Virginia is the home and resting place of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, caretaker of Arlington National Cemetery, where Thanksgiving originated, provider of beautiful landscape and, this year, the chosen state for the 36th annual Shell Rotella SuperRigs Truck Beauty Contest. SuperRigs is the premier truck beauty contest for actively working trucks, where owners and operators from across the United States and Canada compete for cash and prizes, valued at approximately $25,000, in addition to vying for one of the twelve available spots in the following year’s Shell Rotella SuperRigs calendar.
This year’s event was held in the parking lot of White’s Travel Center, owned by Bobby Berkstresser, in Raphine, VA on June 14-16, 2018. This location provided easy access from the interstate, as well as all the amenities a driver would need. As one of the largest travel centers in the area, their amenities include a variety of restaurants, a truck repair shop and healthcare building, just to name a few. If you ever get the opportunity to stop at this location or their other location (LEE HI Travel Plaza in Lexington, VA), check out what they have to offer – and be sure to take in the view behind these properties.
I arrived in town the afternoon of Monday, June 11, wanting time to get settled into my hotel and to check out the location prior to any trucks arriving. Tuesday, June 12, had plenty of cloud cover and little to no sunshine, but once the trucks started rolling in to prep for the show, I got busy. Daniel and Phyllis Snow and their “The Goose” Freightliner Classic were one of the first to roll in, followed by a small convoy of Lanita Specialized trucks out of Pennsylvania, a couple Equipment Express heavy haul trucks from Texas, a few trucks owned by Bill Warner Jr. Trucking out of West Virginia, and Randy Manning of Randy Manning LLC out of Cross Junction, Virginia.
By Wednesday, June 13, plenty of beautiful rides were in attendance and, as always, it was nice to see trucks present from my home state of Wisconsin, including Brad Garetson of Rollin Transport and Kiegan Nelson of Jack C. Moss Trucking. Setup was near completion by the time I left the grounds on Wednesday evening, as the next day, Thursday the 14th, was the official beginning of the event.
Kicking-off day one, the vendor booths were up and running at 10:00 am, and included an opportunity to view the Shell Rotella Starship truck up-close and personal, and then Matt Hagan, NHRA funny car driver, unveiled his new car featuring his new sponsor (Shell Rotella). Live music started at noon and continued throughout the day featuring Keith Bryant, Rare Form, Red Hill Band and PG13. Fast forward to the evening, and spectators and competitors alike were out as the truck lights went on at dusk for the light show judging, followed by an awesome display of fireworks.
The “drive-through” judging continued on Friday as live bands including Dennis Thorne and Cross Eyed Cat played their tunes. Late that afternoon came the much-anticipated truck convoy to downtown Lexington. Three waves of convoys made their way down the interstate, destined to park along the street downtown. As spectators walked the street admiring the trucks, the band Soul Expressions provided great music and then, as the sun went down, Tony Justice took the stage downtown and the truck lights went on for a great scene and great music. With a relaxed atmosphere, there was plenty of conversation to be had and plenty of trucks to admire.
Saturday, June 16, was the last day of the show. Featuring live music throughout the day by Dennis Thorne, Jayne Dunham, Keith Bryant and Double Clutch, the day was capped off nicely with a performance by Honky Tonk Experience. At 3:00 pm, the awards were handed out to all this year’s winners and the calendar spot recipients were announced. The “Most Hard-Working Trucker” award went to William Warner of Seneca Rock, WV for his 1997 Peterbilt 379. James Rogers won the new “What Matters Is Inside” award, which honors drivers who have overcome hardships and challenges. Rogers is a disabled veteran who works with the St. Christopher Truckers Relief Fund to help drivers with illness or injury. But, the big award is always Best of Show, and this year it went to Eric Turner, Sr. of Ellenwood, GA. I first spotted Eric’s rig at the 2016 Fitzgerald Pride and Polish Show in Crossville, TN that year in July. It was a pretty exciting moment for this family, with humble gratitude and tears of joy.
Eric’s rig is a blue 2015 Peterbilt 389 with a 2018 Wally-Mo 8-Car Hauler. Along with the BOS trophy, Eric was awarded $10,000 from Shell Rotella and $5,000 from MAC trailer. Turner also won for Best Interior. “It feels so good to win the best of show,” said an emotional Eric Turner. “Like I said earlier, when I was in the judging lane, when I was growing up, all my dad ever had on his tool box was a Shell Rotella calendar. And he always said, ‘son one day, you’re going to be on that.’ I’ve never seen that vision, but I guess he’s seen it for me. My dad passed away last year. Thank you, Daddy.”
Sunday provided a beautiful day as I took a moment to breathe and think about everything that went on with the show. About 75 trucks were registered for the event and around 50 of them participated in the convoy Friday evening to downtown Lexington. Monday, June 18th, I started my journey home, appreciative to have been able to visit this beautiful state yet again and attend one of my favorite shows. I am already looking forward to next year, wondering where it will be held (stay tuned).
Congratulations to all the award winners and calendar spot recipients. Keep an eye out for the announcement when the calendars will be available. And, as always, to all the drivers out there doing the deal, truck safe. And this year’s winners were:
BEST ENGINE: Andrew Good, Bethel, PA (2016 Kenworth W900).
BEST LIGHTS: Randy Manning, Cross Junction, VA (2018 Kenworth W900L).
BEST CHROME: Randy Manning, Cross Junction, VA (2018 Kenworth W900L).
BEST THEME: Andrew Good, Bethel, PA (2016 Kenworth W900).
BEST INTERIOR: Eric Turner, Sr., Ellenwood, GA (2015 Pete 389 & 2018 Wally-Mo Car Hauler).
MOST HARD-WORKING TRUCKER: William Warner, Seneca Rocks, WV (1997 Pete 379).
WHAT MATTERS IS INSIDE AWARD: James A. Rodgers, Peverly, MO (2015 Freightliner Cascadia & 2019 Utility)
PEOPLE’S CHOICE: John George, Fairfield, PA (1974 Dodge C950 Bighorn).
SHOW TRUCK: 1st Michael Manuel, Front Royal, VA (2015 Peterbilt 389); 2nd Mark Hollen, Denver, PA (2013 Peterbilt 389); 3rd Leon Lloyd, Winchester, VA (2016 Peterbilt 389).
WORKING TRUCK (LIMITED MILEAGE): 1st Kaleb Hammett, Dodd City, TX (2017 Peterbilt 389); 2nd John T. Barker III, Malvern, PA (1997 Pete 379 & 1997 Streamliner); 3rd Richard Shrout, Augusta, WV (2018 Peterbilt 389).
CLASSIC: 1st Gerald Arthur Asbury, Sevierville, TN (1999 Kenworth W900L); 2nd Les Brown, Spring Hope, NC (1966 Kenworth W900A); 3rd John Byers, Montpelier, VA (1988 MAC Superliner).
BOBTAIL: 1st Andrew Good, Bethel, PA (2016 Kenworth W900); 2nd William Warner, Seneca Rocks, WV (1997 Peterbilt 379); 3rd Cody Warner, Elkins, WV (1987 Peterbilt 359).
COMBO: 1st Brad Garetson, Lake Mills, WI (2016 Peterbilt 389 & 2017 MAC); 2nd Brandon Smith, Raleigh, NC (1996 Peterbilt 379); 3rd Kiegan Nelson, Hartland, WI (2013 Peterbilt 389 & 2017 Reitnouer Flatbed).
BEST OF SHOW: 1st Eric Turner, Sr., Ellenwood, GA (2015 Peterbilt 389 & 2018 Wally-Mo Car Hauler); 2nd Matt Brune, Caldwell, TX (1999 Peterbilt 379); 3rd Jay Blackbourn, Fennimore, WI (2016 Peterbilt 389 & 2008 MAC).