The 8th annual Guilty By Association Truck Show (GBATS) was, like every other year, a record-breaker! Each year, this show grows, and just when you thought it couldn’t get any bigger or better, it does. With a whopping 518 trucks, spread out across the 4 State Trucks property (and beyond) in Joplin, Missouri, this event was definitely one for the record books. Hosted by “Bossman” Bryan Martin and his family, owners of 4 State Trucks, along with a bunch of dedicated workers and volunteers, they took great care of everyone – like they always do!
This little shin-dig began as a customer appreciation event but, over the years, it has blossomed into one of America’s premier truck shows. We are proud to have been a part of each and every one these events, and wonder where it will all go from here. Bryan and his crew always have a few surprises up their sleeves, so you never know quite what to expect – but we always expect to have a good time. And this year was no different.
The official dates for the show were September 23-24, but the fun always begins a day early, when 4 State hosts their VIP dinner and get-together the night before for all of the truck show participants, vendors and sponsors in attendance. Hundreds of people packed their body shop and installation area to enjoy the delicious meal, some vendor giveaways and “barstool go kart” races. After that, it was time to try to get some sleep, in preparation for the next day.
On Friday morning the show officially opened – and the fun began. Throughout the day, a lot was happening. As if walking around and drooling over all of the amazing trucks on the lot was not enough, there were also big rig burnouts (including a special exhibition by Tyrone Malone’s old famous “Super Boss” race truck from the 1970s), shop tours (which gave attendees a guided tour of 4 States’ fabrication shop, body shop, warehouse and more), vendor exhibitions and demos (all sorts of stuff, including a live demo of the famous Bounty Hunter show truck), a Kids Zone (with inflatables and other fun things for the kids to do), a 1st annual swap meet (where people could buy old truck parts or bring something to sell), and plenty of good food and drinks to sample.
As the sun began to set on the first day, it was time to head across the street for the world-class truck and tractor pull. But before that began, the Martin family handed out their annual Larry Martin Memorial Award, which went to singer, songwriter and truck driver Tony Justice. Then, there was a stunt show including several motorcycle riders and a “Globe of Death” cage they rode circles in – it was pretty wild! Every year, Bryan creates some sort of interesting “press box” for the tractor pull – a place for him and the other announcers to sit during the event. This year, it was a 22-foot Sun Tracker pontoon boat (party barge) lifted about 20 feet in the air. As always, it was hillbilly deluxe, baby!
Once the truck and tractor pull began, it was time to plug your ears and cheer for your favorites. With all sorts of classes and many different types of pulling machines, including working and non-working big rigs, of course, it was a great time. When it was all said and done, after the last truck made its way down the track, there was a five-minute fireworks display for everyone to enjoy.
Saturday morning came fast, and it was another perfect day, like Friday, filled with many of the same entertainment options (during one of the big rig burnout exhibitions on Saturday afternoon, one of the truck’s tires blew out, creating a little added excitement). There was also a pancake breakfast, a kids pedal tractor pull (complete with their own grandstands this year), and a live auction for the first few positions in the charity convoy, which was happening later that afternoon. After the top spots were auctioned off for the convoy, a few awards were handed out, including the People’s Choice Best Bobtail, which went to Fleenor Bros. for their “Ace in the Hole” black Kenworth W900L, and the People’s Choice Best Combo, which went to Michael Manuel and his “One of Many”
Autism awareness blue Peterbilt 389.
At about 5:00 p.m., it was time to start lining-up for the charity truck convoy heading into downtown Joplin to close-out the show with a street party and a concert by Tony Justice. Held for the past few years to benefit the Special Olympics of Southwest Missouri, this convoy has drawn record numbers every year – and this year was no exception. With 403 trucks participating in the convoy and over $102,000 raised, it was another truly heartwarming and successful event. Once everyone got into the downtown area, they turned on their lights and parked their rigs all over, creating an amazing truck display for the entire community to appreciate.
Tony Justice took the stage (a flatbed trailer parked on the street) at about 8:30 p.m. and closed-out the show, but before he finished, there was one more surprise. Kristi-Leigh Barbera of DPF Regeneration, a company that specializes in cleaning diesel particulate filters, came up on the stage with Bryan Martin a presented him with a $5,000 donation to Special Olympics.
“This was a weekend for the record books! Hot sunny weather… over 500 trucks… 1000s of customers and friends gathered here at Exit 4 – which all made for a TON of fun,” said Bryan Martin, owner of 4 State Trucks. Martin also added, “Joplin truly is a trucking town, and you could see it in the huge crowd of attendees on Friday and Saturday. We want to thank each and every one who set foot on the show grounds – all of the participants, attendees, vendors and staff. The laid back vibe and sense of camaraderie at the show was incredible! Great job!!”
And with that, the 8th annual GBATS was over. If you missed it this year, we hope to see you in Joplin, MO next year for the 9th annual event. Who knows what Bryan will have up his sleeve for 2017 – but whatever it is, we’re sure it will be great!