What happens in Vegas is supposed to stay in Vegas – unless it gets blown out of town by the wind. Such was the case for the Las Vegas Semi-Truck Show & Races on April 22, 2017. Planning for this event, which was put on by the folks at the Southern Nevada Chapter of ATHS (American Truck Historical Society) and Nostalgia Street Rods, we knew in advance that it might be hot and windy, but nothing prepared us for the 50+ mph gusts! Held in the parking lot and the “Bullring” at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, this was not a first-ever show, but it was the first time they welcomed new and working trucks (it was previously just an antique truck show), along with hot rods, classic pickups and motorcycles.
Leaving southern California a day early to get settled in for the weekend, we had a strong head-wind the entire way, which set the tone for the weekend. It goes without saying that this Las Vegas show, produced by Sheri Goldstrum of Nostalgia Street Rods, got the attention of so many when it was announced that the local ATHS chapter was stepping-up their game by adding some cash awards, as well as a full day of racing, to the event. The Bullring was in full swing throughout the day with a variety of different types of racing to enjoy – they even had races with front-wheel-drive cars, equipped with skid-plates for rear tires, slipping and sliding through the corners. We could only wonder how they stayed on the track (well, some didn’t).
Out in the truck show parking lot were 110 older and newer trucks, along with 70 beautiful pick-ups and hot rods, and a few cool motorcycles, as well. With the wind blowing out of the north, it made for a “hold down everything” scenario for vendors like us, and the others, which included Stay Loaded Apparel, Renegade, Big Strappers Apparel, Zephyr Polish and a few more, but that didn’t stop the fun – there was even a guy out there on the lot pinstriping trucks! We also had the pleasure of having Gayle Jeffries of Double JJ Enterprises ride along with us to help in our booth.
The license plates on the trucks parked on the lot proved that participants had “blown in” from several different states. Some of our friends (and past cover truckers) in attendance included the Talley Trucking crew, Stan Alles, Harm Speerstra, Robert Campbell, Lil’ Ray Rodriquez, Phil Miller and the Van Dyke boys. Some of these folks brought trucks, while others just came to look at everyone else’s. Jake and Stephanie Robak brought out their “End of Watch” tribute truck to fallen police officers, which we featured last month, and turned a lot of heads. The guys from Welder Up, a well-known customization shop based out of Las Vegas that builds rat rods, brought out several of their unique creations, including an old Diamond T flatbed, a 1995 Peterbilt, a White with another rat rod on its back, and a heavily-lifted and “ratted-out” silver Dodge Charger.
The judges took their notes on their scorecards and produced some happy winners in all the divisions. With a total purse of $6,000 up for grabs in the semi-truck classes and another $1,000 to split up for the pick-ups, the crowd began to gather for the sunset ceremony. Lil’ Ray Rodriquez and his “Wicked” purple Peterbilt from Salinas, CA took home the Best of Show honors, along with a $3,000 check (to help pay for the polishing crew), in the semi-truck class, while Scott Robinson took top honors (and $600) in the pick-up class for his 1932 Ford. Handing out the awards and trophies was done by none other than Ms. Clark County herself, Kae Crede.
As the truck show wound down, the racing in the Bullring heated up. Among many auto races, the night culminated with a truck race featuring rigs from the “North American Big Rig Racing” series. After getting their tune-ups dialed-in and topping off their fuel tanks, they headed out to see who could blow around the track for 30 laps the fastest and take home the trophy and bragging rights. These racers are all from Canada, where there is only a small handful of worthy tracks, so they race on an 8-track circuit, primarily in the Pacific Northwest, and blew into Vegas, on this third occasion, to conquer the 3/8-mile paved oval, reaching speeds in excess of 85 mph. A few years back, when the national ATHS show was in Yakima, WA, we witnessed a great race by many of these same folks on the half-mile track there, where the truck speeds reached 100 mph!
With the truck race complete, the long Saturday event was just about done, with exception to a last-minute late-night light show, happening back out in the parking lot. All in all, this was a really good event, thanks to the dedicated work of people like Sheri Goldstrum. We hope that we can all get together next year and do it again. What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas – unless the wind is blowing. In that case, you just might get “blown away” to who knows where!
SEMI-TRUCKS: 1st “Lil’ Ray” Rodriquez, 2015 Peterbilt; 2nd Brady Jensen, 2014 Peterbilt; 3rd Quality Material Transport, 2003 Peterbilt.
ANTIQUE TRUCKS (1988 & OLDER): 1st Valley Bulk, 1952 Peterbilt; 2nd Robinson Transport, 1956 Kenworth; 3rd Terry Donham, 1953 Mack.
BEST “WORKING CLASS” TRUCK: Aaron Bode, 2014 Peterbilt.
BEST INTERIOR: Stephanie & Jake Robak, 2006 Peterbilt.
ATHS PICK: Ken Talley, 1979 KW.
BARRY MEGUIAR’S PICK: Casey Allen, 1977 Kenworth.
PICKUP TRUCKS: 1st Scott Robinson, 1932 Ford; 2nd Yancey & Serita Taylor, 1966 Chevy; 3rd CJ Morley, 1956 Chevy.