Overcoming challenges and pressure from the OEMs, this year’s Mid-America Trucking Show, held March 31-April 2, 2016 at the Kentucky Expo Center in Louisville, KY, once again proved that it is the grand-daddy of trucking events. And, outside the show in the back parking lot, the Paul K. Young (PKY) Truck Beauty Championships did not disappoint, either.
Arriving a few days early so we could get set up and settled in, we stepped off the plane on Tuesday afternoon and were welcomed with nice, warm, sunny weather (you just never know what to expect at Louisville in March). The following day, we set up our booth and enjoyed some quality time with our trucker friends outside, as they prepared their trucks for the competition.
After the sun set, it was time for the light show. Myself, Erik (Big E) and Mike Horan from RoadWorks were in charge of taking the pictures. Wow, what a nice night it was! The trucks looked great and we barely needed a light sweatshirt to keep warm (in past years, it has been freezing out there at night taking those pictures). But, having been watching the weather reports all week, we knew some rain was on the way.
Thursday morning came fast, and it was time for the show to open. As predicted, it was raining outside, so we decided to just stay in the booth for most of the day and visit with all of our friends who stopped by. As in past years, we had a great group of people helping us out in our booth. Big thanks go out to Jim, Jed, Josh, Renee, Carson, and Marion (the “Booth Boss”) for running the booth during the entire show.
After the show closed on Thursday, we headed over to the Texas Roadhouse restaurant for our annual “10-4 Dinner” with some of our friends, advertisers and helpers. This year there were 21 of us, including some of our friends from K & N Filters and Stay Loaded Apparel, as well as a few of our contributors (Ciara Sleeth and Kim Grimm), and our trucker and new ChampTruck racer and friend Chris Kikelhan, who’s old KW just happens to be on the cover this month. It may not be the fanciest of dinners, but we always have a fantastic time with our great people!
On Friday, with good intentions to spend some time outside and take some pictures, the show was just too busy for us to leave the booth much. We did, however, get a chance to walk the North Wing, which is the building where our booth is located, and got to see a lot of our current advertisers – and meet a few new ones, too.
Later that day, we ventured into the big South Hall to see how the show was handling the fact that every major North American OEM had decided to “sit out” the show for the year (these OEMs wanted MATS to switch to an every other year schedule, but show management did not want to do that). Admittedly, the South Hall was pretty decimated, but show management did their best to fill in the vacant spaces and, for the most part, did a good job. For us, the absence of the OEMs did not impact our show – we still went through all of our magazines and posters, and were still super busy the entire three days.
Once the show closed on Friday evening, we headed to “Fourth Street Live” downtown to attend a fun party hosted by Fitzgerald Glider Kits and Dynaflex. Held at “The Tavern on Fourth” for the entire evening, the event took up the whole upstairs area of the place – which was a big space. Featuring free food and drinks all night, folks played billiards, darts, cornhole and various other games, or just sat at the bar and talked with their friends. It was a really nice time. We would like to thank Cory at Dynaflex for inviting us to join in on all the fun.
Come Saturday morning, it was hard to believe, but it was already time for the awards ceremony. The trucking industry lost some good people lately, so Toby Young, President of Exhibit Management Associates, producers of the MATS event, read four pre-written memorial statements from the people close to those who had passed. Along with touching videos, memorials were read for Karen Zander, Jerry Jeffries, Michael Raines and Randy Rebillard. In addition to these four special memorials, the annual Jake Eilen Memorial Award was given to Rich Hart and his blue and white 2015 Peterbilt 389 and 2015 Mac dump trailer, and the new “Tired Iron” award, chosen and presented in honor of Randy Rebillard by his widow Jona, was given to our good friend and past cover trucker (December 2014) Clay Snider and his perfect cream and red 2007 Kenworth T600 and matching 2016 Western roll-top trailer. Needless to say, it was a tearful morning.
But not everything at the awards ceremony was sad – there were a lot of happy winners, as well. The prominent winners in the Limited Mileage classes included Bob Harley, whose dark purple 1972 Peterbilt 358 took home the Best of Show Bobtail trophy (along with tons of other awards), Brian Davis of Davis Bros., whose white and blue 2014 Peterbilt 386 (an aero truck) took home the Best of Show Combo trophy (and a few others), and Tanner Stroup, whose dark red and white 2016 Peterbilt 389 and polished 2014 Timpte trailer earned the Best Paint, Best Lights Combo, and RoadWorks’ special “Best Use of Chrome Combo” awards.
In the Working Truck classes, the biggest winners were Jon Donadio, whose bright green 2003 Kenworth W900 and polished East end dump earned the Best of Show trophy in the Dump Combo class, David Foster, whose maroon and white 2005 Kenworth W900 took the Best of Show Bobtail award, and Chad Berry, whose super-clean black and purple 2012 Peterbilt 386 (yes, another aero truck) took home the big iron in the Working Combo class.
Other popular trucks that took home a lot of accolades included Cliff King’s gold 2014 Pete 386 and matching 2006 Wabash dry van, Keith Smart’s white and orange 2015 Peterbilt 389, Eric Holthaus’ classic black and white 1985 Peterbilt 359, and John Jaike’s decked-out purple 1999 Kenworth W900 and matching 2005 Utility trailer. But, the most impressive win went to Sean McEndree Sr. and his “Purple Heart Tribute Truck” – a purple 2006 Peterbilt 379 – that took home the coveted People’s Choice award.
Although he did not win any 1st place awards (except for the Rockwood “Runnin’ Late” award), Jonathan Eilen’s hot rod Pete is worth a mention, for sure. Starting out as a normal 1990 Peterbilt 379, the Eilen boys chopped the top and did a ton of other custom fabrication to this white, orange and black beast. Even the brake drums on this truck were painted and pinstriped, and included their now-famous catch-phrase “Built Not Bought” painted on them, which you could see through the holes in the wheels. It was a very nice touch.
We would also like to acknowledge and congratulate our longtime contributor Kim Grimm, who brought out her black 2007 “Dark Angel” Pete 379 and matching 2008 polished stainless Utility spread-axle, to compete in the competition. It was her first time back, after over 10 years, to compete at MATS with her own truck, and it was a big accomplishment for her to be there. She didn’t win any awards, but she had a lot of fun.
This show, like so many of them, is like a family reunion every year. We see so many old friends, and make a ton of new ones, too. This year, we even got to meet a guy who was the inspiration for one of Vic Vasselin’s Truckertoons (see photo). We would like to thank each and every one who came by the booth to visit and had nice things to say about the magazine. We would also like to thank Fernando at Stay Loaded Apparel for bringing our two pallets of “stuff” to the show all the way from California.
Next year’s show is slated for March 23-25, and it will be interesting to see how all of this OEM drama unfolds. But, with or without these big exhibitors, we are sure that the 2017 MATS will be a great event – just like it has been for the past 45 years. We hope to see you there! And the 2016 winners were:
WORKING BOBTAIL (1999-2008): 1st David D. Foster, 2005 Kenworth W900L; 2nd Corey A. Stouter, 2006 Peterbilt 379; 3rd Aaron Spiniolas, 2003 Peterbilt 379.
WORKING BOBTAIL (2009-2016): 1st Sid Calangelo, 2015 Kenworth W900L; 2nd Felicia Berggren, 2015 Kenworth T680; 3rd Scott A. Lynch, 2010 Mack CHU613.
WORKING COMBO (1991-2006): 1st Kenny Fisher, 1997 Pete 379 & 2015 Reitnouer; 2nd Larry Wheeler, 2004 Pete 379 & 2016 Polar; 3rd John Jaikes, 1999 KW W900L & 2005 Utility.
WORKING COMBO (2007-2016): 1st Cliff King, 2014 Peterbilt 386 & 2006 Wabash Dry Van; 2nd Chad Berry, 2012 Peterbilt 386 & 2017 Mac; 3rd Clay Snider, 2007 Kenworth T600 & 2016 Western Rolltop.
WORKING COMBO (COMPANY-OWNED): 1st Jeff Bolstad, 2016 Peterbilt 579 & 2016 Benson Step Deck; 2nd Alonzo Sykes, 2016 Peterbilt Pride & Class & 2016 Great Dane.
NEW TRUCK BOBTAIL: 1st Keith Smart Jr., 2015 Peterbilt 389; 2nd Tom Hylton, 2016 Peterbilt 389; 3rd Bill Long, 2016 Pete 389.
NEW TRUCK COMBO: 1st Brian R. Fretwell, 2016 Kenworth W900L & 2015 Mac Flatbed; 2nd Craig Zeller, 2017 Freightliner Cascadia & 2017 Utility 3000R; 3rd Ron St. Clair Jr., 2016 Peterbilt 389 & 2016 Cottrell Car Hauler.
FIRST SHOW BOBTAIL: 1st Marty Colvin, 1986 Pete 359; 2nd Tom Clark, 2014 Peterbilt 389; 3rd Joe Harrell, 2014 Kenworth T880.
FIRST SHOW COMBO: 1st Justin Congdon, 2005 Peterbilt 379 & 2017 Mov-All; 2nd David Hathaway, 2003 Kenworth K100 & 2006 Great Dane; 3rd Michael Adams, 2014 Kenworth T660 & 1999 Trailmobile.
ANTIQUE (CUSTOM): 1st Eric Holthaus, 1985 Pete 359; 2nd Chris Kikelhan, 1956 Kenworth 925; 3rd David McKinney, 1986 Peterbilt 359.
ANTIQUE (ORIGINAL): 1st Nate Mason, 1987 Kenworth K100; 2nd Larry R. Vogel, 1986 GMC General; 3rd Bruce Capehart, 1986 Mack.
WORKING DUMP COMBO: 1st (BEST OF SHOW) Jon Donadio, 2003 Kenworth W900 & 2017 East Frameless Dump; 2nd Bill Jr. & Cody Warner, 1987 Peterbilt 359 & 2017 Mac Dump; 3rd Chad Smith, 2015 Peterbilt 389 & 2016 East Dump Train.
WORKING INTERIOR (CAB ONLY): 1st Chad Berry, 2012 Peterbilt 386 & 2017 Mac Quick Draw; 2nd Justin D. Mosser, 2004 Peterbilt 379; 3rd Bill Long, 2016 Peterbilt 389.
WORKING INTERIOR (OEM SLEEPER & CAB): 1st Sean McEndree Sr., 2006 Peterbilt 379; 2nd Eric Holthaus, 1985 Peterbilt 359; 3rd David D. Foster, 2005 Kenworth W900L.
WORKING INTERIOR (AFTERMARKET): 1st Cliff King, 2014 Peterbilt 386 & 2006 Wabash Dry Van.
WORKING ENGINE: 1st Keith Smart Jr., 2015 Peterbilt 389; 2nd Chad Berry, 2012 Peterbilt 386 & 2017 Mac Quick Draw; 3rd Clay Snider, 2007 Kenworth T600 & 2016 Western Rolltop.
WORKING BOBTAIL PAINT: 1st Eric Holthaus, 1985 Peterbilt 359; 2nd Aaron Spiniolas, 2003 Peterbilt 379; 3rd Scott A. Lynch, 2010 Mack.
WORKING COMBO PAINT: 1st Kenny Fisher, 1997 Pete 379 & 2015 Reitnouer; 2nd Jon Donadio, 2003 KW W900 & 2017 East Dump; 3rd Chad Berry, 2012 Pete 386 & 2017 Mac.
WORKING BOBTAIL LIGHTS: 1st Keith Smart Jr., 2015 Peterbilt 389; 2nd Tom Hylton, 2016 Peterbilt 389; 3rd Will Nagy, 2016 Peterbilt 389.
WORKING COMBO LIGHTS: 1st John Jaikes, 1999 Kenworth W900L & 2005 Utility; 2nd Randy & Missy Victory, 1999 Peterbilt 379 & 2013 Timpte Hopper Dump; 3rd Justin Congdon, 2005 Peterbilt 379 & 2017 Mov-All.
LIMITED MILEAGE BEST INTERIOR: Brian Davis, 2014 Peterbilt 386 & 2016 Wilson Hopper.
LIMITED MILEAGE BEST ENGINE: Bob Harley, 1972 Peterbilt 358.
LIMITED MILEAGE BEST PAINT (BOBTAIL): Bob Harley, 1972 Peterbilt 358.
LIMITED MILEAGE BEST PAINT (COMBO): Tanner Stroup, 2016 Pete 389 & 2014 Timpte.
LIMITED MILEAGE BEST LIGHTS (BOBTAIL): Bob Harley, 1972 Peterbilt 358.
LIMITED MILEAGE BEST LIGHTS (COMBO): Tanner Stroup, 2016 Pete 389 & 2014 Timpte.
ROADWORKS “BEST USE OF CHROME” (BOBTAIL): Marty Colvin, 1986 Peterbilt 359.
ROADWORKS “BEST USE OF CHROME” (COMBO): Tanner Stroup, 2016 Peterbilt 389 & 2014 Timpte.
ROCKWOOD’S “RUNNIN’ LATE” AWARD: Jonathan Eilen, 1990 Peterbilt 379.
JAKE EILEN MEMORIAL AWARD: Rich Hart, 2015 Peterbilt 389 & 2015 Mac Dump.
THE “TIRED IRON” AWARD (IN MEMORY OF RANDY REBILLARD): Clay Snider, 2007 Kenworth T600 & 2016 Western Rolltop.
LIMITED MILEAGE BOBTAIL: 1st (BEST OF SHOW) Bob Harley, 1972 Peterbilt 358; 2nd Jonathan Eilen, 1990 Peterbilt 379; 3rd Doug Jameson, 2015 Pete 389; 4th Casey Conrey, 1991 Mack RD686; 5th Chris Tidey, 1998 Freightliner FLB100.
LIMITED MILES COMBO: 1st (BEST OF SHOW) Brian Davis, 2014 Peterbilt 386 & 2016 Wilson Hopper; 2nd Tanner Stroup, 2016 Peterbilt 389 & 2014 Timpte; 3rd Rich Hart, 2015 Peterbilt 389 & 2015 Mac Frameless Dump; 4th Michael Manuel, 2015 Peterbilt 389 & 2015 Mac Curtainside; 5th Jay Hawthorne, 2015 Peterbilt 389 & 2015 Wabash.
BEST OF SHOW WORKING BOTAIL: David D. Foster, 2005 Kenworth W900L.
BEST OF SHOW WORKING COMBO: Chad Berry, 2012 Peterbilt 386 & 2017 Mac.
PEOPLE’S CHOICE: Sean McEndree Sr., 2006 Peterbilt 379 (Purple Heart Tribute Truck).