The town of Huron once again welcomed another year of hot wheels. With 170 registered trucks and 200 total, the 12th year of the annual Wheel Jam Truck Show was a record turnout!
On Thursday, trucks began pouring into the South Dakota State Fairgrounds to get washed and parked. The spaces available were being filled with bobtails on the east side of the truck row, while the combinations were all parked on the west side, making for a nice layout. This year, the trucks were being parked at an angle, as opposed to being pulled straight in, which gave better photo opportunities.
Eight cabovers varying in age convoyed from the edge of town to the show and made up the majority of COEs on display. Seeing those old horses roll onto the show grounds, together, was iconic, to say the least. As the rows filled up with primarily working class rides, their owners and drivers started to immediately prep the trucks for competition. With plenty of wiping, polishing and detailing of the outsides, many spent an equal amount of time cleaning the inside of their trucks, as well.
As trucks continued to roll in on Friday, they began to spill out into the adjacent parking lots and roads around the fairgrounds. Vendors also set up booths and got ready to do business. The food lane and children’s activities were in place, as well. As the sun came down, the truck lights came on, and the crowds came out – the glow of the truck lights were met with a barrage of cameras from the spectators. Each truck sported lighting schemes that best suited that truck. Sensory overload comes to mind when walking down a row with lit trucks on both sides.
An aerial view of the fairgrounds and surrounding areas was available via helicopter, a new attraction that showed up near the chili cook-off area. The five-minute tour felt like a fun roller coaster ride, and the view from above made the parked trucks look like toy Tonka trucks.
With a record number of rigs on-hand, the parade on Saturday morning did not disappoint. It started off with the Huron Police Department escorting a band of motorcycles down Dakota Avenue, followed by classic cars, and then the big trucks. Kids, as well as adults, lined the edges of the streets, waiting to score some candy being thrown from the parade participant’s vehicles. Looking to the north, as the main attractions were approaching, was an endless line of big trucks! It doesn’t take long to figure out why this three-day event is called Wheel Jam, as every type of equipment (with wheels) that you could imagine came easing down the street.
Saturday afternoon’s “Dynamic Engine Brake” contest is like no other in the world – the highest decibel reading wins! A large crowd of nearly 300 was on-hand as the drivers lined up on the north end of Nevada Avenue. On cue, the drivers ran through the gears as fast as they could and then fired off their Jakes where they thought the best spot under the decibel reader would be. 35 trucks competed for money and various prizes, and there were five total winners, with noise readings ranging from 127.7 to 129.1 decibels of Jake Brake goodness!
Every year, the promoters and producers of the Wheel Jam Truck Show present a Lifetime Achievement Award to a deserving person. This year’s award went to Gary French of Gary French Trucking in Cavour, South Dakota. Presented to someone who has dedicated their life to the trucking industry in any capacity, Gary has lived and trucked there all his life. With over four million miles behind the wheel, his career has spanned more than 40 years. Although he has also hauled other types of products, livestock is his primary cargo, these days.
In regards to some rolling footage and other great videos and pictures I took at the show, the upcoming 2015 Wheel Jam DVD will have lots of truck show moments, including the cabover convoy, trucks getting parked, the light show, driver interviews, parade footage, the jake brake contest, lots of rolling footage, and a “Rolling CB Interview” (my specialty) of a convoy of six combinations as they left the show.
Wheel Jam is always an action-packed show, with a lot going on, and the 2015 event was certainly no different. I had a great time with my “Huron Family” and can’t wait until next year. If you missed it, I hope you don’t make the same mistake next year, because this is one fun and unique show that consistently features some of the hottest wheels to ever grace the road.
SHOW & SHINE WINNERS: 1st Travis Conner; 2nd Jerry Linander; 3rd Dan Langley; 4th Clyde Green; 5th Doug Flowers; 6th Brandon Syrstad; 7th Matt Anderson; 8th Shane Jungemann; 9th Todd Kautzman; 10th Jim Johnson.
DYNAMIC ENGINE BRAKE COMPETITION: 1st Jim Selby; 2nd Travis VanderPol.
BOBTAIL (1969 & OLDER): 1st Todd Kauzman.
BOBTAIL (1970-1979): 1st Doug & Daniel Jones; 2nd Paul Mergens; 3rd Dale Melintruck.
BOBTAIL (1980-1989): 1st Midland Contracting; 2nd Wayne & Pearl Holt; 3rd Todd Kautzman.
BOBTAIL (1990-1994): 1st Glenn Carver; 2nd Mike Eschen.
BOBTAIL (1995-1999): 1st Brad Parsons; 2nd Heather Huppler; 3rd Jason Rahm.
BOBTAIL (2000-2004): 1st Casey Carlson; 2nd Duane Anwiler; 3rd Kaleb Modder.
BOBTAIL (2005-2009): 1st Seth Denning; 2nd Midland Contracting; 3rd Bixler Farms.
BOBTAIL (2010-2013): 1st Rollie Kruse; 2nd Allan Haak; 3rd North Central Farmers Elevator.
BOBTAIL (2014 & NEWER): 1st Tim Seurer; 2nd Bradyn & Peyton Denning; 3rd Kurt Seymour.
BEST BOBTAIL (LIMITED MILES): Tralo.
COMBO (1979 & OLDER): 1st Wesley Wulff; 2nd Kirby Peterson.
COMBO (1980-1989): 1st Clyde Green; 2nd Larry Olsen; 3rd Gary & Deb French.
COMBO (1990-1999): 1st Ken & Barb Fisher; 2nd Coby Tines; 3rd Scott Graham.
COMBO (2000-2004): 1st Dan Langley; 2nd Eugene Anderson; 3rd Terry Waters.
COMBO (2005-2009): 1st Jerry Linander; 2nd Cody VanTilburg; 3rd Shannon Lique.
COMBO (2010-2013): 1st Kyle Hennings; 2nd Dennis Durand; 3rd Don Hovde.
COMBO (2014 & NEWER): 1st Charlie Roseland; 2nd Terry Sturby; 3rd Conner Trucking.
BEST COMBO (LIMITED MILES): Tralo.
INTERIOR (DRIVER’S CHOICE): 1st Ken & Barb Fisher; 2nd Zack Reed (Tralo).
LIGHTS – BOBTAIL (DRIVER’S CHOICE): 1st Casey Carlson; 2nd Seth Denning.
LIGHTS – COMBO (DRIVER’S CHOICE): 1st Clyde Green; 2nd Ken & Barb Fisher.
BEST SPECIALTY RIG: Ben Budde.
BEST CABOVER: Wayne & Pearl Holt.
BEST BULL RACK: Kyle Hennings.
BEST FLEET: Jade Trucking.
BEST OF SHOW BOBTAIL: Casey Carlson.
BEST OF SHOW COMBO: Ken & Barb Fisher.