In addition to the special recognition, Larry, now a driver for US Xpress, received a free trip for two to MATS along with a $1,500 product gift certificate.  Goodyear also handed-out their annual “Highway Hero” award to Frank Vieira of Ancaster, Ontario (Canada), for his roadside heroics at an accident scene, but the best award was given by Peterbilt when they announced that Rick McClerkin of San Jose, California was the winner of their SuperFan search and presented him with the keys of Peterbilt’s one millionth truck – a bright red Model 567 Heritage.  Some of you might know Rick as our friend who put on the big 75th Anniversary Peterbilt show a few years back in Stockton, CA.  Way to go, Rick!

Although some of the OEMs mentioned before were not at the show, Mack, Peterbilt and Kenworth were there in full-force with incredible displays.  Peterbilt, among other things, was promoting its new UltraLoft sleeper for the Model 579 truck, which has maximized space and comfort inside, and Kenworth had a wide array of configurations and models on display, along with a cool orange and white heavy-duty wrecker.  Mack debuted their new Anthem tractor, which redefines the “aerodynamic” look, and targets the owner-operator segment.  With a bold design, tough engineering and a comfortable interior, the Anthem, with its unmistakable Mack styling with a twist, was built around the needs of the driver.

Throughout the day, there were plenty of seminars on current hot topics like ELDs, the Hours of Service regulations, glider kits, self-driving trucks, business matters and more.  Richard Petty made an appearance in the Mack booth, signing autographs and meeting fans, alongside one of his legendary #43 race cars.  Friday night, after the show closed, there was a free concert sponsored by Mobil Delvac featuring Kellie Pickler.  The concert was held on-site at Freedom Hall and was packed with fans.  A few hours before the concert began, Kellie slipped out to a table in front of Freedom Hall and signed autographs and posed for pictures, too!

Saturday morning came in a flash, and with it came more rain – lots of it.  In fact, it pretty much rained all day, making it a good day to stay inside altogether.  But it was also time to hand out all the awards.  This year was a little different because Bud Farquhar, who runs the PKY truck beauty competition outside, was absent.  His lifelong wife (over 60 years) passed away just a few days before the show, so Bud left the event in the capable hands of his crew – and they did a great job.  Our condolences go out to Bud and his entire family.  The awards began with the reading of a written statement from Bud, and then it was on to handing out the trophies.

The winning trucks were an equal mix of familiar names and newcomers.  Some of the veterans included Jonathan Eilen, who swept almost every top honor in the Limited Mileage Bobtail classes with his “Hustler” hot rod Peterbilt, and Theresa DeSantis, our past cover trucker, who once again took the big trophy home in the Working Combo class with her stellar red 1985 Peterbilt 359 with orange stripes, which she has owned and run three million miles since it was brand new, and 2016 East flatbed with a curtain.  This was her second “Best of Show” at MATS.

In the Limited Mileage Dump Combo class Jon Donadio, another veteran, and his two-tone mint green 2019 KW W900 and polished 2019 East dump trailer, once again earned the gold medal (this is the third year in a row that Jon has earned a Best of Show at MATS – and with three different trucks)!

A few lesser-known names (at least to me) that earned top spots included Steve Smith and his blue 2016 Peterbilt 389 with black flames and polished and painted 2016 Trout River paving trailer, which took home the Working Dump Combo Best of Show trophy, Joe Hertel and his blue with black stripes 2018 Kenworth W900 and 2019 MAC flatbed with a curtain, which won the Limited Mileage Combo Best of Show award, and David McKinney and his clean blue 1994 Peterbilt 379, which earned the coveted People’s Choice trophy.

Other trucks that did well included Dave Baker’s (Fleenor Bros.) “The Duke” cream, orange and brown 2016 Kenworth (Working Bobtail Best of Show), Phil Knowlan’s purple and orange 1994 Peterbilt 379 (two 1st Place trophies), Josh Gentry’s two-tone blue 2018 Peterbilt 389 and matching 2018 Timpte Super Hopper (the Jake Eilen Memorial Award), and Rob Sund’s gray, silver and magenta 2018 Peterbilt 389 car carrier (Best New Truck Bobtail).

Of course, there were a lot of standout rigs that did not earn many trophies, but they sure turned a lot of heads.  Some of these trucks include Jim Henderson’s gray and blue 2006 Kenworth W900L (recently built by our friend and past cover trucker Dustin Dickerson), Dalton Bontrager’s two-tone green 1984 Peterbilt 359 (one of my personal favorites at the show), a purple and white 2017 W900L owned by Chris Hamilton of Tralo, and Mark Hollen’s amazing maroon, gold and black 2013 Peterbilt 389, which was customized to look exactly like a vintage 359, including a Corvette dash inside.

There was plenty of 10-4 Magazine representation at MATS, too, with five past cover trucks on the lot, including the one that won Working Combo Best of Show (June 2014), Kaleb Hammett’s gray and red heavy-haul Peterbilt (February 2018), John Jaike’s purple KW combo (January 2018), James Gasper’s blue Peterbilt 389 (July 2017), and Kary Bryce’s “Color of Money” green Peterbilt Legacy (March 2018).  There were a few inside, in booths, as well!

As the day wound down and the show ended, it was all over before we knew it.  We would like to thank the folks who helped run our booth, including Jim Stolz, Marion Stolz, Josh and Renee Rietveld, Terry Thomas and Jed DeBardeleben.  Also, thanks to Frank Strohmyer for helping to make sure we got plenty of photographs and such, and “Team 10-4” members John Testa, Adam Frick, Jean Osugi and Shannon Linss for all their added help and support, as well.

The 2018 Mid-America Trucking Show was one for the books, and it certainly earned the title “Looneyville” in regard to the weather.  But hey, that’s Louisville!  Next year’s event is scheduled for March 28-30, 2019.  Mark your calendars now, because you won’t want to miss this show!!  For more information about the event, check them out at www.truckingshow.com.  And this year’s winners were:

WORKING BOBTAIL: 1st Dave Baker, 2016 Kenworth W900L; 2nd Allen Rooks, 2016 Peterbilt 389; 3rd Jim Henderson, 2006 Kenworth W900L.

WORKING COMBO: 1st Eric Turner Sr., 2015 Peterbilt 389 and 2018 Wally-Mo car carrier; 2nd Theresa DeSantis, 1985 Peterbilt 359 and 2016 East Beast; 3rd Brian Pete, 2015 Peterbilt 389 and 2017 MAC

NEW TRUCK BOBTAIL: 1st Rob Sund, 2018 Peterbilt 389; 2nd Christopher Hamilton, 2017 Kenworth W900L; 3rd Israel Turner, 2017 Peterbilt 389.

FIRST SHOW BOBTAIL: 1st David Corley, 2000 Peterbilt 379; 2nd Matthew Mounsey, 2016 Peterbilt 389; 3rd Scott Kline, 2018 Kenworth W900L.

FIRST SHOW COMBO: 1st Chad Cooper, 1996 Peterbilt 379 and 2016 Reitnouer; 2nd Andrew Adkins, 2018 Peterbilt 389 and 2018 Landoll; 3rd Pam Cox, 2016 Peterbilt 389 and 2018 Wilson.

ANTIQUE (ORIGINAL): 1st William Hall, 1974 Peterbilt 352; 2nd Dalton Bontrager, 1984 Peterbit 359; 3rd Greg Jenkins, 1986 Kenworth K100E.

ANTIQUE (CUSTOM): 1st Peter Norton, 1988 Kenworth K100; 2nd Andrew Bradway, 1986 Peterbilt 359; 3rd Nate Mason, 1987 Peterbilt 359.

WORKING DUMP COMBO: 1st Steven Smith, 2016 Peterbilt 389; 2nd Chad Smith, 2017 Kenworth W900L; 3rd Justin Divitto, 2013 Peterbilt 389.

WRECKER: 1st Bill Warner Jr., 1997 Peterbilt 379; 2nd Jason Jeffus, 2000 Peterbilt 379; 3rd Scott Huddleston, 2018 Kenworth.

COMPANY COMBO: 1st Bradley Sweet, 2007 Peterbilt 379 and 2017 MAC; 2nd Zach Pletcher, 2015 Peterbilt 389 and 2015 MAC; 3rd Barry Kasdorf, 2015 Peterbilt 389 and 2010 Brenner Tanker.

WORKING INTERIOR (CAB ONLY): 1st Brian Pete, 2015 Peterbilt 389 and 2017 MAC; 2nd Jay Blackbourn, 2016 Peterbilt 389 and 2018 MAC; 3rd Eric Turner Sr., 2015 Peterbilt 389 and 2018 Wally-Mo car carrier.

WORKING INTERIOR (OEM CAB & SLEEPER): 1st Theresa DeSantis, 1985 Peterbilt 359 and 2016 East Beast; 2nd Dave Baker, 2016 Kenworth W900L; 3rd Terry Aslinger, 1996 Peterbilt 379.

WORKING INTERIOR (CUSTOM): 1st Phil Knowlan, 1994 Peterbilt 379; 2nd Daniel Snow, 1996 Freightliner Classic XL.

WORKING ENGINE: 1st Theresa DeSantis, 1985 Peterbilt 359 and 2016 East Beast; 2nd Eric Turner Sr., 2015 Peterbilt 389 and 2018 Wally-Mo car carrier; 3rd Brian Dreher, 2016 Peterbilt 389 and 2016 Great Dane.

WORKING BOBTAIL (PAINT/GRAPHICS): 1st Peter Norton, 1988 Kenworth K100; 2nd Jim Henderson, 2006 Kenworth W900L, 3rd Greg Jenkins, 1986 Kenworth K100E.

WORKING COMBO (PAINT/GRAPHICS): 1st Theresa DeSantis, 1985 Peterbilt 359 and 2016 East Beast; 2nd Eric Turner Sr., 2015 Peterbilt 389 and 2018 Wally-Mo car carrier; 3rd Robbie Basse, 2016 Kenworth W900 Icon and 2016 Fontaine.

WORKING BOBTAIL (LIGHTS): 1st Phil Knowlan, 1994 Peterbilt 379; 2nd Billy Gibbs, 2000 Kenworth W900L; 3rd Dill McKinney, 2016 Peterbilt 389.

WORKING COMBO (LIGHTS): 1st Eric Turner Sr., 2015 Peterbilt 389 and 2018 Wally-Mo car carrier; 2nd Andrew Adkins, 2018 Peterbilt 389 and 2018 Landoll; 3rd Chad Cooper, 1996 Peterbilt 379 and 2016 Reitnouer.

WRECKER (LIGHTS): 1st Bill Warner Jr., 1997 Peterbilt 379; 2nd Jason Jeffus, 2000 Peterbilt 379; 3rd John Allen, 2012 Peterbilt 389.

LIMITED MILEAGE BOBTAIL: 1st Jonathan Eilen, 1990 Peterbilt 379; 2nd Brandon Avant, 2010 Peterbilt 389; 3rd Ray Thompson, 2000 Peterbilt 379.

LIMITED MILES COMBO: 1st Joe Hertel, 2018 Kenworth W900 and 2019 MAC; 2nd Tim Blair, 1987 Peterbilt 359 and 2017 Tremcar Vacuum; 3rd Kaleb Hammett, 2017 Peterbilt 389 and 2015 Trail King.

LIMITED MILES DUMP COMBO: 1st Jonathan Donadio, 2019 Kenworth W900 and 2019 East Dump; 2nd Josh Gentry, 2018 Peterbilt 389 and 2018 Timpte Hopper; 3rd Greg Vanderwal, 1980 International 4070B and 2018 East 8-Axle Dump.

LIMITED MILES (BEST INTERIOR): Jonathan Eilen, 1990 Peterbilt 379.

LIMITED MILES (BEST ENGINE): Jonathan Eilen, 1990 Peterbilt 379.

LIMITED MILES BOBTAIL (BEST PAINT/GRAPHICS): Jonathan Eilen, 1990 Peterbilt 379.

LIMITED MILES COMBO (BEST PAINT/GRAPHICS): Jonathan Donadio, 2019 Kenworth and 2019 East.

LIMITED MILES BOBTAIL (BEST LIGHTS): Randy Manning, 2018 Kenworth W900L.

LIMITED MILES COMBO (BEST LIGHTS): Jonathan Donadio, 2019 Kenworth W900 and 2019 East Dump.

BEST RAT ROD: Danny Autullo, 1993 Peterbilt 379.

ROADWORKS’ BEST USE OF CHROME AWARD (BOBTAIL): Randy Manning, 2018 Kenworth W900L.

ROADWORKS’ BEST USE OF CHROME AWARD (COMBO): John T. Barker III, 1997 Peterbilt 379 and 1996 Streamliner Horse Trailer.

ROCKWOOD’S RUNNIN’ LATE AWARD: Maya Pyskaty, 1997 Peterbilt 379.

JAKE EILEN “PRIDE IN YOUR RIDE” MEMORIAL AWARD: Josh Gentry, 2018 Peterbilt 389 and 2018 Timpte Super Hopper.

BEST OF SHOW WORKING BOBTAIL: Dave Baker, 2016 Kenworth W900L.

BEST OF SHOW WORKING COMBO: Theresa DeSantis, 1985 Peterbilt 359 and 2016 East Beast.

PEOPLE’S CHOICE: David McKinney, 1994 Peterbilt 379.

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 25 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.