After a few not-so-great years, the 41st annual Mid-America Trucking Show (MATS), held March 22-24 in Louisville, Kentucky, came roaring back to start the 2012 truck show season off on the right foot. Held once again at the Kentucky Expo Center, this show had it all – 1,070 exhibiting companies spread out over 1.2 million square feet, almost 81,000 attendees (that is a new record), and 100+ of the finest working and non-working show trucks competing for trophies and bragging rights outside in the parking lot.
The festivities started early, on Wednesday afternoon, when the Chrome Shop Mafia crew hosted a BBQ and hot rod tricycle race for the truck owners out on the lot getting their rigs ready for the competition. Several people brought out their own custom tricycles, including the folks at Lincoln Chrome, but when the dust finally cleared, Chad Blackwell, piloting a cool trike built by the CSM boyz, was the winner.
Once the actual show opened on Thursday morning, the crowds came pouring in. It was hard for us to get away from our booth because it was so busy all day, but when we finally did, we were able to walk around the show and see some pretty amazing displays. Both Kenworth and Peterbilt unveiled new flagship trucks at MATS. The Kenworth T680 and the Peterbilt 579 are both aerodynamic-type trucks that boast major improvements in comfort, ride and efficiency. Both are powered by the 12.9L PACCAR MX engine (the Peterbilt also offers the Cummins ISX as an option). Both of these rigs looked pretty good and, based on the crowds of people around them during the show, we’d say that they were fairly well-accepted.
Further down the main hall, Navistar had what we are sure is the largest booth ever – at any show – anywhere. Seriously, it was huge! It was so big, they gave you a map when you walked inside so you could find your way around. Calling it the “Navistar Global Summit and Exposition” this booth boasted Navistar (International) trucks from around the world, and heavily promoted the fact that they are the only true American truck manufacturer still left. During the show, they also unveiled the International LoadStar, a severe duty low cab forward work truck designed to serve customer needs in the waste, concrete pumping, airplane fueling markets and more. The LoadStar also features a unique stainless steel cab that minimizes corrosion and increases durability.
Not to be outdone by all of the other truck makers, Freightliner had an equally-impressive display based around their 70th anniversary. Their booth was centered around an “innovation truck” they called Revolution. Sitting next to that futuristic-looking rig was a beautifully-restored 1942 Shovelnose cabover, which was Freightliner’s first truck. Surrounding these two rigs was a ring of signs depicting the entire Freightliner story. It was a great set-up.
Over in the 10-4 booth, we may have not had the biggest exhibit in the building, but we did have one of the busiest! Selling t-shirts and handing out thousands of free magazines and posters, we had a constant parade of friends coming by the booth to visit. And helping us out again this year was Marion Stolz and her son Jim who came all the way from Courtland, MN to help run the booth. Of course, they brought along plenty of Grain Belt Premium beer and a variety of summer sausages from our favorite place, Schmidts Meat Market in Nicollet, MN (www.schmidtsmeatmarket.com). We also got some help from Jed DeBardeleben and Theresa Bast, our great friends from St. Louis, MO. We also had fun hangin’ out with Truett Novosad and Randy Supak, Frank Strohmyer, Jay Sherrel, the Klos boys from Australia, Fabien Calvet (our new correspondent from France), and the entire crew from Moss Trucking. It was also nice to see Kim Grimm for the first time in a few years, and to meet our new friends, Jim and Sonya Wise. Going to all these shows is fun, but it wouldn’t be the same without our great friends out there. Thanks to everyone who came by the booth!
When we finally made it outside on Thursday afternoon, the weather was absolutely perfect. Strolling the lot and taking pictures, there was plenty of new iron to admire, including a new combo from Randy Stroup and the guys at First Class Services (First Gear). This white and dark red 2005 Pete and matching polished tanker was a true spectacle. Sporting a “gear” theme, nothing was overlooked – the detail was phenomenal (way too much to mention). This truck earned six trophies, including Best of Show in the Limited Mileage Combo class and the coveted People’s Choice award.
Another wild new combination was brought out by veterans Todd & Beth Roccapriore, along with John O’Keefe, from Clean Slate (The Low Life). After blazing a trail with their ground-breaking “Widow Maker” rig a couple years ago, the couple’s latest creation featured holes all over it – yes, you heard that right – holes. There were holes drilled in everything, even the fuel tanks! The truck’s black, burnt orange and gold paint scheme was even painted on the pipes. This 2007 Peterbilt and its matching 2011 Mac dump trailer had all sorts of unique fabricated pieces, an awesome interior, and a beautifully-detailed engine. This truck also won six trophies – including Best of Show in the Working Combo class – and turned a lot of heads.
Jade Transport, usually known for their green rigs, brought out a new bright orange and flat black 2007 Peterbilt that was in a class by itself. A lot of people have gone for that hot rod look and came close, but this rig hit the nail on the head! Featuring a weed burner exhaust underneath (no pipes), super-modified air intakes (no external air cleaners), billet-style grilles on the front and back, carbon-fiber fenders, custom cab lights, custom running boards, black six-spoke wheels and more, this truck may have only earned two trophies, but it was one of the most original rigs on the lot.
A few other sharp rigs that were new to the scene included a dark blue Kenworth from Blue Leasing, a cool white and grey KW and matching Wabash trailer from TraLo Companies, a few bold International LoneStars, including a new black and white one shown by David Cline, and Clint Moore’s newest creation, a green, black and white 2012 Peterbilt 389, built for Nick Baudino, which took 1st place in the New Truck class and 3rd in Interior (see Clint Moore’s May 2012 “Clint’s Creations” column for a complete article about this truck). We also had the pleasure of meeting the guys from Dickerson Farms out of Lebanon, Indiana. Their black 2007 Peterbilt with orange stripes and a perfectly-matched interior was lookin’ really good!
Along with all of the new trucks, there were also a lot of familiar ones, too. Popular trucks owned by Cliff King, Bill & Marie Sandvik, Bob & Shelly Brinker, Paul Voight, Jerry Kissinger, Paul & David Marcotte, Wayne Baker and Dan Look were all on the lot, and none of them, as usual, disappointed. Bill & Marie Sandvik, after all these years, were still able to earn Best of Show in the Limited Mileage Bobtail class with their 1998 white and blue Peterbilt, and Bob & Shelly Brinker and their 2000 Freightliner Classic XL (Legend of the Black Pearl) walked away with six trophies, including Best of Show in the Working Bobtail class, with their well-known working show truck.
The people who put on the truck beauty show, which is called the Paul K. Young Truck Beauty Championships, always do a good job, but this year, they went above and beyond the call of duty. After the judging was finished and the winners were determined on Thursday night, the PKY staff, which made sure to take several pictures of every truck in the show as they entered the parking lot on Wednesday, went to work for 30 hours straight and prepared a full-color, 116-page “Championship Report” and then sent it to a local printer. On Saturday morning, just before the awards ceremony began, 5,000 of these professionally-printed show recaps were delivered to the Expo Center. After the winners were announced and all of the trophies were handed out, they passed out these free program recaps to everyone in the crowd and then took the rest outside so that thousands of attendees could grab a free copy, too. It was a huge hit! Kudos to Lindsay Anhalt, Cheri Kimball, Aaron Kimball and Jona Rebillard for all of their hard work putting it together. The rest of the PKY staff, which also did a great job, includes Bud Farquhar, Buzz Sweden, Jason Alt, Randy Rebillard and Sue Fena. Click here to see the entire program.
The Mid-America Trucking Show is always the biggest and best show of the year – even in the “bad” years, it is still way bigger and better than any other trucking show out there – but this year, it was good to see the show really bounce back. There was an optimism in the air, and in this day and age, that is a very good thing. The dates for next year are scheduled for March 21-23, 2013. We hope all of the other shows bounce back, too. But in the meantime, we will just celebrate the fact that MATS is back! This year’s winners were:
WORKING BOBTAIL (2003 & OLDER): 1st Bob & Shelly Brinker, 2000 Freightliner Classic XL; 2nd Michael Holland, 2007 Peterbilt 379; 3rd John Byers, 1988 Freightliner.
WORKING BOBTAIL (2004 & NEWER): 1st David Foster, 2005 Kenworth W900L; 2nd Wayne McCarty, 2005 Freightliner Classic XL; 3rd Joe Eden, 2001 Peterbilt 379.
PAINT (BOBTAIL): 1st Bob & Shelly Brinker, 2000 Freightliner Classic XL; 2nd Ferretti Carting, 2002 Peterbilt Rolloff; 3rd David Foster, 2005 Kenworth W900L.
LIGHTS (BOBTAIL): 1st Rebecca Aurenz, 2000 Peterbilt 378 Wrecker; 2nd Bob & Shelly Brinker, 2000 Freightliner Classic XL; 3rd Bryan Davis, 2005 Peterbilt 379.
FIRST SHOW (BOBTAIL): 1st Patric Matte, 2006 Peterbilt 379; 2nd Bryan Davis, 2005 Peterbilt 379; 3rd Tony Sterwerf, 2009 Peterbilt 389.
WORKING COMBO (2002 & OLDER): 1st Jerry Kissinger, 1991 Mack Superliner & 2006 Great Dane; 2nd David Marcotte, 1992 Peterbilt 379 & 1979 Heil Tanker; 3rd John Jaikes, 1995 Kenworth W900L & 2006 Utility.
WORKING COMBO (2003 & NEWER): 1st John O’Keefe, 2007 Peterbilt 379 & 2011 Mac End Dump; 2nd Cliff King, 2007 Peterbilt 386 & 2006 Wabash; 3rd William Rethwisch, 2012 Peterbilt 389 & 2008 Polar Tanker.
COMPANY COMBO: 1st TJ Timblin, 2005 Kenworth 900L & 2010 Doonan Stepdeck; 2nd Don Bowling, 2006 Peterbilt 379 & 2011 Mac Flatbed Doubles; 3rd Duaine Conrad, 2010 Kenworth T660 & 2011 Great Dane.
PAINT (COMBO): 1st John O’Keefe, 2007 Peterbilt 379 & 2011 Mac End Dump; 2nd Don Bowling, 2006 Peterbilt 379 & 2011 Mac Flatbed Doubles; 3rd Josh Ihlenfeld, 2005 Kenworth W900 & 2002 Wabash Dry Van.
LIGHTS (COMBO): 1st John O’Keefe, 2007 Peterbilt 379 & 2011 Mac End Dump; 2nd William Rethwisch, 2012 Peterbilt 389 & 2008 Polar Gas Tanker; 3rd John Jaikes, 1995 Kenworth W900L & 2006 Utility Reefer.
FIRST SHOW (COMBO): 1st Daniel Raible, 2005 Peterbilt 379 & 2012 Mac Flatbed; 2nd Kurtis Ballard, 2013 Peterbilt 389 & 2011 Brenner; 3rd Maya Sieber, 1997 Peterbilt 379 & 2012 Wilkens Alaero.
ANTIQUE: 1st Eric Hardage, 1963 Mac B-83; 2nd John Bright, 1984 Mack R686ST; 3rd Don Doverspike, 1985 Marmon 57P.
SPECIALIZED: 1st Dwayne Jackson, 2001 Peterbilt 379; 2nd Ferretti Carting, 2002 Peterbilt Rolloff; 3rd Rebecca Aurenz, 2000 Peterbilt 378 Wrecker.
NEW TRUCK: 1st Nick Baudino, 2012 Peterbilt 389; 2nd Ryan Danylchek, 2012 Peterbilt 389; 3rd Roger Cooney, 2012 Freightliner Coronado.
INTERIOR (CAB ONLY): 1st Kris DuBois, 2009 Kenworth T660 & 2012 Utility; 2nd Michael Holland, 2007 Peterbilt 379; 3rd Monte Orsi, 2002 Peterbilt 379 & 2007 Wabash Reefer.
INTERIOR (OEM SLEEPER): 1st John O’Keefe, 2007 Peterbilt 379 & 2011 Mac End Dump; 2nd Bob & Shelly Brinker, 2000 Freightliner Classic XL; 3rd Nick Baudino, 2012 Peterbilt 389.
INTERIOR (AFTERMARKET SLEEPER): 1st Cliff King, 2007 Peterbilt 386 & 2006 Wabash Dry Van; 2nd Jerry Kissinger, 1991 Mack Superliner
& 2006 Great Dane.
ENGINE: 1st John O’Keefe, 2007 Peterbilt 379 & 2011 Mac End Dump; 2nd Bob & Shelly Brinker, 2000 Freightliner Classic XL; 3rd Jerry Kissinger, 1991 Mack Superliner & 2006 Great Dane.
LIMITED MILES (BEST ENGINE): Randy Stroup of First Class Services, 2005 Peterbilt 379 & 2012 Etnyre Tanker.
LIMITED MILES (BEST INTERIOR): Randy Stroup of First Class Services, 2005 Peterbilt 379 & 2012 Etnyre Tanker.
LIMITED MILES BOBTAIL (BEST PAINT): David Dyck of Jade Transport, 2007 Peterbilt 379 Legacy.
LIMITED MILES COMBO (BEST PAINT): Randy Stroup of First Class Services, 2005 Peterbilt 379 & 2012 Etnyre Tanker.
LIMITED MILES BOBTAIL (BEST LIGHTS): David Cline, 2011 International Lone Star.
LIMITED MILES COMBO (BEST LIGHTS): Paul Voigt, 1999 Peterbilt 379 & 2004 Great Dane.
LIMITED MILES BEST OF SHOW (BOBTAIL): 1st Bill & Marie Sandvik, 1998 Peterbilt 379; 2nd David Dyck, 2007 Peterbilt 379 Legacy; 3rd Steve Moss, 1952 Peterbilt 350.
LIMITED MILES BEST OF SHOW (COMBO): 1st Randy Stroup, 2005 Peterbilt 379 & 2012 Etnyre; 2nd Paul Voigt, 1999 Peterbilt 379 & 2004 Great Dane; 3rd Jerod Bebermeyer, 1982 Peterbilt 359 & 2012 Tanker.
ROCKWOOD’S “RUNNIN’ LATE” AWARD: Ron Saris.
JONES PERFORMANCE “BEST THEME” AWARD: Don Bowling, 2006 Peterbilt 379 & 2011 Mac Flatbed Doubles (Breast Cancer Awareness).
ROADWORKS “BEST USE OF CHROME” AWARD (BOBTAIL): Bill & Marie Sandvik, 1998 Peterbilt 379.
ROADWORKS “BEST USE OF CHROME” AWARD (COMBO): Paul Voigt, 1999 Peterbilt 379 & 2004 Great Dane.
FIRESTONE’S “MOST TECHNOLOGICALLY ADVANCED CAB” AWARD: Rebecca Aurenz, 2000 Peterbilt 378 Wrecker.
PETERBILT’S “BEST PETERBILT AT SHOW” AWARD: Randy Stroup, 2005 Peterbilt 379 & 2012 Etnyre Tanker.
SPECIAL “KICK START” TRUCK BUILD AWARD: Coleman Doverspike.
JAKE EILEN “PRIDE IN YOUR RIDE” MEMORIAL AWARD: William Rethwisch, 2012 Peterbilt 389 & 2008 Polar Gas Tanker.
BEST OF SHOW (WORKING BOBTAIL): Bob & Shelly Brinker of Brinker Transport, 2000 Black Freightliner Classic XL with murals.
BEST OF SHOW (WORKING COMBO): John O’Keefe of Clean Slate, 2007 Orange, Black & Gold Peterbilt 379 & 2011 Polished Mac End Dump.
PEOPLE’S CHOICE: “First Gear” – Randy Stroup of First Class Services, 2005 Red & Diamond White Peterbilt 379 & 2012 Etnyre Tanker.