The 2019 truck show season has begun! As it has since 1972, the Mid-America Trucking Show, held every March in Louisville, Kentucky, kicked off the show season with a bang. And this year, unlike 2018, Mother Nature played nice (for the most part). Nearly all the major manufacturers are there, along with hundreds of aftermarket accessory and service companies, making this the largest trucking convention in the world. The PKY Truck Beauty Championships, held outside in conjunction with MATS, always brings out the latest and greatest in both working and show-only trucks, and lets everyone know who will be the one to beat at the other events throughout the year.
In 1972, the MATS show started with 4,000 attendees and 83 exhibitors, filling just a portion of the West Wing of the original Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center. This year, the 48th annual MATS event, held March 28-30, featured over 72,000 attendees and 1,000+ exhibitors, covering over 1,000,000 sq. ft. of space, throughout most of the enormous Kentucky Expo Center of today. We have been exhibiting at this show since 2003, and each year we are amazed at the large turnout. With informational seminars, prize giveaways, free concerts, live remotes and more, there is always a lot to see and do at MATS – maybe too much!
With the introduction of Kenworth’s new flagship W990 truck creating a lot of buzz, these new rigs were featured in several booths both inside and outside, and a few even entered the PKY Truck Beauty Championships. Although much of the industry has been slow to warm-up to this “aerodynamically-inspired” hooded truck, many of the examples at MATS were certainly heading in the right direction – especially the black and blue one built for Fleenor Bros. that was on display in the Dynaflex booth. Speaking in the Kenworth booth with Jonathan Duncan, who directed much of the design of the W990, he claims the W990 is not replacing the W900, and that Kenworth will keep making those older trucks as long as people keep buying them!
This year, like the last, we brought out our social media manager John Testa and his video assistant Adam Frick, who again did interviews and live remotes throughout the event from the show floor and outside on the show truck lot. This year, we added a new twist, using a green screen, and converting half of our booth into “Studio 10-4” where we did live interviews with some of our advertisers, contributors, trucking celebrities and truck show winners. Thanks to Minimizer, Lifetime Nut Covers, 4 State Trucks, Lincoln Chrome and Rockwood Products for supporting all this activity and helping to make all this information available through “10-4 TV” to our fans, followers and readers.
Arriving in Louisville on Tuesday afternoon, we spent most of the day Wednesday setting up our booth. Wednesday night, as the lights were judged on the show trucks, we did live remotes and took photos. What a beautiful night it was. Last year we were dealing with wet shoes and piles of snow, but this year was perfect! A little cool, but nothing to complain about.
Thursday morning at 10:00 AM the show began with a special VIP session for the first few hours, and then it opened to the general public at 1:00 PM. Taking advantage of nice weather, with rain in the forecast for Saturday and possibly Friday, I headed outside to take some pictures. With a full lot featuring 100 of the finest rigs ever, there was some tall iron to enjoy, for sure. After the show closed Thursday evening, we headed over to Texas Roadhouse with about 30 of our friends and contributors for our annual MATS dinner and meeting. Thanks to everyone who came and helped make it a special night.
Friday morning began with cloudy skies, but the rain basically stayed away all day. Inside, the show was as busy as ever, and along with the usual seminars and training sessions occurring, Elaine Chao, the US Secretary of Transportation, was making a keynote address (mostly about the impending changes to the hours of service rules) when the power went out in the convention center! Over in our booth, we were in the middle of a live remote interview when the power went out, but aside from losing our lighting, the rest of the system was running on battery power, so we kept going. After a few moments of darkness, backup generators kicked in and some auxiliary lighting came on. It took about 10 minutes for the power to be fully restored, and when the main lights popped back on, cheers could be heard throughout the venue.
Friday night, after the show ended for the day, Mobil Delvac sponsored a free concert in Freedom Hall at the convention center featuring Michael Ray and Runaway June. Michael Ray is an up-and-coming country music artist who was featured on a talent show back in 2012 called “The Next: Fame Is At Your Doorstep.” Mentored by John Rich of Big & Rich, Michael went on to win the competition and has since released two albums. Runaway June is a trio of harmonizing women whose debut single “Lipstick” climbed the charts, giving them the opportunity to be an opening act on Carrie Underwood’s upcoming Cry Pretty 360 tour.
As always, Saturday morning came quickly at MATS. In addition to doing interviews and live remotes in our booth, all the usual activities were happening, as well. Handing out thousands of free copies of the magazine, along with posters, truck centerfolds and limited-edition engraved stainless-steel bottle openers (made in honor of our 25th anniversary), much of our swag and giveaways were gone by Saturday morning. As many of us headed across the hall to attend the awards ceremony, a few stayed behind to continue handing out what we had left and do more live interviews.
Beginning at 10:00 AM, in a room packed with an estimated 600 people, the awards began by honoring a few folks the industry lost since last year – namely, young driver, husband, father and past MATS show participant Eric Holthaus, Kenneth Stinson, the 57-year-old driver for GF&S Transport who slipped and fell off his trailer last year and died, Kay Kissinger (longtime show participant Jerry Kissinger’s wife), and Tom Reitz, founder and producer of the Top Gun Largecar Shootout held every July in Rantoul, IL.
After a few announcements and sponsor acknowledgments, Bud Farquhar of Stars & Stripes, who produces the PKY competition, along with Toby Young at MATS, handed off the microphone to Chris Fiffie of Big Rig Videos who, for the first time ever, announced all the winners. But before the winners were announced, Chris debuted the brand-new music video he made for Tony Justice’s song, Last of the Cowboys, to an excited (and anxious) room of truckers. With a smooth and sultry delivery, along with his signature deep voice, Chris did a great job!
So, who won what? Well, some of the big winners included our past cover trucker Kaleb Hammett (February 2018) and his gray and red 2017 Peterbilt 389 (Best of Show Working Bobtail), Eric Turner and his blue 2015 Peterbilt 389 with black stripes and matching Wally-Mo 8-car hauler (Best of Show Working Combo), and Mark Hollen of Denver, PA. Mark’s blue 2014 KW W900L, customized to look like an older model, took the coveted People’s Choice award.
In the Limited Mileage categories, which were further broken-up into separate classes including rigs with miles and rigs with no miles, the big winners were KC Cousins of Fleenor Bros. and his “Citrus Mistress” orange 2017 KW W900L with a white stripe (Limited Mileage Bobtail with Miles), Durrell M. Martin and his rust-colored 2013 Peterbilt 389 with gold and black stripes made to look like an old 359 (Limited Mileage Bobtail with No Miles), and Dustin Shipman of J & L Contracting and their “Never Satisfied” red 2008 Kenworth W900L with white stripes (our April 2019 cover truck) and matching red 2019 Etnyre low boy (Limited Mileage Combo).
In the Dump classes, the big winners were Brian Parsons and his 2019 International HX (Working Dump), Elliot Newberry and his white and red 2018 Peterbilt 389 (Limited Mileage Dump), and Jake Eilen and his black 2007 Pete 379 with orange ghost flames and matching 2019 MAC half-round (Limited Mileage Dump Combo). Jake Eilen’s brothers Jonathan and Pat rebuilt this truck in their brother’s honor, who passed away back in 2008 – and it turned a lot of heads! This truck was also one of the Eilen trucks featured on our January 2009 cover.
A couple winners of some specialty awards went to our past cover trucker (January 2018) John Jaikes and his purple 1999 Kenworth W900L and matching 2005 Utility reefer (Best Lights Combo), Rodney Miller and his cream 2018 Peterbilt 389 and matching 2019 Great Dane reefer, both styled to look like a vintage combination (the Jake Eilen “Pride in your Ride” Memorial Award), and Tim Cody Jr. and his white and baby blue 2018 Pete 389 and matching 2020 Cottrell 7-car hauler (Rockwood’s “Runnin’ Late” Award). Tim’s truck, which just happens to be on our cover this month, was the last one to roll in and get parked on the lot!
Unfortunately, not everyone can get one of those really big trophies, so there were a lot of jaw-dropping trucks that brought home smaller (or no) trophies that are still very worthy of a mention here. A truck that seemed to be talked about a lot was a chopped and stretched red 1980 Peterbilt 359 brought out by Kevin Love and David Tompkins. Another popular rig was a blue 1996 Peterbilt 379 with silver stripes owned by Satha Kilgore. Fitted with a retro aluminum sleeper from 4 State Trucks and hooked to a 2019 Wilson cattle trailer, this classic combo, brought out by our friend Everett Ford, was one of the most popular trucks on the lot.
Other noteworthy rides at MATS included Chad Berry’s latest “Money for Nothing” gray and purple 1995 Kenworth W900L, which had bright purple deep shag carpet inside, Chad Smith’s black 2018 Peterbilt 389 with three thin orange stripes, hooked to a set of East B-Train flats, and Christian Van Schaick’s green 2019 Kenworth W900L with silver stripes from Coal Bucket Express in Levittown, PA. But I think my favorite truck on the lot was CJ Donovan’s silver 1984 Peterbilt 362 cabover with maroon stripes from Lancaster, PA – the stance on that rig was perfect! One last thing to mention would be Kaleb Hammett’s new door panels and interior pieces, featuring unique hand-tooled leather.
During most of the morning on Saturday, the rain was coming down. But, a few hours later, in the afternoon, the rain stopped, allowing everyone inside to go outside to see the trucks and the winners with their trophies. This also caused a bit of a lull on the show floor, making the last few hours a lot less busy than normal. Unfortunately, about the time the show closed, when everyone had to pack out their booths and stuff, it began really pouring outside. This made for a very unpleasant tear-down and loading time. That night, after having dinner downtown, the rain was coming down so hard and the wind was blowing so strong it was impossible to step outside, even just to run to your car, without getting soaked. It was wild.
The rain and wind on Saturday night forced the “Parade After MATS” to be rescheduled for the next morning. This parade, organized by Chris Fiffie of Big Rig Videos, which has become an annual tradition at the end of MATS each year, allows trucks to take a victory lap on the “Circle of Champions” street that runs around the convention center grounds before heading home. The event went off without a hitch on Sunday morning, as many trucks participated.
And, just like that, it was time to get on a plane heading home. For as crazy as this event is, it sure goes by quickly. As usual, I did not see everyone I wanted to see or do everything I wanted to do. But all of us at 10-4 would like to thank everyone who came by the booth and/or participated in our live remotes and interviews. We love our faithful readers and know that we couldn’t have this cool “job” if it weren’t for them, along with our awesome advertisers, of course! We’d also like to give a shout-out and an official welcome to the newest member of our team, Eric Hill, who will now be handling most of our sales. If you’re interested in advertising, find Eric Hill on our “Contact Us” page on our website (http://www.tenfourmagazine.com/contact-us/) and give him a call. He would love to help you out!
The dates for next year’s event have been set for March 26-28, 2020, so mark your calendars now and plan to be there – you won’t be disappointed. And the 2019 winners were:
WORKING BOBTAIL: 1st Dan Brubaker – 2003 Peterbilt 379; 2nd Warren Hartman – 2018 Pete 389; 3rd Maya Pyskaty – 1997 Pete 379.
WORKING COMBO: 1st Chad Cooper – 1996 Peterbilt 379 & 2016 Reitnouer Big Bubba; 2nd Gary Jones Jr. – 1995 Peterbilt 379 & 2019 Globe; 3rd Shawn Cielke – 2005 Kenworth T600 & 2016 Wabash Reefer.
NEW TRUCK (BOBTAIL): 1st Jamie Adkins – 2019 Peterbilt 389; 2nd Austin Kiser – 2018 Pete 389; 3rd Brett Hilliard – 2019 Pete 389.
NEW TRUCK (COMBO): 1st Dean DeSantis – 2018 Peterbilt 389 & 2019 East Flatbed; 2nd Chad Smith – 2018 Peterbilt 389 & 2019 East B-Train Flats; 3rd Rob Hagenow – 2019 Peterbilt 389 & 2019 Utility 4000D-X.
FIRST SHOW (BOBTAIL): 1st Tyler Van Der Zwaag – 2019 Peterbilt 389; 2nd Greg Kendall – 2000 Peterbilt 379; 3rd J.D. Howard – 1995 Kenworth W900L.
FIRST SHOW (COMBO): 1st Satha Kilgore – 1996 Peterbilt 379 & 2019 Wilson Cattle Trailer; 2nd Chad Wilson – 1983 Peterbilt 359 & 2005 EBY Livestock Trailer.
ANTIQUE (ORIGINAL): 1st Greg Jenkins – 1988 Western Star 4964; 2nd Jason Earlywine – 1989 Freightliner FLC120; 3rd Larry R. Vogel – 1986 Mack MH613.
ANTIQUE (CUSTOM): 1st CJ Donovan – 1984 Peterbilt 362; 2nd Greg LaFave – 1974 Pete 359; 3rd Rodney Griffin – 1957 Peterbilt 351.
WORKING DUMP: 1st Brian Parsons – 2019 International HX; 2nd Travis Dowell – 2019 Kenworth W900L.
WORKING COMBO (COMPANY-OWNED): 1st Robert Gladish – 2017 Peterbilt 389 & 2020 Reitnouer; 2nd Zach Pletcher – 2015 Peterbilt 389 & 2015 Mac Flatbed with Conestoga; 3rd David Ruhkamp – 2016 Freightliner Coronado & 2019 Landoll 440.
WORKING INTERIOR (CAB ONLY): 1st Warren Hartman – 2018 Peterbilt 389; 2nd Pam Cox – 2016 Peterbilt 389 & 2019 Wilson Livestock; 3rd Chad Cooper – 1996 Peterbilt 379 & 2016 Reitnouer Big Bubba.
WORKING INTERIOR (OEM SLEEPER): 1st Kaleb Hammett – 2017 Peterbilt 389; 2nd Eric Turner Sr. – 2015 Peterbilt 389 & 2018 Wally-M0 8-Car Hauler; 3rd Dan Brubaker – 2003 Peterbilt 379.
WORKING INTERIOR (CUSTOM SLEEPER): 1st Daniel and Phyllis Snow – 1996 Freightliner Classic XL & 2006 Utility; 2nd Dean DeSantis – 2018 Peterbilt 389 & 2019 East Flatbed.
WORKING ENGINE: 1st Eric Turner Sr. – 2015 Peterbilt 389 & 2018 Wally-Mo 8-Car Hauler; 2nd Kaleb Hammett – 2017 Peterbilt 389; 3rd Chad Smith – 2018 Peterbilt 389 & 2019 East B-Train Flats.
WORKING BOBTAIL PAINT/GRAPHICS: 1st Devery Jones – 1999 Peterbilt 379; 2nd Dan Brubaker – 2003 Peterbilt 379; 3rd Kaleb Hammett – 2017 Peterbilt 389.
WORKING COMBO PAINT/GRAPHICS: 1st Gary Jones Jr. – 1995 Peterbilt 379 & 2019 Globe; 2nd Eric Turner Sr. – 2015 Peterbilt 389 & 2018 Wally-Mo 8-Car Hauler; 3rd Dean DeSantis – 2018 Peterbilt 389 & 2019 East Flatbed.
WORKING BOBTAIL LIGHTS: 1st Kaleb Hammett – 2017 Peterbilt 389; 2nd Jamie Adkins – 2019 Peterbilt 389; 3rd Warren Hartman – 2018 Peterbilt 389.
WORKING COMBO LIGHTS: 1st John Jaikes and Kim Grimm – 1999 Kenworth W900L & 2005 Utility 3000R; 2nd Chad Cooper – 1996 Peterbilt 379 & 2016 Reitnouer; 3rd Shawn Cielke – 2005 KW T600 & 2016 Wabash Reefer.
LIMITED MILEAGE BEST INTERIOR: David McKinney – 2016 Peterbilt 389 & 2019 Reitnouer Big Bubba.
LIMITED MILEAGE BEST ENGINE: Joshua Donnell – 1997 Peterbilt 379 & 2014 T&E Race Car Hauler.
LIMITED MILEAGE BEST PAINT/GRAPHICS (BOBTAIL): Kevin Love and David Tompkins – 1980 Peterbilt 359.
LIMITED MILEAGE BEST PAINT/GRAPHICS (COMBO): Rodney Miller – 2018 Peterbilt 389 & 2019 Great Dane Reefer.
LIMITED MILEAGE BEST LIGHTS (BOBTAIL) W/MILES: Aaron and William Churchill – 2019 Kenworth W900B.
LIMITED MILEAGE BEST LIGHTS (BOBTAIL) W/NO MILES: Ed Harwell – 1988 Freightliner FLT086.
LIMITED MILEAGE BEST LIGHTS (COMBO): David McKinney – 2016 Peterbilt 389 & 2019 Reitnouer Big Bubba.
LIMITED MILEAGE BOBTAIL (W/MILES): 1st KC Cousins – 2017 Kenworth W900L; 2nd Chad Berry – 1995 Kenworth W900; 3rd Terry Sturby – 2018 Kenworth W900L; 4th James Flanagan – 2007 Peterbilt 379; 5th Johnny Payton – 1993 Peterbilt 379.
LIMITED MILEAGE BOBTAIL (NO MILES): 1st Durrell M. Martin – 2013 Peterbilt 389; 2nd Kevin Love and David Tompkins – 1980 Pete 359; 3rd Christian Van Schaick – 2019 KW W900L; 4th Scott Vieth – 2019 Peterbilt 389; 5th Mark Hollen – 2014 Kenworth W900L.
LIMITED MILEAGE COMBO: 1st Dustin Shipman – 2008 Kenworth W900L & 2019 Etnyre; 2nd David McKinney – 2016 Pete 389 & 2019 Reitnouer; 3rd Rodney Miller – 2018 Pete 389 & 2019 Great Dane Reefer; 4th Joshua Donnell – 1997 Pete 379 & 2014 T&E Race Car Hauler; 5th Tim Cody Jr. – 2018 Peterbilt 389 & 2020 Cottrell 7-Car Hauler.
LIMITED MILEAGE DUMP: 1st Elliott Newberry – 2018 Peterbilt 389; 2nd Randy Manning – 2018 Kenworth W900L; 3rd Darrell Morgan – 2016 Peterbilt 389.
LIMITED MILEAGE DUMP COMBO: 1st Jake Eilen – 2007 Peterbilt 379 & 2019 Mac Half Round; 2nd Charles Chase – 2019 Kenworth W900L & 2020 East; 3rd Steve Kamysiak – 1980 International Transtar II & 2019 East.
TOP 3 KENWORTHS IN SHOW (CHOSEN BY KENWORTH): Chad Berry – 1995 W900; Mark Hollen – 2014 W900L; Dustin Shipman – 2008 W900L.
ROADWORKS’ BEST USE OF CHROME (BOBTAIL): Kevin Geltmaker – 1980 Kenworth K100C.
ROADWORKS’ BEST USE OF CHROME (COMBO): Chad Cooper – 1996 Peterbilt 379 & 2016 Reitnouer Big Bubba.
ROCKWOOD’S “RUNNIN’ LATE” AWARD: Tim Cody Jr. – 2018 Peterbilt 389 & 2020 Cottrell 7-Car Hauler.
JAKE EILEN “PRIDE IN YOUR RIDE” MEMORIAL AWARD: Rodney Miller – 2018 Peterbilt 389 & 2019 Great Dane Reefer.
BEST OF SHOW WORKING BOBTAIL: Kaleb Hammett – 2017 Peterbilt 389.
BEST OF SHOW WORKING COMBO: Eric Turner Sr. – 2015 Peterbilt 389 & 2018 Wally-Mo 8-Car Hauler.
PEOPLE’S CHOICE: Mark Hollen – 2014 Kenworth W900L.