We don’t always know what the future holds for us, and sometimes we find ourselves in a situation that we can’t control. A little over a year ago, Larry Raasch found himself stuck in a hail storm that totaled him and his wife’s (Tinker Raasch) blue and black 379 Peterbilt. It may have been the end of the road as far as the insurance company was concerned, but it wasn’t the end of the road for Tinker and Larry Raasch’s pride and joy – hence, “Tinker Toy 2.0” seen here on these pages now.
Living in Champion, Nebraska (a small town about an hour south of Ogallala), Larry and Tinker are both old-school truckers that take pride in their rig. Together since 1995 and married since 1999, Tinker and Larry have been driving for over three decades, currently running their own operation, Bare Rabbit Ranch Trucking. Tinker’s driving career began with a past boyfriend she used to ride with. Asking questions and watching him drive, eventually one night, after he had gone to bed, she got in the driver’s seat and just started driving. In her near forty years of truck driving she’s hauled oversize, grain, swinging beef, produce, and even explosives. Larry has been driving for 34 years, learning to drive from his father when he was 19 in an old Kenworth cabover with a 220 Cummins and a 4×4 set of sticks. Larry has towed a flatbed, hauled livestock, and moved grain throughout his career. Since Larry and Tinker met they have primarily hauled high-dollar office equipment, and recently began doing some tanker work (which has required a second truck).
Named “Tinker Toy” both for Larry’s wife, Tinker, and because each of them like “tinkering” on the truck, their 2000 Peterbilt 379 began its career as any other Peterbilt 379. It is anything but a “regular” Peterbilt 379 now, though. Painted galaxy blue, the truck features black fiberglass drop fenders front and rear, as well as 8-inch painted cab and sleeper drop panels from Fibertech with numerous penny-light LEDs. With over 140 lights on the rig, the truck also has large amounts of stainless, including a 20-inch bumper, 8-inch miter-cut stacks, a Python grille (which has a distinct mix of grille bars and oval-punched holes), and a bowtie visor. Sitting atop the hood is a polished rabbit-head hood ornament, a long-time feature of Larry and Tinker’s trucks, given to them by a friend many years ago. The interior is no less built-up than the exterior, too. The interior features a large amount of Rockwood wood-grain products, including the steering wheel and a full wood floor. With a 2,700-watt Kenwood sound system, hot/cold shower, Bostrom seats, and 21 stainless steel gauges, the inside of “Tinker Toy” is equally as impressive as the outside.
“Tinker Toy” has plenty of power, as well. Motivated by a 3406E Cat, the engine has been cranked up to a healthy 800+ hp and features a 50-gallon propane injection system. Turning 3.36 rears through an 18-speed transmission on 272 inches of frame rail, the truck sits on low-profile 24.5 rubber out back and tall 24.5 rubber up front. Without a doubt, their truck has more than enough muscle to get the job done – and gets it done quickly, too.
While Larry is out driving, Tinker is anything but idle. Serving as everything from organizer to spokesperson, Tinker has run her own truck show for the past three years. Previously named the Chase County Fair Truck Show and held in Imperial, Nebraska, the show has moved to Ogallala, NE and has been renamed the Color & Chrome Fantasy Truck Show. Featuring a unique prize structure, the show does not rely on traditional first, second, and third place judging, but rather, through generous donations from chrome shops, maintenance operations, dealerships, and other industry-related companies, the top twenty trucks (which are voted on by the show crowd) get first choice on a wide array of prizes. And when it’s all said and done, even those who weren’t in the top twenty get a go at the giveaways. Previous prizes have included everything from certificates for oil changes to an entire Rockwood floor. No one goes home without something in hand from Tinker’s show.
This year’s show is guaranteed to see more great action, featuring truck burnouts, a truck simulator, and some good-old country fun. Sponsors for this year’s show include Bryan Martin and 4 State Trucks/Chrome Shop Mafia, Excel Driver Services, Rockwood Products, Wilkins Oklahoma Truck Supply, and yours truly, 10-4 Magazine! The Color & Chrome Fantasy Truck Show will be held August 9-11 at the Keith County Fair Grounds in Ogallala, NE. With a relaxed atmosphere and a lot of fun, we encourage everyone to mark this show down on their calendars. It is certainly worth making the trip – and it’s one of our favorites. For more details on the Color & Chrome Fantasy Truck Show, visit www.ccftruckshow.com or contact Tinker at (308) 883-5508. We hope to see many of you there!
Like many owner operators, when Larry and Tinker aren’t out trucking and Tinker isn’t organizing the show, most of their free time is devoted to maintaining the truck – and with a second rig now, that certainly isn’t going to be changing any time soon. Tinker also likes to grow pumpkins – and not just any old regular pumpkins – she has grown behemoths weighing in at over 400 pounds!
Tinker and Larry would like to thank Doug Reinke, DJ Dannar, Greybill Chrome, Diversified Body & Paint, and The Lighthouse for their help rebuilding the truck after the hail storm. The couple would also like to thank Winegard, Airxcel, Dometic and PureFlow AirDog for their involvement with the truck, too. We at 10-4 would like to thank Larry and Tinker, not just for their time in getting the truck ready for the photo shoot, but for putting on one of the hidden gems of the truck show season. Putting a show on is no small task, and to do that while running two trucks certainly doesn’t make the task any easier. Get out your calendar, call your broker, and book a load to Nebraska in August so you can attend a show that you certainly won’t forget.
We don’t always know what the future holds, but it’s how we handle the cards we are dealt which shows us who we are. Tinker and Larry were dealt a bad hand, and the powers that be told them the truck wasn’t worth saving, but they didn’t let that stop them – and we are happy it didn’t, because “Tinker Toy 2.0” is even better than the first!