As “BossMan” Bryan Martin at 4 State Trucks put it, “GBATS 2011 was off the charts,” and we could not agree more. The Guilty By Association Truck Show (GBATS), hosted by the Chrome Shop Mafia and 4 State Trucks (the Martin family) in Joplin, Missouri, is always an amazing show but this year’s event was the best one yet. We don’t know how they’ll top this event next year, but we are sure they will find a way to do it.
One of the things that makes GBATS unique is that there are no entry fees whatsoever, and once you get there, they take care of you like you were a family member visiting from out-of-town. They feed you, entertain you, give you free stuff, and just make your time spent there awesome.
The fun began on Thursday night, before the show officially opened, with a free VIP dinner for all of the truckers and vendors on-site. The meal consisted of steak, pork, chicken, potatoes, salad, bread, green beans and more, all topped off with an “ice cream feed” sponsored by and served by us at 10-4 Magazine. After the meal, some amusing trivia games were played and then everybody went outside for some wild tricycle races (Kent Carpenter from Valley Chrome Plating beat everybody, including me).
Once the show got started early Friday morning, it was non-stop action until it closed on Saturday night (there was a lot to see and do at this event). Friday featured a chili cook-off with four local fire departments (the crew from the Peoria, Oklahoma Volunteer Fire Department took 1st place), there was a driving competition (Wayne Baker beat them all and won a $500 gift card from Merritt), there were guided tours of the entire 4 State facility, a Q & A session with the guys from PDI, and the chrome store was open for business, offering special deals and discounts throughout the event. Several vendors were there as well, promoting their products. As the day came to a close, most of the 185 trucks in attendance turned on their lights and provided an incredible light display. After that, 10-4 gave away a couple “10-4 Bucks” ($104) and then “Sarah Dunn and the Sundown” took the stage as bonfires were set to keep everyone warm.
As busy as Friday was, Saturday had even more activities planned. The day started out with an amazing donation from the folks that run the Big Iron Classic every year in Kasson, Minnesota. Jim Finn and his entire staff brought a 25’ trailer filled with thousands of toys they had collected at their show and presented it to the Missouri National Guard to be distributed to kids in Joplin that were affected by the recent tornado. After that, a 106-truck convoy raised almost $17,000 for Special Olympics! The trucks left the show and took an hour-long loop through the lush Missouri countryside before heading back to 4 State’s lot. After the convoy, Gailand and Jason made sure everyone got back in line and parked without a hitch. The rest of the day was filled with a Kids Pedal Tractor Pull, another Q & A but this time with the Chrome Shop Mafia boyz, more shop tours, a toy truck modeling contest and a Poker Run.
As the day came to a close, there was still another surprise. Roberto Olazabal, a Customer Service Representative for Lincoln Chrome and a semi-professional skydiver, along with three members of the Skydive Missouri team, jumped out of an airplane and landed at the show. Three of the four jumpers carried flags on their way down – one held a Lincoln Chrome flag, another held a Chrome Shop Mafia flag, and the last one carried a huge American flag – it was awesome (we have never seen so many cameras pointed to the sky at once)!
Now it was time for the awards. In typical CSM fashion, Bryan Martin first handed out a few “Spoof Awards” that came with gag prizes. The Best Stereo award went to Tony Lawson, which was a big plastic megaphone ear horn he could use to help hear when people talk to him; the Best Paint award went to Ray Graves at Farmer’s Oil, and was a pair of giant green sunglasses to help him deal with the glare; the Lowest Bumper award went to Dan Look and was a portable hand winch, so he could straighten that low bumper when needed; Best Lights went to Tom Stevens, who got a pair of jumper cables; and the last silly award for Best First Show went to Ron Millsaps, which was a giant pencil and pad of paper, so he could take good notes from the veterans. After that, the legit awards were announced.
The Best of Show Bobtail (People’s Choice) trophy went to Bob & Shelly Brinker and their “Pirates of the Caribbean” Freightliner, while the Best of Show Combo (People’s Choice) award went to Farmer’s Oil for their clean Peterbilt 359 and curtainside trailer. The Best of Show Bobtail (Competitor’s Choice) went to Steve Moss for his red 1952 Peterbilt, and the Best of Show Combo (Competitor’s Choice) award went to Andy Wise and his two-tone green Pete 389 and stainless tank trailer. The only other award given was the Larry Martin Memorial Award.
Dewey Upchurch of Byron, Illinois runs a handful of trucks that deliver gas and diesel all around Illinois. Dewey and his fifteen-year-old son Dillon are also in the process of opening a new shop in Rockford, IL called Custom Brew Trucks. At this new shop, set to open around the first of the year (2012), Dewey intends to be a one-stop facility for parts, repairs, fabrication, installations, paint and complete truck builds. After a lifetime of driving, he’s looking for a change of pace. The first truck he fully rebuilt was on display at the show, and it was his own – a black 1995 Peterbilt 379 with over one million miles on the odometer. But the Upchurch family is more than just a trucking family that likes to build fancy big rigs – they are caring members of the community – both locally and not-so-local.
After the tornado ravaged the city of Joplin, Dewey and his family, on their own time, collected a trailer-full of various donated supplies from local churches and garage sales and not only personally delivered them to the city, but also stuck around for a few days and helped distribute them. Seeing the devastation around Joplin first-hand really left a lasting impression on the Upchurch family. Unfortunately, in the midst of all this, Dewey’s son Dillon was recently diagnosed with a rare white blood cell disorder that has caused several major health issues. This is still an ongoing struggle, but thanks to their faith and unending support for one another, Dewey and Dillon are confident they can beat this disease and move forward with getting their shop opened up.
In recognition of everything Dewey has done for the city of Joplin, as well as his son, Bryan Martin proudly presented him (and Dillon) with their coveted Larry Martin Memorial Award. This cool aluminum trophy, which was designed, cut, welded, blended and painted by the guys in the 4 State shop, featured an engraved plaque at the bottom that said it best: “This hard-working family has shown admirable integrity, high moral character, a helpful spirit and is a role model for what the American Trucking Family is all about.” We would like to commend and congratulate this family for earning this rare award and hope and pray for the best regarding Dillon’s health.
After the awards were handed out, there was just one more thing to do – announce the winner of the Pile-O-Parts Give Away, a prize package of truck goodies worth over $20,000. All year, folks entered this contest at truck shows throughout the country, and this was it – and the winner is, Mr. Camille Landry of Whitecastle, LA. The winner did not need to be present to win, so they called him from the stage and he actually answered the phone! It was pretty cool!! Camille won a snazzy interior and exterior makeover for his truck that included everything he’d need.
Once the last of the awards were handed out, the fireworks display began. And with 1,150 shots, it was quite the show! Once the fireworks ended, the band “Livewire” took the stage and rocked the lot until the official end of the show.
This show had so many cool trucks other than the ones that earned a trophy, but it would be impossible to mention them all here. A few of them that we really liked included Corey Jones’ “Aftermath” Peterbilt, Michael Muro’s black and grey 359 with an original factory 2-stick setup, Scott Rud’s cool combo, Paul Voight’s “Disorderly Conduct” combo, the whited-out “Ice House” Peterbilt and Dan Look’s baby blue Peterbilt and matching flatbed, just to name a few.
Joplin is still a city in recovery, but so many people have come together to help, much of the cleanup is already done. There is still plenty to do, and some areas look like they have not been touched since the tornado, but overall, as Bryan Martin put it, “This tragedy brought not only the city of Joplin together, but also the neighboring towns, cities and counties. In the end, we will be a stronger and better community.”
Next year’s event is slated for September 28-29, 2012 so mark your calendars. You really do not want to miss this one. The 2011 Guilty By Association Truck Show was off the charts, and we’re sure 2012 will somehow be even better! We hope to see you there!!