Our third stop on the truck show “Western Swing” took us to the Great American Trucking Show (GATS) in Dallas, Texas on August 27-29, where it was “rags down” on the 2014/2015 Pride & Polish truck beauty competition season. In addition to the showdown for the National Championships, the 2015/2016 season began at the show, so five hard-working truckers have already qualified to compete in next year’s National Championships. But, with 75 amazing trucks inside the convention center, you can bet that the competition was fierce!
After arriving in Dallas early Wednesday afternoon and then setting up our booth, we headed out to Terrell, Texas for a private party hosted by our friends at The Tipton Agency (Robert Russell, Tim Mosley and Nathan Klepper) for one of their customers, who just happens to be one of our longtime advertisers, as well (Ruben Mangiaterra and Chris Bischoff of United Pacific). Thanks to their amazing 25’ competition BBQ trailer, we all enjoyed some smoked pork ribs and sausages, along with some tasty sides. Although it was an hour drive out there, the friendship and food made it all worthwhile!
Thursday morning brought the official opening of the show. Walking around, we found a few new things. The GATS Theater made its debut this year in the center of the show. A large, semi-private area surrounded with black drapes, the theater offered live content and fun performances throughout the event, which included seminars, Overdrive’s “Most Beautiful” contest, which recognizes female drivers who stand out for image and professionalism (this year’s winner was Joanne Fatta), a trucker talent competition (the winner was Nate Moran), and the Pride & Polish awards ceremony.
Another new thing at this year’s show was a beer garden, featuring a different local craft brewery each day, with three beers on tap to sample and choose from. You can bet we did a little sampling, and some of it was really good.
Down the aisle from our booth, the Texas Chrome Shop booth was buzzing with activity. In addition to the pretty girls selling t-shirts and the videos of their TV shows running, there was an incredible 1980 Kenworth K-100 cabover in their booth that the Mendez boys (Raul Jr. and Roland) and their team built to honor their dad, Raul Mendez Sr. Called “Blue Eagle” (Raul’s old CB handle), this truck, in their eyes, represents the essence of the American dream. It was an awesome, over-the-top, all-custom rig.
Heading up the flight of stairs that leads to the upper section of the convention center, we found all sorts of stuff going on. RJ Taylor, with help from local law enforcement and some of his “Ask The Law” team, had the Safety Center going full-swing, answering questions about the rules and regulations. There was also a “Fit for the Road” Health and Wellness Pavilion where drivers could get free health screenings, healthy cooking tips, and watch fitness and educational demos. There was also a recruiting pavilion, for those looking for a new (or better) job.
One of the most exciting and talked about things at GATS this year was the Evel Knievel display in the Mack booth. Mack, in partnership with Historic Harley Davidson in Topeka, Kansas, and Lathan McKay of Evel Knievel Enterprises and collector of Knievel memorabilia, want to revive the motorcycle daredevil’s legacy through a traveling and permanent exhibit featuring thousands of Evel’s old items.
Mack provided two of their Pinnacle trucks to help transport the exhibit. A cornerstone of the exhibit was the fully restored 1974 Mack FS cabover known as “Big Red” that Knievel used as his show truck. The cabover, complete with red, white and blue interior to match Evel’s Americana theme, was discovered in a yard in Clearwater, Florida, before being brought to Topeka for restoration. Along with the restored cabover, the display featured Evel’s leathers, motorcycles, helmets, medical X-rays, casts and thousands of other cool items collected by McKay.
Thursday evening, right after the show closed for the day, the GATS producers hosted an exhibitor party and dinner in the lobby of the convention center featuring free beer and wine, a BBQ feast, and a free concert from the band LOCASH. After that, most people made their way back to their hotel rooms or over to The Owner’s Box bar at the Omni Hotel next to the convention center. You know where we went!
On Friday, things were a little quieter at the show, which gave us the opportunity to take pictures and do some talking. But, come Friday night, it was time to party with award-winning country star John Anderson, who played a free concert for GATS attendees in a ballroom at the convention center. Tony Justice, a truck driver and singer-songwriter, was the opening act for Anderson. Justice is a second generation truck driver with a passion for singing.
And, before we knew it, we were sitting in the GATS Theater on Saturday morning, waiting for the awards ceremony to begin. While we waited, Nate Moran, the winner of the trucker talent search the day before, played his guitar and sang some songs. He was good, too.
The awards ceremony began with a tribute to Randy Rebillard, featuring a slide-show of pictures from past shows, and a moment of silence. Randy lost his battle with cancer back in May of this year, and will be missed tremendously. After that, the awards were handed out, as well as some great prizes from the event sponsors.
About halfway through the awards, Todd Roccapriore won a new bumper from Lincoln Chrome, to which he immediately stood up and donated to Shane Boullion. On his way to the show, the front of Shane’s truck got clobbered at a truck stop just outside of town. Although his front end was all bent-up and smashed, he still decided to bring it into the show and compete. And, the judges did not hold it against him. His beautiful Dark Rose Grey Peterbilt 379 earned two 1st place trophies (his regular class and an interior class). How awesome is that!
Some of the big winners included Dustin Ballard and Jim Bob Cross with their black 1995 Peterbilt 379 with red stripes, which earned three 1st place trophies and the Best of Show Working Bobtail award. In the Working Combo class, Joe Regalado of Jarco Transport and his blue 2000 Peterbilt 379 with silver stripes and matching CTS dump trailer won two 1st place trophies, one 3rd place, and the Best of Show award.
Top finishers in the Limited Mileage class included Josh Skidmore of STS and his new 2016 yellow and white Peterbilt 389, which also took the Best Interior award, and Jordan Jay of Jay Transport with his orange and cream 2016 Pete 389 and matching 2016 Western flatbed, which got 1st place in both the Engine and Paint classes, as well. This year there was a new category called the Builder’s Class, and Israel Turner and his yellow 1979 Peterbilt 359 earned the Best of Show trophy in that class.
After the show came to an end and we packed up what was left of our booth, we went out for an incredible dinner with Bruce Mallinson of Pittsburgh Power and a few members of his team at Bob’s Steak & Chop House at the Omni Hotel. Wow, what a meal! These people really knew how to cook a steak. It was the perfect end to a fantastic truck show. But, there was no hanging around for us. We had to get back home the next day and start preparing for the fourth stop on our “Western Swing” tour in Fresno, CA the very next weekend. Look for that report in next month’s edition, along with a few others.
The winners at GATS in Dallas, Texas for 2015 were:
BOBTAIL (2000 & OLDER): 1st Dustin Ballard/Jim Bob Cross, Stigler, OK – 1995 Black and Red Peterbilt 379; 2nd Randy Victory, Jonesboro, AR – 1999 Black Flamed Peterbilt 379; 3rd David Kosar, Dallas, TX – 1996 Maroon Peterbilt 379.
BOBTAIL (2001-2010): 1st Shane Boullion, Carencro, LA – 2001 Dark Rose Grey Peterbilt 379; 2nd Alfredo Ramirez, Lenorah, TX – 2009 Purple and White Peterbilt 389; 3rd Jeremy Hebert, Larose, LA – 2005 Champagne and Teal Peterbilt 379.
BOBTAIL (2011 & NEWER): 1st Benjamin Cadle, Augusta, GA – 2013 White and Green Freightliner Coronado; 2nd Joel Dawes, Waterford, WI – 2014 Viper Red Kenworth T660; 3rd Billy Griffin/Lindamood Demolition, Irving, TX – 2012 Red and White Peterbilt 389.
NEW TRUCK (BOBTAIL): 1st Kyle Cousins, Carthage, MO – 2015 Purple Kenworth ICON 900; 2nd Ken Youngblood/Melton Truck Lines, Tulsa, OK – 2016 Blue Kenworth T680.
ANTIQUE (BOBTAIL): 1st Pablo Cuellar/David Schnautz, LaPorte, TX – 1973 Blue and White Kenworth K-125; 2nd Geo Cuellar/David Schnautz, LaPorte, TX – 1985 Blue and White Kenworth K100E; 3rd Wade Wardlaw, Woodville, TX – 1975 White and Copper Peterbilt 359.
FIRST SHOW (BOBTAIL): 1st Trent White/Brandon Reinart, Greenville, TX – 2007 Blue Peterbilt 379; 2nd Zebie Daniel III, Houston, TX – 1998 Daytona Sunrise Orange and Metallic Charcoal Gray International 9300 Eagle; 3rd Von Harris, Houston, TX – 1990 Red Peterbilt 379.
COMPANY TRUCK (BOBTAIL): 1st Charles Self/Certified Express, Neosho, MO – 2004 Red Peterbilt 379X; 2nd Michael Faram/Western Distributing Transportation, Denver, CO – 2015 Blue Peterbilt 389; 3rd Rogers Davis/Western Distributing Transportation, Denver, CO – 2015 Blue Peterbilt 389.
SPECIALIZED (BOBTAIL): 1st Lynn & Shelly Baxter/Magary Trucking, Jacksonville, FL – 2006 White Freightliner M2112; 2nd Bob & Linda Caffee, Silex, MO – 2015 White Freightliner Cascadia.
BUILDERS CLASS (BOBTAIL): 1st Israel Turner, West Point, MS – 1979 Yellow Peterbilt 359;* 2nd Robert Moneypenny, Shawnee, OK – 1998 Orange and Black Peterbilt 379.
LIMITED MILEAGE (BOBTAIL): 1st Josh Skidmore, Brigham City, UT – 2016 Yellow and White Peterbilt 389;* 2nd Scott Rud, Byron, MN – 2000 Silver and Red Peterbilt 379; 3rd Gerald Cruz, San Antonio, TX – 1999 Black and Orange Peterbilt 379.
COMBO (2003 & OLDER): 1st Marciano Sandoval/Lil Ray’s Transport, Salinas, CA – 1991 Lavender and Purple Peterbilt 379 and 2003 Fontaine Flatbed; 2nd Freddy Velasco, Sulphur Springs, TX – 2003 Purple and Cream Peterbilt 379 and 2003 Great Dane Reefer; 3rd Tommy Roach, Robert Lee, TX – 1999 White Peterbilt 379 and 2004 Wilson Combo Flatbed.
NEW TRUCK (COMBO): 1st Henry Lopez, San Antonio, TX – 2015 Green Peterbilt 389 and 2016 Armolite End Dump; 2nd Jeff Blue/Stevens Transport, Dallas, TX – 2016 Black Kenworth T680 and 2016 Utility Reefer; 3rd Dave Conkling/Werner Enterprises, Omaha, NE – 2016 Kenworth T680 and 2013 Wabash Van.
ANTIQUE (COMBO): 1st David Schnautz, LaPorte, TX – 1981 Blue and Silver Kenworth W900A and 1983 Wilson Livestock Trailer.
COMPANY TRUCK (COMBO): 1st Carl Wilson/Autobahn Transport Services, Rowlett, TX – 2015 Black Freightliner Coronado and 2007 Wabash Reefer; 2nd Donald Senegal/Clark Freight Lines, Pasadena, TX – 2009 Red Kenworth W900L.
SPECIALIZED (COMBO): 1st Joe Regalado, Von Ormy, TX – 2000 Blue Peterbilt 379 and 2016 CTS Sand Master; 2nd Crystal Murphy/Equipment Express, Caldwell, TX – 2007 Blue Peterbilt 379 and 2015 Timpte Super Hopper; 3rd Gilbert Velasquez/GoTex Trucking, Dallas, TX – 2000 White Peterbilt 379 and 2015 Great Dane Pups.
LIMITED MILEAGE (COMBO): 1st Jordon Jay, Rigby, ID – 2016 Orange and Cream Peterbilt 389 and 2016 Western Flatbed;* 2nd Randy Menkel/James & Malona Williams, Springfield, MO – 2013 Black Peterbilt 389 and 2015 Etnyre Detachable with Stinger; 3rd Barry Kasdorf/Jade Transport, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada – 2015 Green and White Peterbilt 389 and 2010 Brenner Tanker.
INTERIOR (CAB ONLY): 1st Dustin Ballard/Jim Bob Cross, Stigler, OK – 1995 Black and Red Peterbilt 379; 2nd (tie) Randy Victory, Jonesboro, AR – 1999 Black Flamed Peterbilt 379 AND Johnny Villanueva, San Antonio, TX – 2014 Green Peterbilt 389 and 2015 Armolite End Dump; 3rd Joel Dawes, Waterford, WI – 2014 Viper Red Kenworth T660.
INTERIOR (OEM SLEEPER): 1st Shane Boullion, Carencro, LA – 2001 Dark Rose Grey Peterbilt 379; 2nd Crystal Murphy/Equipment Express, Caldwell, TX – 2007 Blue Peterbilt 379 and 2015 Timpte Super Hopper; 3rd Marciano Sandoval/Lil Ray’s Transport, Salinas, CA – 1991 Lavender and Purple Peterbilt 379 and 2003 Fontaine Flatbed.
INTERIOR (CUSTOM SLEEPER): 1st Lynn & Shelly Baxter/Magary Trucking, Jacksonville, FL – 2006 White Freightliner M2112; 2nd Bob & Linda Caffee, Silex, MO – 2015 White Freightliner Cascadia.
BEST INTERIOR (LIMITED MILEAGE): Josh Skidmore, Brigham City, UT – 2016 Yellow and White Peterbilt 389.
PAINT (BOBTAIL): 1st Dustin Ballard/Jim Bob Cross, Stigler, OK – 1995 Black and Red Peterbilt 379; 2nd Alfredo Ramirez, Lenorah, TX – 2009 Purple and White Peterbilt 389; 3rd Lynn & Shelly Baxter/Magary Trucking, Jacksonville, FL – 2006 White Freightliner M2112.
PAINT (COMBO): 1st Marciano Sandoval/Lil Ray’s Transport, Salinas, CA – 1991 Lavender and Purple Peterbilt 379 and 2003 Fontaine Flatbed; 2nd (tie) Freddy Velasco, Sulphur Springs, TX – 2003 Purple and Cream Peterbilt 379 and 2003 Great Dane Reefer AND Johnny Villanueva, San Antonio, TX – 2014 Green Peterbilt 389 and 2015 Armolite End Dump; 3rd Joe Regalado, Von Ormy, TX – 2000 Blue Peterbilt 379 and 2016 CTS Sand Master.
BEST PAINT (LIMITED MILEAGE BOBTAIL): Robert Moneypenny, Shawnee, OK – 1998 Orange and Black Peterbilt 379.
BEST PAINT (LIMITED MILEAGE COMBO): Jordon Jay, Rigby, ID – 2016 Orange and Cream Peterbilt 389 and 2016 Western Flatbed.
ENGINE (WORKING TRUCK): 1st Joe Regalado, Von Ormy, TX – 2000 Blue Peterbilt 379 and 2016 CTS Sand Master; 2nd Dustin Ballard/Jim Bob Cross, Stigler, OK – 1995 Black and Red Peterbilt 379; 3rd Marciano Sandoval/Lil Ray’s Transport, Salinas, CA – 1991 Lavender and Purple Peterbilt 379 and 2003 Fontaine Flatbed.
BEST ENGINE (LIMITED MILEAGE): Jordon Jay, Rigby, ID – 2016 Orange and Cream Peterbilt 389 and 2016 Western Flatbed.
BEST OF SHOW (WORKING BOBTAIL): Dustin Ballard/Jim Bob Cross, Stigler, OK – 1995 Black and Red Peterbilt 379.*
BEST OF SHOW (WORKING COMBO): Joe Regalado, Von Ormy, TX – 2000 Blue Peterbilt 379 and 2016 CTS Sand Master.*
TRUCKER’S CHOICE (ONLINE VOTING): Mike Lemley, Mustang, OK – 2000 Viper Red Peterbilt 379.
2015 NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
OVERALL 2015 NATIONAL CHAMPION (LIMITED MILEAGE COMBO): Ray Rodriguez/Lil Ray Transport, Salinas, CA; 2015 Lavender & Purple Peterbilt 389/2015 Western Stepdeck – “Wicked”
OVERALL 2015 NATIONAL CHAMPION (LIMITED MILEAGE BOBTAIL): Todd Roccapriore, Hebron, CT; 1999 Black & Blue Peterbilt – “Disorderly Conduct”
OVERALL 2015 NATIONAL CHAMPION (WORKING COMBO): Phil Miller, Amargosa Valley, NV; 2010 Cream & Fudge Brown Peterbilt 389/2015 Wilson Livestock Trailer
OVERALL 2015 NATIONAL CHAMPION (WORKING BOBTAIL): Kiegan Nelson/Vinnie Diorio, Richfield, WI; 1985 2-tone Turquoise Peterbilt 359 – “Kickin’ It Old Skool
* Denotes a truck that has qualified to compete next year at GATS in the 2015/2016 National Championships