The roar of over 100 diesel engines broke the silence on what seemed to be a normal, quiet Sunday morning in the town of Great Meadows, New Jersey. For the first time in more than 20 years, big rigs rolled through the gates of Island Dragway, preparing to race. After lying dormant for six months, the dragway reopened in the summer of 2013. New track operator Melissa Milano took over operations of the track from her mother and worked with me over a short period of time to put this event together.
The first Shine & Smoke at Island Dragway, Presented by Super Show Rigs, was held on Sunday, September 29, 2013. When I rolled into the facility early Sunday morning, there was already a line of trucks waiting at the front gate. After a few moments of insanity when the gates were opened and the trucks roared in, everything started to fall into place.
All sorts of trucks showed up for the event, including everyday working trucks, tri-axle dumps, tow trucks, race rigs, lifted and non-lifted diesel pickups, and even a fully-custom show truck built by ETC (Elizabeth Truck Center). The big rigs continued to roll in most of the morning and on into the early afternoon. In addition to the local drivers who came in from all over the Jersey area, convoys of trucks also came in from places like Long Island, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and New York. More than 100 trucks, big and small, came out to this first-time event held at the outstanding dragway.
The afternoon started with an open test and tune session. This part of the event was open to anyone who wanted to run their truck down the track just for fun. Donny Williamson of Gary W. Gray Trucking in Delaware, NJ, raced down the track in fellow employee Greg Holt’s 2003 Peterbilt 379. He had a blast and loved the idea of an open test and tune.
Some of the heavy-hitter big rig truck racers included Fred Angle, Rich Reddick, Sonny Kline, Leon Smith and Joe DiPaolo Sr., along with crews from Blair Trucking, Victory Gardens, and GA Equipment. They all made their time trials and prepared for a gambler’s race for the money, which took place later on in the day, as well as a quick truck shootout. The pickups were letting their presence be known, too. One of the racers even brought out a set of four drag slicks and changed everything over in the parking lot before hitting the track. There were all kinds of pickups – from daily-driven Dodge, Ford and GM diesel pickups, to a few custom-built, race-ready trucks with non-factory powertrains.
Racing was not the only thing to see at the show – there was a line-up of show and race rigs that was over a quarter-mile long! Parked along the track fence, these large rides ranged from a brand new 2013 Peterbilt 389 to a 1964 Kenworth dump truck. One of the standouts of the show was Paul Vanker’s Kenworth W900L, which was painted teal green with purple flames, and featured a seductive woman airbrushed in the flames. Junior John of Long Island, NY also brought his stretched-out Peterbilt 379, which was painted a bright purple with orange stripes. He works it daily, going in and out of landfills, pulling a dump trailer.
Some other cool rigs at the show included a pair of father-and-son trucks driven by Richard and Ron Seeman, a few older Kenworths owned by Brian Bobrick, and Kevin Carter’s freshly-done Freightliner Classic. H & S Enterprises, Blair Trucking, Hillwick, Two Brothers Scrap, Shadow Trucking, and VanElswyk Trucking also had several cool trucks from their fleets at the show, as well.
Everyone who attended the event was able to vote for a “People’s Choice” in both the big rig and pickup classes. The trophies for the show and racing awards were provided by Bryan Mirsky of Legend Warehouse and Trucking. The people’s choice for the Best of Show Big Rig went to Junior John of Long Island, NY and his purple and orange 2005 Peterbilt 379 daycab, while the Best of Show Pickup award went to Doug Drukker of Oxford, NJ for his white 2007 Ford F350. The final event of the show was a bracket-style gambler’s race with a $1,200 purse. Fred Angle took home the money when his Kenworth W900A defeated Sonny Kline and his rig.
As the event came to a close, the chatter around the track was all positive. After the show, a meeting with track management reiterated the same view, and I was given the green light to do two more shows at this venue in 2014. Island Dragway, located right off Route 46 in New Jersey, is the perfect place to host the official “SuperShowRigs.com” truck shows this year. With a well-maintained quarter-mile track and plenty of room to have large car/truck shows, mud bogs, truck pulls and even flea markets, this track is on its way to becoming bigger and better. I would like to say “thank you” to everyone who helped me out with this event, including Danielle, Eric, TJ, Doug, Bryan, Fred, Rich, Washington Collision, the Island Dragway staff, and everyone who attended and raced.
The dates for the next two shows at Island Dragway are Saturday, May 31, 2014, and Saturday, September 27, 2014. At the show in May, the Spooling Up All Diesel Show, all types of diesel-powered vehicles are welcome. There will be a non-judged show and shine, as well as drag racing with cash payouts to the winners in the gambler’s races. The show in September is the 2nd Annual Shine & Smoke Diesel Big Rig and Diesel Pickup ONLY Show. This event will feature a judged show and shine, as well as drag racing with cash payouts to the winners in the gambler’s races. These dates have been approved and set, but if anything changes, we will let you know. Keep an eye on the SSR website (www.supershowrigs.com) and their Facebook page for details, or just continue reading 10-4 Magazine!