Nebraska is home to one of the best truck shows you’ve probably never heard of. Previously named the Chase County Fair Truck Show and now just recently renamed the Color and Chrome Fantasy Truck Show, this event is a hidden gem on the trucking calendar with two days of great people, great trucks, and a very laid back atmosphere that simply shouldn’t be missed.
Held for the last three years on the high school grounds of Imperial, Nebraska, a small town just about an hour south of Ogallala, the show was held alongside the Chase County Fair on August 17-18. For two days the small town of Imperial would, for all intents and purposes, shut down for some good old country fun with concerts, great food, farm machinery, and carnival rides. Three years ago the Fair decided it wanted to make big trucks part of the mix. Contacting Tinker Raasch from the nearby town of Champion, Nebraska, she has organized the show from day one. Wanting to create a truck show that was about how much pride you had for your truck rather than how deep your pockets were, Tinker’s truck show has always been about fun and friends, dismissing the traditional winner’s list in favor of a “Top 20” list. And voting for the trucks isn’t done by a panel of judges – it’s completely a fan vote.
With sunny and warm weather both days, the show was sure to be another good one. We were happy to see some old faces. Most notably, Tinker and Larry Raasch had their 2000 Peterbilt 379 present at the show which had recently been completely rebuilt following an ill-fated run-in with a nasty hail storm. Painted medium-metallic blue with black fenders, their truck “Tinker Toy” was certainly one of the top rides at the show. Ernie Bates of Burlington, Colorado (who I featured in the May 2012 edition) brought his classic narrow-nose red and maroon Peterbilt, and Laird “Spike” Fuller (who I featured in the March 2012 edition) had his lime gold Peterbilt present, as well. Gary Disher also brought out his latest project named “Counterfeit” – a cool 1990 Kenworth W900B. Painted in two-tone metallic green, this old school two-stick truck was also stiff competition to beat.
Friday night featured the light show. Lighting up the Nebraska night, many of the trucks joined in on an impromptu parade down Imperial’s Main Street. With lights flashing and horns blaring, everyone had a good time. Tinker also introduced a real crowd-pleaser this year: burnouts. With help from Jimmy and Steve Disher getting their race trucks out to the show, each afternoon crowds gathered around a closed street to watch big trucks lay down some rubber and make some smoke. And make smoke they did! But, just to make sure that the boys didn’t get a big head, twelve-year-old (that’s right, twelve) Charnie Disher (Jimmy’s grand-daughter) did her very first burnouts in a big truck in Jimmy’s 1952 Kenworth. Talk about a day to remember!
Saturday morning featured the official Chase County Fair parade. With local school bands, businesses, and other organizations lined up, the parade also featured a myriad of Corvettes and a multitude of trucks from the show (many of the drivers took advantage of the opportunity to make a little extra noise for the families lining the road). The Saturday morning parade was a great way to kick-off the final day of the show.
After the parade, it was back to the show grounds. Although Friday is no stressed out, high-tension day (this show is all about fun), much of that first day is spent parking, cleaning and getting ready for the next day. Saturday has a decidedly laid back feel, as the trucks are now shined and parked, and it’s a day to talk with other drivers and look over their rigs. Saturday afternoon it was time to announce the “Top 20” trucks of the show (we’ll get to the list later). Part of what makes Tinker’s show such a great event to attend is that everyone walks away with something good. With tables laid out with thousands of dollars worth of prizes, each of the “Top 20” winners get the opportunity to pick what they want from the tables. Items like train horns, new leather seats, coupons for maintenance and service, and even a new Rockwood floor, were available to choose from – these weren’t cheesy consolation prizes! And, as soon as the “Top 20” trucks were announced, the remaining competitors got to pick through the remaining prizes for themselves. Truly, everyone walks away with something when they attend this show, and that’s part of what makes it so fun.
Tinker’s show has an atmosphere to it that you won’t find at other shows. It’s not about how deep your pockets are or how over-the-top your ride is, the show is about the drivers, the spectators, and most of all, having a good time. With the voting done by the spectators and drivers themselves, the show lacks pretension. As much time is spent wiping down the trucks as is swapping old stories, meeting old friends and making new ones. It’s rare to find such a combination in a truck show, but Tinker has made it happen.
Unfortunately, due to some differences between the Fair Board and Tinker Raasch, her show will not be held at the Chase County Fair next year. With several inexplicable alterations forced upon the show at the last minute, as well as wanting to move the show to a higher-traffic location, Tinker has chosen to move the event this coming year. Although no location has been determined yet, 10-4 Magazine will certainly keep information coming about this great show. Regardless of where the show may move, we’re certain that with Tinker running the show, it won’t lose its unique vibe. Wherever it may be, we hope to see you there next year! Our congratulations go out to all of the winners.
The “Top 20” trucks were: 1st Ernie & Carol Bates of Burlington, CO; 2nd Spike Fuller of Broomfield, CO; 3rd Tim Powell of Yuma, CO; 4th Eric Becker of Enders, NE; 5th Larry Raasch of Champion, NE; 6th Gary Disher of Commerce City, CO; 7th Todd Stockman of Eaton, CO; 8th Kevin Way of Lamar, NE; 9th Kevin Burr of Grant, NE; 10th Russ Reichart of Benkelman, NE; 11th Jeremy Bley of Wauneta, NE; 12th Kelly Beard of Imperial, NE; 13th Shawn Malony of Holyoke, CO; 14th Lyndon Mock of Enders, NE; 15th Justin Mason of North Platte, NE; 16th Steve Grams of Imperial, NE; 17th Aaron Smith of Goodland, KS; 18th Brock Stromberger of Champion, NE; 19th Mike Schiltz of Imperial, NE; and 20th Jim Disher of Commerce City, CO.