Casual But Competitive!

By Frank Strohmyer

The second annual “Semi Casual Truck Show” was held in Thunder Valley at Bristol Dragway in Bristol, TN on May 4-5, 2018. Being a competitor-judged show, this event is pretty “casual” like the name implies. But with about 50 top-notch rigs on the lot, there was still plenty to see and do – and plenty of competition, too. The first day of the show (Friday) is open to truck show participants and vendors only, while Saturday is open to the public and packed full of events for the entire day.

The gates opened at 10 a.m. with a $10 admission fee. The scheduled events that took place on Saturday included a stunt show, truck drag racing, raffle-prize giveaways, the awards ceremony, a night-time concert featuring Foghat and then a fireworks display, to end the event. Like I said, there was a lot to see and do.

With a threat of some thunder storms on Saturday, rain loomed in the forecast all day. After arriving in Bristol and getting checked in at my hotel, I headed over to Thunder Valley and started taking pictures of the trucks. There were plenty of familiar faces, and some new ones, as well. As I was taking my photos, I occasionally glanced over to the drag strip to watch a couple trucks go screaming down the track.

From the time I walked into the gate until the drag racing was over, there was one truck, a 1,000-hp Detroit-powered 1997 Peterbilt 379 owned and driven by Rickie Fenwick, that kept catching my eyes (and ears). Rickie spent the whole afternoon drag racing his tan-colored rig. Turning in some impressive reaction times, his quarter-mile speeds weren’t too shabby, either, getting very close to 100 mph! The truck is his bread-and-butter, and he works it every day to support his business and family. I believe he was the winner of the drag racing event.

The rain finally came around 5 p.m. but I was able to get a lot of photos and watch some of the events scheduled for that afternoon. Just before the rain came, Jesse Toler and Rowdy Rodney Sargent put on a motorcycle stunt show featuring café-style bikes and a drifting car. Making a lot of smoke, the stunts were amazing to watch. Both of these guys have videos on YouTube – the favorite one I watched was called “Back Roads” – go online and check it out!

Even with the late-afternoon sprinkles, Fitzgerald Glider Kits, the producers of the show, managed to put on a very good event. They were up against Mother Nature, but the show continued. After some nice raffle prizes were given away, the awards were announced. As stated before, this was a competitor-judged show, and there were no specific classes.

The Top 10 finishers were: 1) Eric Turner and his blue and black 2015 Peterbilt 389 car hauler; 2) Tom Davis and his black and red 2018 Peterbilt 389 and 2016 Wilson trailer; 3) Brian Davis and his green 2018 Pete 389; 4) Randy Menkel and his black 2013 Peterbilt 389; 5) Rick Shrout and his 2017 Peterbilt 389; 6) Bob Harley and his maroon 2016 Peterbilt 389; 7) Israel Turner and his yellow 1979 Peterbilt 359; 8) Billy Rethwisch and his green and white 2013 Peterbilt 389 gas hauler; 9) Billy Rethwisch and his yellow and white 2017 Peterbilt 389; and 10) Billy Zirkle and his 2014 Peterbilt 389.

After the awards were announced, it was time for the concert! These days, the band Foghat consists of their original drummer, Roger Earl, Craig Huhn on rhythm guitar (formerly with Ted Nugent), Bryan Bassett on guitar (formerly of Wild Cherry), and Rodney O’Quinn on bass. After playing most of their hits and rockin’ the house for quite some time, they closed the show with their signature song – Slow Ride. Once the concert ended, the fireworks display began, and then everyone headed back to their vehicles amidst rain and thunder in Thunder Valley – what an ironic end to an otherwise fabulous day!

With plenty of trucks to look at and watch go down the track, this was a great show. And I didn’t leave empty handed, either. The folks from Pai Industries and Fitzgerald were walking through the crowd at the concert and giving away t-shirts, rubber blinking bouncing balls, and small bags that contained a mouse pad and a pair of cool cheap sunglasses. If you are thinking about putting this show on your “to-do list” for next year, I would highly recommend it! You won’t be disappointed.

About Guest Author