Last year, we reported that the 2011 Guilty By Association Truck Show (GBATS) was the best ever, and that it would be hard to top it in 2012. Well, they did! In addition to all of the other fun activities and events from previous years, this year they added a full-on truck and tractor pull event, complete with modified pickups and pulling tractors, custom heavy-duty rigs, and a human cannonball! Held on September 28-29 at 4 State Trucks in Joplin, Missouri, this show was – dare we say – the best one yet (we say that every year but it is always true).
The event kicked off Thursday night, the night before the show actually began, with a VIP dinner held for all of the attendees, vendors and sponsors. As always, the Chrome Shop Mafia (CSM) crew did not disappoint – no burgers and dogs here – they served up 200 rib-eye steaks, 200 thick-cut pork chops, pulled pork, baked potatoes with all the fixins, salad, rolls and corn. After dinner, cake and ice cream was served. The cake, a 5-foot long truck and trailer made and donated by Penny Guss and her husband Martin (a trucker and longtime 4 State customer), took four grown men to carry in – it was huge! The ice cream feed, like last year, was sponsored and served by us at 10-4 Magazine. During dessert, some fun trivia questions were asked and gag prizes were handed out. Then, everyone at the dinner had the opportunity to choose their own free button-up work shirt that was specially-made just for those in attendance at the show.
The show got started (officially) on Friday morning, and although it did not feel crowded, there were 100 more trucks than last year on the lot. This year, the CSM crew took full advantage of their property across the street from their store and spread the show out, which allowed for more trucks (and still room to grow). This year, there were over 260 trucks, and it was a nice mix of clean everyday work trucks, spotless working show trucks, and flawless professional show trucks. CSM’s “Bossman” Bryan Martin told us that he saw a lot of new faces and plenty of first-timers, including truckers from California, Montana and Canada. And although bad weather and rain were forecast for the weekend, the show stayed dry the entire time and even had moments where the sun popped out for a few minutes here and there. It was perfect truck show weather!
For most people, Friday night’s first-ever truck and tractor pull was the highlight of the whole show. After being suggested by longtime pullers Jerry & Connie Mullenix and Tim Drake, the idea took off. With help from Richard Morris, the folks at Atnip Construction in Jasper, MO donated all of their time and built the course, hauling in tons of clay for the 300-foot long track, making sure it was all rolled, packed and rock-free. With thousands in attendance, both from the show and from the surrounding communities, the crowd was first entertained by the “Cannonlady” – a human cannonball that shot herself 150 feet out of a cannon and into a net, after sailing as high as 60 feet. Sponsored by Lincoln Chrome, this amazing spectacle started the truck and tractor pull off with a bang – literally!
Once the truck pull (sponsored by Merritt Equipment and Valley Chrome) began, things got very loud. Being just an exhibition, with no real categories or prize money to speak of, one would think that it would not be very competitive or exciting, but it was. In addition to the numerous hot pickups, the modified tractors, several pro series big rigs and some regular working trucks, L.D. Nation brought out his Speedco-sponsored quad-engine behemoth modified tractor and made one heck of a run down the track. With all four engines screaming, each at about 2,500 hp for a combined 10,000 hp, this yellow and blue streak made a full pull and then some (it was so loud it blew out the PA system for a few minutes). Dave Amick, with color commentary from Bryan Martin, emceed the entire event from the inside of an old Peterbilt cabover sitting atop a pile of old truck hoods and cabs – it was a real “hillbilly deluxe” announcer’s booth. When it was all said and done (fours hours later), the event was a huge success and a lot of fun.
Saturday morning was busy, as everyone was getting ready for the big charity convoy benefiting the Southwest Missouri Chapter of the Special Olympics. Before the convoy, the first few spots were auctioned off, with the First Class Services crew paying $2,750 to lead the procession. After that, sizeable donations were made by Farmer’s Oil, Mike & Pat Manuel, Truett Novosad and Heard Trucking, securing the first six spots (which raised a bunch of extra money). This year, they rerouted the convoy through town which gave locals a chance to line the streets and cheer as the trucks rolled by. The challenging part of this event was getting the trucks out of the show for the convoy, and then getting them all back in the lot and parked afterwards, and with 160 trucks in the convoy, that was no easy task. Special thanks go out to Jason, Hank, Gailand, and the entire parking crew for getting the job done without a hitch. This convoy, which was the largest one all year, raised over $28,000.
One of the neat things about this show is that everything is free – there are no entry fees whatsoever (except for the charity convoy, of course) and all of the entertainment and events held during the show are free of charge. There is no formal judging for the truck show, but there are People’s Choice and Competitor’s Choice awards handed out, as well as a host of silly awards, which are different every year. The Martin family also chooses one special person in attendance every year as the recipient of their coveted Larry Martin Memorial Award. Other events held during the show included a driving competition, a kids pedal tractor pull, shop tours, a poker run, and various “Blue Light Specials” offered throughout the two-day affair.
The “fun” awards were handed out first, with Bossman Bryan and his brother Brice on the microphone. The “Longest Wheelbase” award went to Brad Parsons for his 330-inch long W900 Kenworth. His prize was an “emergency spill kit” for when he tears up his tanks and starts spilling fuel (the “kit” consisted of a bright yellow bucket filled with various sponges, towels, rubber gloves, and goggles). The “Mr. Cool” award went to Victor Thomas of Platinum Enterprises (his award was a black leather jacket and dark sunglasses). The “Longest Tow” award went to Jade who came all the way from central Canada (their prize was a five gallon jug of diesel fuel). The “Mr. Goodtime” award went to Dan Look, who is always looking for a good time (he got a bottle of aspirin and a Gatorade, so he could get rehydrated). The “Biggest Heart” award went to the First Class crew for their generous donation in the convoy, and special awards were given to Jason Alt for his awesome parking control (a cop’s hat, a whistle, Aviator sunglasses and a big red “STOP” sign) and Dave Amick, who has emceed every GBATS show and always brings out the stage (he was presented with a giant key to the store).
After the silly awards were presented, it was time for the real ones. The People’s Choice Bobtail trophy went to Jeremy Graves of Farmer’s Oil for his 2012 orange and mocha Peterbilt 389, while the People’s Choice Combo award went to Spencer Starrett and his white and orange Pete 379 daycab and Mac end dump trailer. The Competitor’s Choice Bobtail trophy went to Carl Bardroff Jr. for his dark blue Peterbilt 4-axle with white stripes, and the Competitor’s Choice Combo award went to Dusty Berry for his flamed purple and burnt orange Peterbilt 379 and matching heavy-haul trailer. The Larry Martin Memorial Award was presented to Paul Marcotte.
At the end of the day on Saturday, after all of the awards were handed out, there was a fireworks display (sponsored by Dynaflex) and then the band “Southern Green” took the stage, banging out southern-style and classic rock tunes until the end of the night (and the show). With too many people to thank, Bryan and the rest of the Martin family wanted to thank everyone involved in the show – you know who you are – for working so hard and for doing such an amazing job. We at 10-4 would like to thank the entire 4 State family for their hospitality and friendship. We have been involved with this show since the beginning, and intend to be involved with the rest of them, too. Hey, if having fun is a punishable offense, then we plead guilty – again! If you missed GBATS this year, we hope to see you next year. The 2013 show is scheduled for September 27-28, so don’t miss it!