Rust and chrome are both common sights at antique truck shows, and no other single event in the country has more rust or chrome to enjoy then the annual ATHS (American Truck Historical Society) National Convention & Antique Truck Show. This year, the show was held in Springfield, Missouri, and it was the first truck show of the year for me. I had been looking forward to this show since missing last year’s in Yakima, Washington. For an entire year, I have had to hear about all of the amazing and different trucks that I missed, so I was excited to finally arrive in Missouri.
Held on May 29th through May 31st at the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds just north of I-44 in Springfield, it was the perfect location, geographically, to have the show, as it’s very close to the center of the U.S. and just over an hour away from 4 State Trucks in Joplin. For $70, show attendees had the opportunity to take a tour of the 4 State Trucks’ chrome shop and customization facility, as well as the Peterbilt dealer in Springfield on Thursday, then go back to the fairgrounds to finish the day. The people who went said they had a great time!
I arrived early on Friday hoping to get some great pictures of all the different trucks before the crowds showed up, but the weather decided to change my plans with a downpour of rain in the morning. As if everyone hadn’t spent enough time cleaning their trucks and getting them ready for the show, now they were all wiping them down – again! Despite the rain, the rest of the weekend was filled with sunshine and temperatures in the low 80’s. Over 10,000 people came out to see the massive display of historic trucks (and a few newer ones, too).
With scattered buildings and few hills, the Ozark’s fairgrounds were a great setting. Trucks, cars, pickups, and even a 1946 Flxible bus owned by Jerry Jones, stretched out around the vast property. From rust to chrome, there was a great mix of things to see. Greg Nuss brought out a 1943 chain-driven Mack dump truck that was tucked away in the southwest corner, but it still got a lot of attention. There was also a neat old Autocar hooked to a classic airstream travel trailer! Several people had either brought out their own golf cart or rented one on-site, and many of them were highly-customized with what seemed to be the latest trend – equipping them with cab lights, air horns and stacks.
Some of the other notable trucks included a hand-cranked 1922 Harvey; the 1965 green “Helt-Up” Peterbilt that was built by Joplin Peterbilt a few years back; the stunning bright red Bracelin “One” Peterbilt from Brent’s Custom Trucks in Oregon; a Smokey & The Bandit “Snowman” KW; Eldon & Barb Jaeger’s 1948 Model 270 cabover; the entire Dalton fleet of antiques; Jerry Howard’s beautiful black 1954 Autocar; and many, many more. Over 700 trucks came from all over the country. Even the parking lot had some show-worthy trucks sitting outside the gates. The exhibit hall had several vendors selling used parts, photos, t-shirts, hand-built models, and a huge selection of die-cast toy trucks.
In addition to the hundreds of old trucks, there was also a handful of newer ones as well, as the National Association of Show Trucks (NAST) had a small truck beauty competition in conjunction with the ATHS event, which is not a competitive show, and there are usually no awards handed out. On the last day of the show, NAST handed out their People’s Choice awards to Tyler Picknell and his 1994 dark green Peterbilt (1st place), a fire red Mack named “Bustin’ Out” (2nd place), and Dry Creek’s white and orange 389 Peterbilt (3rd place). All of these rigs were awesome!
Also, this event, wherever it is held, has come to be the place where Roger Snider takes the pictures for the next year’s Chrome & Elegance truck calendar, so 12 special trucks were invited to come out and be photographed for the calendar. These newer trucks (some brand new) got strange looks from some of the attendees who were wondering why someone would bring a brand new truck to an antique truck show.
Springfield, MO is known as the birthplace of Route 66. In 1938, it was the first end-to-end paved highway in the United States. So, on Sunday, after the show had ended, several trucks took part in an “old Route 66” convoy that took them into Oklahoma for lunch and then up to the Big Brutus Museum in Kansas. At 16 stories tall and 11 million pounds, “Big Brutus” is the largest electric shovel in the world. Retired now, the behemoth, built in 1962, stands as a reminder of the rich coal-mining history in Kansas.
I’m glad to have made it out to this amazing event and look forward to next year’s ATHS national show being held in Pennsylvania. If “rust and chrome” are things you enjoy, then this is the show for you! I encourage you to make the trip next year – you will not be disappointed. For more information about this show and other ATHS events across the entire country, visit www.aths.org today.
EDITOR’S NOTE: We would like to welcome Colby Williams to our family of correspondents and photographers and thank him for covering this show for us. Colby is a talented photographer who lives in Seattle, Washington and shoots trucks (and other stuff) under the name Fueled Photography. To learn more about Colby and his talents, visit www.fueled photography.com today or find him on Facebook under Fueled Photography.