To say that the fear of rain was huge would be a gross understatement. It seems that almost every year rain threatens (or actually falls) on the U.S Diesel Truckin’ Nationals, held every year at Raceway Park in Englishtown, NJ. However, this year, the spell was broken – 35 must have been the magic number, as this was the show’s 35th anniversary. As much as a week ahead of the show, the forecast was nothing but sun and cool temperatures for a span of no less than six days. Not in recent history has there been such strong support by Mother Nature for the largest single day trucking event in the United States.
As usual, the evening before the event, hundreds of trucks entered early to get prime parking spots. On Saturday morning, September 17, hundreds more trucks lined-up outside the raceway, hoping to get an early morning entry. When the gates finally opened at 7:30, the trucks started pouring in, filling the staging lanes, lining up for tech inspection, and setting the stage for the biggest tailgating party of the year. The track was clean and dry, and the pits were buzzing with excitement as the vendors and participants set up for a full day of racing and trucking fun.
Most of the major industry players were present in the Manufacturer’s Midway, including dealers from Kenworth, Peterbilt, Volvo, Mack, Freightliner and Cummins. The drag racing got started early, running 28 big diesel classes plus unlimited brackets and special exhibition classes. Just outside the track, on the south end of the lake, drivers were polishing and cleaning some of the finest working show trucks in preparation for the judging of the truck beauty contest. In all, 85 trophies were awarded in 29 show classes.
There was a relentless flow at the entry gates all day long. Over 15,000 people showed up to race, show, watch and enjoy the day. Over 1,500 diesel trucks were on display, pressing the limits of the pit side of the grounds far into the airport on the south side of the lake, including over 300 diesel-powered pickups. This year’s Grand Marshall was Maya Sieber from the hit TV show “Ice Road Truckers” (The History Channel). Maya was out all day, amidst a crowd, meeting fans and signing autographs. Two posters of Maya, posed with the legendary “Beast” truck, were available for purchase and for her to sign. Maya was a great addition to this year’s show.
Elizabeth Truck Center (ETC), a long time presenting sponsor of the U.S. Diesel Truckin’ Nationals, never disappoints with their display of amazing show class working trucks. One of this year’s featured rigs was an all-out custom 2007 Peterbilt 379 called “The Aftermath”. ETC had seen this truck in their shop a few years back when they put a few custom touches on it, but they recently ripped it all apart again to wield their magic – stretching the frame, adding a sleeper, dropping the chassis, etc. – and finely tuning every detail, like they do so well. This rig sports a radical black and red two-tone paint scheme with realistically-flamed tribal stripes throughout. Corey Jones of Pit Bull Transportation is the proud owner of this baby.
The co-star in the ETC pit area this year was Lanita Transport’s “Red Dawn” – a 1981 Kenworth A-Model, classically restored and rebuilt for Scott Diller. “Red Dawn” has spent the summer touring truck shows and picking up top honors all along the way. Regional International also brought back their fan-favorite “Bad Habit” International LoneStar, pulling a totally custom, matching trailer with “Mayhem” (their custom International ProStar) proudly sitting atop. Filling out the lot in the ETC area were Sal C’s whited-out tri-axle W900, CRL’s two-toned Pete, and one of Guida Scrap Metal’s brand new T660’s.
The folks at ETC, alongside their big boy toys, hosted their Second Annual Kids T-shirt Coloring Contest. Parents bought a contest kit consisting of a t-shirt with a coloring-book-style graphic and box of crayons, and then the kids sat and colored the shirts throughout the day. Once completed, the kids then entered their shirts into the contest. At the start of the awards ceremony, the winners were announced and the kids got to go up on the stage and collect their trophy and a Toys-R-Us gift card. It was great fun for both the parents and the children alike.
After the kids collected their prizes, it was time for the moms and dads to get theirs. Dave Hustis, Jeff Dull and John Miller took first place in their bobtail classes, while Jimmy Pergine picked up a first place for his produce straight truck. Casa Redi Mix placed first for their cement mixer, and Glenn Pantore got a workout on the stage stairs, going up and down several times to collect his first place trophy for Best Paint, Best Sound System, Best Tandem Wrecker and Best Flatbed Tandem. Direct Waste claimed the Best Fleet award, as well as 2nd Best Sound System, 2nd Best Custom Chrome, Best Roll-off, and a clean sweep of the entire Sanitation Unit class. Corey Jones picked up the number two spot for Best Paint, as well as Best Custom Interior with “The Aftermath” rig. Not to be outdone by anyone, Scott Diller finished out his show season with a Best of Show win and Best Antique with his red and black “Red Dawn” Kenworth (which was featured on our May 2011 cover).
And when the sun went down, the monster trucks (and others) came out to play. This year’s big-wheeled brawl saw father and son, Dennis and Adam Anderson, competing with Grave Digger and Grave Digger Legend, along with Maximum Destruction and Spiderman. Jet cars, 300+ mph jet dragsters and the famous jet truck thrilled the standing-room-only grandstands at Raceway Park all night long. At intermission, the bicycle stunt team from “Hell on Wheels” came out and wowed the crowd with their high flying, acrobatic jumps and stunts, which was then followed by the ceremonial parade of all the first place winners down Victory Lane (the track).
This event is always a non-stop party filled with fun and excitement from sun up until way past sun down. Raceway Park truly celebrated their 35th anniversary in glowing style this year with one of the best days in their history. If you’re looking to have a spectacular diesel day, mark September 15, 2012 in your calendar for the 36th Annual U.S. Diesel Truckin’ Nationals at Raceway Park, in Englishtown, NJ. You won’t be disappointed. We hope to see you there!