With truck show season in full swing across the country, it was time to blow into Huron, South Dakota to attend the 13th annual Wheel Jam 2016 truck show hosted by 18 Wheel Truck Promotions. With windy and stormy conditions forecast throughout the weekend of June 3rd-5th, 2016, at the South Dakota State Fairgrounds, it was definitely a hang onto your hat event.
With many trucks arriving on Thursday to get washed up and parked, an evening BBQ was a welcome sight at the home of Scot Marone, producer and host of the show. The grill was fired up and rib-eyes with all the fixings were served to satisfy the hunger pains. For dessert, we were served up some live music, as well. The highlight of the night was when “Lil Ray” Rodriquez, at Wheel Jam all the way from California, was asked to bring his now-legendary “Wicked” Peterbilt and park in Scot’s driveway to, in effect, have a little light show preview. It was a great way to kick-start the pre-show events.
The gates opened early on Friday to allow vendors and truckers a chance to park, set-up and hang on, as the wind was blowing strong out of the north. Having just attended a big antique truck show in Salem, Oregon, the previous weekend, our friends and traveling partners from Stay Loaded Apparel were on-location with their new trailer full of t-shirts and our 10-4 Magazines. It was the trailer that acted as a wind block and allowed us both to display without too much trouble. With Scot and his volunteers sorting out the truck traffic, the fairgrounds filled up quickly with all kinds of cool rigs.
As in the past, it seemed like the front row of vendors created a California alley of sorts, with Dynaflex, Stay Loaded Apparel and 10-4 all coming out from sunny Southern California, along with Lil Ray’s four beautiful rides from Salinas, California, a few hundred miles north of Los Angeles, all lined-up and on display for everyone to enjoy. With his trucks polished to the max and his award-winning combos (past cover trucks) in line next to us, we witnessed the debut of his newest truck, his blue “Uno Mas” rig, which was a real crowd-stopper. The cameras were clicking in the wind as the show’s attendance saw a very good turnout. Over on the other side of the fairgrounds, the “Battle of the Bands” was taking place on the Freedom Stage, as the pretty sunset was disappearing in the west. The night stayed alive into the wee hours of the morning, as many were dancing on the improvised dance floor.
The Wheel Jam schedule for Saturday was full of good stuff for all to enjoy. Wanna take a helicopter ride in nearly gale-force winds? Our friend Ali Zangeneh, formerly with Lincoln Chrome but now out of the trucking industry, went up in the helicopter from Lake Superior Helicopters of Duluth, MN and got some cool aerial shots for us. A more sensible option was to stake your spot early for the late morning parade through the downtown and surrounding avenues to and from the fairgrounds. What an awesome time to see the hot rods, classic cars and semis grab the town’s attention, as many in attendance were parked along the route.
Shortly after the parade through town, the Jake Brake competition got underway. Attempting to register the highest decibel reading, recorded at a fixed point during a drive by, the winner’s rig screamed out a whopping 132 decibels. One could only wonder if it could get any louder – but we’re sure it will next year! Other activities that were in full swing included carnival rides and games, a dyno (for the pickup owners looking for bragging rights), an Icehouse Showdown, a car and motorcycle Show N’ Shine, a bean bag toss tournament, a backyard BBQ with People’s Choice public tasting, and even a Challenge Cup stock car race late into the night. And, of course, more live bands on the Freedom Stage. As usual, Wheel Jam 2016 seemed to have it all!
For all of those who didn’t wake up until noon on Sunday, you weren’t alone, but the show must go on as the Fairgrounds (and the wind) were again hopping in all directions. Mid-morning the trucks were judged, which set the tone for a walk in the park, as the awards were only a few hours away. The competition was fierce, as usual, but later, during the awards, it seemed that one couple was getting a little more exercise than usual, walking up to accept trophies, one after another. Lil Ray and Suzie Rodriquez, who were en-route from Salinas, California to the Shell SuperRigs in Joplin, MO, made a stop in Huron, SD after hearing about how much fun it was, looking to witness first-hand some of that Midwest hospitality – and they did! They told us that it was a great show, and one they would remember for a lifetime.
We would like to thank Scot Marone for letting us in on a good time, as always. His crew of volunteers are the backbone of the event, as we are always well-taken care of for everything. Such a nice family of friends for years to come. Mark your calendars for next year – we will post the exact dates on our calendar as soon as they are available. With lots of wheels in motion, and wind, Wheel Jam 2016 took it to another level. This event just keeps getting bigger and better. We hope to see you there in 2017.
EDITOR’S NOTE: We’d like to thank our friend Ali Zangeneh for providing some of the photos for this report.
SHOW ‘N’ SHINE WINNERS (GIVEN OUT SATURDAY NIGHT): 1) Ray & Suzy Rodriquez/Lil Ray’s Transport, Salinas, CA; 2) Chris Pritchard, Langdon, ND; 3) Mike Syrstad/Midland Contracting, Huron, SD; 4) Tory Joe Jacobson, St. Joseph, MO; 5) Levi Fawcett, Wolsey, SD; 6) Scott Ptacek/Tralo, Owatonna, MN; 7) Charlie Bates, Goodman, MO; 8) David Leber, Vale, SD; 9) Rick Sinks/A & R Trucking, Bridgeport, NE; 10) Wally Wenzlatt/Western Enterprises, Custer, SD.
BOBTAIL (1974 & OLDER): 1st Dan & Doug Jones, Ipswich, SD; 2nd Dale Melin, Sioux Falls, SD; 3rd Jim Johnson, Clark, SD.
BOBTAIL (1975-1979): 1st Paul Mergens, Ham Lake, MN; 2nd Wally Wenzlaff/Western Enterprises, Custer, SD.
BOBTAIL (1980-1989): 1st Andy Anderson/Seagon Transport, Rowena, SD; 2nd Brandon Syrstad/Midland Contracting, Huron, SD; 3rd Wayne & Pearl Holt, Aberdeen, SD.
BOBTAIL (1990-1994): 1st Mike Hiles, Wolsey, SD; 2nd Cutler Laube, Bryant, SD.
BOBTAIL (1995-1999): 1st Ray & Suzy Rodriquez/Lil Ray’s Transport, Salinas, CA; 2nd Kurt Seymour, Mellette, SD; 3rd Dave Leber, Vale, SD.
BOBTAIL (2000-2004): 1st Doug Perkins, Le Center, MN; 2nd Joe Yerby, Fittstown, OK; 3rd Tory Joe Jacobson, St. Joseph, MN.
BOBTAIL (2005-2009): 1st Corwin Koehn, Paxton, NE; 2nd Kirby Kuehn, Wabasso, MN; 3rd Mark Volk, Ipswich, SD.
BOBTAIL (2010-2013): 1st North Central Farmers Elevator, Redfield, SD; 2nd Allan Haak/James River, Huron, SD.
BOBTAIL (2014 & NEWER): 1st Tim & Heidi Seurer, Hoven, SD; 2nd Eric Weber, Lakota, ND; 3rd Levi Kleinsasser/Vern’s Mfg., Wessington, SD.
TRACTOR-TRAILER (1980 & OLDER): 1st Charlie Bates, Goodman, MT; 2nd Rory Cook/AK Livestock, Odell, NE; 3rd Doug & Gary French, Cavour, SD.
TRACTOR-TRAILER (1990-1994): 1st Ray & Suzy Rodriquez/Lil Ray’s Transport, Salinas, CA; 2nd Heath Wallenberg, Ellsworth, MN; 3rd Brett Eichstadt, Huron, SD.
TRACTOR-TRAILER (1995-1999): 1st David Leber, Vale, SD; 2nd Jerry Rudy, St. Joseph, MN; 3rd Brad Parsons, Miles City, MT.
TRACTOR-TRAILER (2000-2004): 1st Cameron/Quandt Transport, Omaha, NE; 2nd Ray & Suzy Rodriquez/Lil Ray’s Transport, Salinas, CA; 3rd Neal Mosel/West Hodson, Plainview, NE.
TRACTOR-TRAILER (2005-2009): 1st Michael Wallace, Ashville, AL; 2nd Tyler Van Der Zwaag, Hull, IA; 3rd Rikh Dhaliwal/Jade Transport, Winnipeg, MB (Canada).
TRACTOR-TRAILER (2010-2013): 1st Kyle Hennings/Heather Hermstad, Hartley, IA; 2nd Chris Erickson/Mike Hiles, Wolsey, SD.
TRACTOR-TRAILER (2014 & NEWER): 1st Robbie Christiansen/Cronin Farms, Hawarden, IA; 2nd Scott Mette/Habeck Truck, Bell Fairche, SD; 3rd Charlie Roselwal, Hartley, IA.
SPECIALTY CLASS: 1st Jake Robak/Robak Auto, Rice, MN; 2nd Ben Budde, Avon, MN.
DYNAMIC ENGINE BRAKE COMPETITION: 1st Scott Ptacek/Tralo, Owatonna, MN; 2nd Dustin Guthmiller, Aberdeen, SD.
BEST CABOVER: Brandon Syrstad/Midland Contracting, Huron, SD.
BEST LIMITED MILEAGE NON-WORKING BOBTAIL: Scott Ptacek/Tralo, Owatonna, MN.
BEST LIMITED MILEAGE NON-WORKING COMBO: Ray & Suzy Rodriquez/Lil Ray’s Transport, Salinas, CA.
BEST INTERIOR (DRIVER’S CHOICE): Michael Wallace, Ashville, AL.
BEST LIGHT SHOW BOBTAIL (DRIVER’S CHOICE): Jake Robak, Rice, MN.
BEST LIGHT SHOW COMBO (DRIVER’S CHOICE): Ray & Suzy Rodriquez/Lil Ray’s Transport, Salinas, CA.
BEST FLEET: Ray & Suzy Rodriquez/Lil Ray’s Transport, Salinas, CA.
BEST BULL RACK: Charlie Roselawl, Hartley, IA.
BEST VAN REEFER COMBO: Cameron/Quandt Transport, Omaha, NE.
BEST OF SHOW BOBTAIL: Ray & Suzy Rodriquez/Lil Ray’s Transport, Salinas, CA.
BEST OF SHOW COMBO: Ray & Suzy Rodriquez/Lil Ray’s Transport, Salinas, CA.