Each year, the Guilty By Association Truck Show (GBATS) in Joplin, Missouri has grown in leaps and bounds. And this year, celebrating their 10th anniversary, it exceeded expectations once again. Hosted and produced by 4 State Trucks, this year’s event was stretched to three days – September 27-29, 2018. OOIDA was a major supporter this year, as they were celebrating their 45th birthday, and provided volunteers and funds to help make it an even better event. Every event and activity were record-breaking and/or filled to maximum capacity, and with 693 trucks (up from 500 last year) spread out all around the store and on both sides of Highway 43, it was certainly one for the books!
In addition to all the trucks, there were also 30+ vendors on-site, including we at 10-4 Magazine. Kicking off our 25th anniversary celebration at GBATS, we brought and sold special, limited-edition t-shirts and coffee mugs, and handed out hundreds of anniversary stickers and beautifully-engraved stainless-steel bottle openers, courtesy of Rockwood Products, who just happened to be celebrating their 25th anniversary, as well. These bottle openers are destined to be timeless keepsakes, and we hope everyone enjoys them. Other vendors were RoadWorks, United Pacific, Grand General, Minimizer, Bully Dog, WTI, FASS, Fabrick Cat, Cubby Buddy, Zephyr, Trux, Peterbilt of Joplin, Thunder Grafix, Lincoln Chrome, Valley Chrome Plating, Iowa Customs and many more.
Trucks started registering on-site and getting parked on Wednesday, and continued through Thursday, as well. We arrived on Wednesday, too. Thursday night, the show officially began with the ceremonial dinner, cooked and served by the folks at Red Hot & Blue, a local smokehouse and restaurant. Typically, this dinner is held inside the shop behind the store, but after outgrowing that area it was moved across the street under a huge tent. The chuck-wagon-style dinner included ribs and chicken, along with all the sides, and a unique dessert of root beer floats, provided by all of us at 10-4 Magazine and Rockwood Products. Carl at Rockwood brought us a keg of fresh-brewed root beer all the way from Sprecher Brewery in Glendale, Wisconsin, and everyone loved it.
After the dinner, which probably served somewhere between 500-600 meals, there was a bull riding competition put on by LJ Jenkins. This was a wild event, which included the traditional cowboys, clowns and bull riding, along with mutton busting (kids riding sheep) and several crazy rodeo games.
With absolutely-perfect weather and very little humidity, Friday had plenty going on. Michael Manuel, who owns the Autism Awareness truck and is a big supporter of the cause, hosted a charity dunk tank. Folks like Mike Horan and Josh Paisley of Lincoln Chrome, Troy Huddleston of RoadWorks, Michael Manuel himself, the 4 State “Bossman” Bryan Martin and several others all took turns being dunked for donations. After raising $2,000, MAC Trailer and Lincoln Chrome both matched that amount, bringing the total to $6,000, which was donated to local Autism awareness and support organizations.
Like past years, Joe Seaman and Jim Disher organized and ran the truck burnout area. With at least seven trucks doing multiple exhibitions during the event, it was a crowd favorite, for sure. Friday also featured one big shop tour, hosted by Brice Martin, which walked 150+ people in and around the entire 4 State Trucks facility. After the store closed at 5:00 PM, everyone headed across the street for an evening of fast and loud motorsports fun.
To kick off the night’s activities, the Larry H. Martin Memorial Award was presented to Russ Moser of Joplin, Missouri. Reading a written statement about Russ’ long and successful (and often colorful) life in trucking, Bryan and the rest of the Martin family awarded him with a beautiful trophy, as well.
After the announcement of the Larry H. Martin Memorial Award, which is presented in honor of Bryan and Brice’s father, United FMX put on an amazing freestyle motorcycle jumping show. While doing practice jumps at the start of the show, one of the riders wiped out after coming down sideways on the landing ramp, sending him careening into the concrete barrier at the edge of the track, and throwing him over the bars and over the wall. After some scary minutes of him hobbling around and getting some attention by the on-site medics, he got back on his bike and completed the grand finale, which was an end-to-end jump over a tractor trailer – and he did it one handed while waving to the crowd! Some thought the wreck might be part of the show, but we saw him at the hotel later that night and he was in pretty bad shape. Our prayers go out to him for a speedy recovery – if they are needed.
Once the motorcycle ramps were cleared, it was time for the truck and tractor pulls. Featuring pickups, modified farm tractors, working big rigs and an unlimited class, the event went well into the night. Once the last race was over, a fireworks display (sponsored by OOIDA and put together by Jerry Kissinger) began that lasted 10 minutes and had over 3,500 shots. It was awesome!
Saturday had more big rig burnouts, a kid’s pedal tractor pull, and then a new event – dirt drag races! Utilizing the dirt pulling track from Friday night, working trucks and professional hot rod trucks (many of them were the same trucks doing the burnouts) raced side-by-side down the 300-foot track. Like everything else at GBATS, the grandstands were filled to capacity and everyone loved it. Jason Douglas took 1st place in the Pro Truck class, while Brandon Greer earned top honors in the Road Truck class.
At around 4:00 PM on Saturday, in preparation for the convoy to downtown Joplin from the show, an auction was held to raise funds for Special Olympics of Southwest Missouri. The lead spot went for a record-breaking $18,000! After that, the next 14 spots were auctioned off, as well as the “caboose spot” – the last truck. After the auction, the awards were handed out. There are only a few “real” awards given at this show, but there are a few “fun” ones, too – which included Dirtiest Truck (Kurtis Ballard), Shortest Drive (Pam Hatfield, who only lives 5.7 miles from the show), Baldest Tires (Brandon Carter/Nick Beall), Handyman Special (Rufus Sprucill) and “Bossman” Bryan Martin’s Choice (which went to Dave Charlebois). All these fun awards came with some fun prizes, too.
The legit awards included Zephyr’s Pride & Shine Award (Matt Neblock of Bradley, IL), along with four trophies sponsored by Diesel Freak, including People’s Choice (Dewayne Pendley of Talihina, OK), Best Rat Rod (Dave Charlebois of Quebec, Canada), Best Bobtail (Kaleb Hammett of Dodd City, TX) and Best Combo (Dave McKinney of Lexington, AL). There were also some random drawings for various prizes, including Hogebuilt and WTI fenders, a free oil change and alignment from Pomp’s Tire, (2) Michelin tires from Pomp’s Tire and more.
After the awards were handed out, it was time for the convoy – which is an annual fund-raiser for Special Olympics. Last year, the show set a record with 422 trucks. This year, the bar was raised once again, with a total of 522 – and they raised an astounding $175,000 for the cause! Once everyone got to downtown Joplin and got parked, the street party began. Featuring an amazing display of lights and sounds, a performance by Tony Justice and then a full-on concert from Confederate Railroad, the party went until about 10:30, at which point the show came to an official end.
With almost 700 trucks at the event, it would be ridiculous to try and mention all the cool head-turning rigs. One that did really stand out was Dave Charlebois’ rat rod Peterbilt. Featuring unique and custom touches everywhere you looked, this one-of-a-kind truck won not only two of the trophies, but also the hearts of many of the attendees. I’m sure it will grace the pages of this magazine at some point in the future, as Dave is a cool guy, who builds super-cool stuff, and is a good friend to many of us at 10-4 Magazine.
Celebrating their 10th anniversary, the Martin family decided that after this year, it would be in the best interest of the show (and their own personal sanity) to go to an every-other-year format. As this event grows and grows, it takes more time and more resources to get it done, and a year is just no longer enough time. Look for the next GBATS to be held on the last full weekend of September in 2020. If you plan to go, and you should, be prepared to be wowed! After 10 years of going, you know we will be there, because we never miss it!! And neither should you!!!