If you like things with wheels, then Wheel Jam is the place for you! Every year, big rigs, bikes and cars converge on the South Dakota State Fair grounds for a jam-packed weekend of fun with all of their wheel-loving friends – and the small town of Huron welcomes them with open arms! The 11th annual Wheel Jam Truck Show, held June 6-8, featured an enormous amount of activities all weekend, and with the exception of some wind and rain on Friday, it was awesome.
In addition to the big rig truck show, which featured about 150 of the finest bobtails and combos from around the nation (but mostly South Dakota and Minnesota), there was also a truck parade, an engine brake competition, a chili cook-off, the SD State BBQ Championships, stock car races, a car show, a motorcycle show and burnout contest, a “Battle of the Bands” concert, a bean bag tournament and more!
Set up in the vendor area, out on the grass, under our bright red 10-4 party tent, we were surrounded by advertisers and friends like Valley Chrome, Dynaflex, Stay Loaded Apparel, Lifetime Nut Covers, Lincoln Chrome, RoadWorks, OOIDA, Raney’s Truck Parts and others. Hanging out with all of these folks is one of the best things about going to truck shows. And, of course, no show would be complete without a cooler full of liquid refreshments. For that, we have to thank our friends Gus Marcus and Todd Manolis at Manolis Grocery and Deli. These two cousins run this market and hangout spot that was opened by their grandfather in 1921. Every morning, on our way to the show, we stopped at Manolis for drinks, ice and some great food (they even lent us a cooler for the weekend). Thanks to Gus and everyone else there for taking such good care of us and putting up with our shenanigans.
Walking around the show and checking out all the iron, there were a lot of tall rides in Huron that weekend. Tralo brought out four of their fine rigs from Minnesota, and Vetter Trucking had a few nice trucks, as well (especially the silver Pete with blue stripes and the green and black Pete with white stripes). Ringling Trucking’s black 389 was looking sharp, Wayne & Pearl Holt’s bright green cabover Pete was turning a lot of heads, and Kyle Hennings’ red and white 386 Peterbilt (yes, an aero truck) was getting an awful lot of attention, too. Other notable trucks included Bob & Shelley Brinker’s “Legend of the Black Pearl” Freightliner Classic, Wesley Wulff’s “Never Settle” gold-colored 1993 Peterbilt 379, Doug Perkins’ 379 Pete sporting a new gray, red and black paint job, and Hofer Trucking’s sharp white 389 Pete with green swirling stripes. We were also happy to see our old friends and past cover truckers Duane & Cindy Anwiller (August 2012) and their beautiful “Razzberrys & Chrome” Peterbilt.
On Saturday night, at a trucker social and BBQ held inside one of the many buildings on the fairgrounds, ten “Show N’ Shine” trophies were handed out. These winners, selected informally by the Wheel Jam crew, went to (in no particular order): Dale Melin, Seth Denning, Martin Ellis, Josh Ihlenfeld, Travis Sweet, Kyle Hennings, Doug Jones, Lane Alley, Duane & Cindy Anwiller, and Bobby Wallum. The crew picks these winners themselves and there is no judging or criteria, they just pick from the heart! Also, at this trucker social, a bunch of cool prizes, donated by show sponsors, were raffled off and given away.
On Sunday morning, the judging for the “official” awards began at 11:00 a.m. and then, later that afternoon, the trophies were handed out. It was really no surprise when Bob & Shelley Brinker and their highly-detailed Freightliner was announced as the Best of Show Bobtail winner (their frame rails and engine block are painted to look like wood)! With four amazing rigs on-site, Tralo of Owatonna, MN was named as not only the Best Fleet, but their black KW with red stripes also earned the Best of Show Combo trophy.
The last honor bestowed at the ceremony was a Lifetime Achievement award given to Dennis and Jim Johnson, brothers and owners of Johnson Trucking in Clark, SD. This award is presented annually at the show to “someone who has dedicated their life to the trucking industry in any capacity.” Johnson Trucking turned 50 last December and continues to be a family legacy. Specializing in hauling ag products, Dennis owns two trucks and Jim owns four.
After all of the trophies were handed out, it was time to break our booth down and then head over to The Scoreboard bar in downtown Huron for a little post-show celebrating with the Wheel Jam crew and some other friends. In addition to a bunch of the show volunteers, we had a great time hanging out with our videographer friend Chris Fiffe (Big Rig Videos) and his son Nicolai, as well as our travel partners on this trip, Fernando Barba and Edgar Ubillus of Stay Loaded Apparel. After The Scoreboard closed at midnight, it was off to Lazers for a post-post-show party, which is an annual tradition of the show’s founder and producer, Scot Marone.
Every year, the crew of volunteers at 18 Wheel Truck Promotions LLC work hard at the show (and throughout the year) to produce the event and make sure that Wheel Jam is bigger and better than before. Our thanks go out to the entire crew, which includes Scot Marone, Scott Adams, DeMeris Marone, Tanner Marone, Tracy DeJean, Doug Hooth, Toby Hofer, Becky Hofer, Sandi Johnson, Jerry Johnson, Logan Johnson, Tracy Bratland Bruns and Janice Burnison. We would like to thank each and every one of these fine folks for their hard work and hospitality. Over the years, they have become more than business associates to all of us at the magazine – they have become our South Dakota family!
There is so much to see and do at Wheel Jam it is easy to miss a few things. For that reason, we would like to thank “Prince Ali” of Lincoln Chrome and Mike Horan of RoadWorks for helping us out with the light show pictures (you guys nailed them). We also wanted to thank Fernando at Stay Loaded Apparel for helping to get our stuff to the show from California. We look forward to “hanging out” (working) at many more events throughout the country with all of you.
Our congratulations go out to all of the show winners. If you missed this event or have never attended, we hope to see you next year at Wheel Jam 2015 – we guarantee that you will have a wheel good time! And the winners were:
BOBTAIL (1969 & OLDER): 1st Doug & Daniel Jones of Ipswich, SD; 2nd Dennis & Diane Eschen of Boyd, MN.
BOBTAIL (1970-1979): 1st Paul Mergens of Ham Lake, MN; 2nd Mike Raasch of Chokio, MN; 3rd Todd Shrewsbury of Huron, SD.
BOBTAIL (1980-1989): 1st Wayne & Pearl Holt of Aberdeen, SD; 2nd Stan’s of Alpena, SD; 3rd 4 Seasons Truck Wash of North Mankato, MN.
BOBTAIL (1990-1994): 1st Lane Alley of Isabel, SD.
BOBTAIL (2000-2004): 1st Bob & Shelley Brinker of Grayling, MI; 2nd Doug Perkins of Le Center, MN; 3rd Duane & Cindy Anwiller of Pingree, ND.
BOBTAIL (2005-2009): 1st Seth Denning of Corsica, SD; 2nd Lambert Farms of Frankfort, SD; 3rd Dinger Trucking of Bath, SD.
BOBTAIL (2010-2012): 1st James River Equipment (Allen) of Huron, SD; 2nd Kevin Franken of Huron, SD; 3rd AO Express (Brandon Kissick) of Woonsocket, SD.
BOBTAIL (2013 & NEWER): 1st Ringling Trucking of Platte, SD; 2nd R&R Trucking (Rollie) of Toronto, SD; 3rd All-Ways Transit (Jeff) of Bloomer, WI.
BOBTAIL (LIMITED MILEAGE): 1st Gerry Murray of Saskatchewan, Canada.
COMBO (1979 & OLDER): 1st Dale & Kim Melin of Sioux Falls, SD; 2nd Fritzche Farms (Jeff) of Wessington, SD.
COMBO (1980-1989): 1st Joshua & George Sher of Belle Plaine, MN; 2nd Rich Hiles of Wesley, SD; 3rd Steven Fousek Trucking of Wagner, SD.
COMBO (1990-1994): 1st Wesley Wulff of Gann Valley, SD.
COMBO (1995-1999): 1st Tines Trucking (Coby) of Elm Springs, SD; 2nd Jeff Culver of Huron, SD.
COMBO (2000-2004): 1st Charity Wulff of Gann Valley, SD; 2nd Cory Roth of De Smet, SD; 3rd Brian Stier of Belle Plaine, MN.
COMBO (2005-2009): 1st Rich Anderson of Wilmot, SD; 2nd Shannon DePoy of Lantry, SD; 3rd Shannon Lique of Owatonna, MN.
COMBO (2010-2012): 1st Tilly’s Trucking (Cody) of Rock Valley, IA; 2nd Jeromy Feldhaus of Howard, SD; 3rd Wayne & Pearl Holt of Aberdeen, SD.
COMBO (2013 & NEWER): 1st Josh Ihlenfeld of Owatonna, MN; 2nd Vetter Trucking (Mike) of Iroquois, SD; 3rd Tony Ahlers of Lyndon Station, WI.
COMBO (LIMITED MILEAGE): 1st Josh Ihlenfeld of Owatonna, MN; 2nd NTA Ltd. (Brandon) of Huron, SD.
INTERIOR: 1st Wesley Wulff of Gann Valley, SD; 2nd Doug Perkins of Le Center, MN.
LIGHTS (BOBTAIL): 1st 4 Seasons Truck Wash of North Mankato, MN; 2nd Seth Denning of Corsica, SD.
LIGHTS (COMBO): 1st Daniel Larsen of Larchwood, IA; 2nd Wesley Wulff of Gann Valley, SD.
CABOVER: 1st Doug & Daniel Jones of Ipswich, SD; 2nd Wayne & Pearl Holt of Aberdeen, SD.
SPECIALTY: 1st Johnson Trucking of Clark, SD.
ENGINE BRAKE CONTEST: 1st Matt Wiekerand of Leota, MN; 2nd Jason Swach of Gann Valley, SD.
BEST FLEET: Tralo Trucking of Owatonna, MN.
BEST OF SHOW (BOBTAIL): Bob & Shelley Brinker of Grayling, MI.
BEST OF SHOW (COMBO): Josh Ihlenfeld of Owatonna, MN.
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: Dennis & Jim Johnson of Johnson Trucking in Clark, SD.