The 16th annual Wheel Jam Truck Show in Huron, South Dakota featured everything on wheels. Each year, Scot Marone and Tracey Bruns, along with their family, friends and volunteers, put on this awesome event. Held at the South Dakota State Fairgrounds on May 31 through June 2, this fun and busy show featured trucks, hot rods, classic cars and motorcycles – everything on wheels.
Arriving into town on Thursday, the weather couldn’t have been better. The show didn’t start until Friday, but I, along with my grandpa Neil, were invited to Tracey and Scot’s house for a steak cookout for the drivers and event staff who are present on Thursday before the weekend starts. I don’t know what was more fun – being shuttled to the party in a limo, the live band, the show trucks in the driveway or the steak dinner and unforgettable time spent meeting new friends.
By the time Friday “rolled” around, the trucks really started showing up. The venue is awesome – most of the trucks are parked on grass and some are on asphalt, making for a minimal amount of dust. While everyone was cleaning, the temp was 86 degrees and sunny (go figure that cleaning day would be the hottest of the weekend). As we rolled around in the golf cart, watching everything from the vendors to the carnival get setup, I got a chance to meet Dale Radman.
Dale drives the freshly rebuilt truck “Final Final” owned by Eilen and Sons out of Hampton, MN. This truck was one of the Best of Show winners at MATS earlier this year and is a real head-turner. The 2007 Peterbilt 379 features an overhauled Cummins engine (with over a million miles on it) pushing 650+ hp, an 18-speed, 3:55 rears and a 280” wheelbase (the little bunk and short fuel tanks make it look longer than it really is). The truck and matching 2016 MAC half-round dump trailer feature piano black paint and orange flames. Many times, I heard people calling this truck a 359, but they were tricked because it is a 379 made to look like a 359. Dale has been running the truck since the Louisville show, and has the paint chips to prove it!
A few of the other standout rigs we noticed on Friday would include Larry Olson and his blue 1982 Kenworth W900A, Dennis Durand of Jade Transport and his 2017 Kenworth with the stainless Mercury-style sleeper and matching stainless tanker, and Daniel and Phyllis Snow with their ever-famed green and silver “Goose” 1996 Freightliner Classic XL. As the night approached, we all got a little spooked by a sudden, nasty-looking storm that hit around 9:00 PM, so we all headed back to the hotel. As we sat outside and watched the storm, it was mostly lightning and just a bit of rain, and by the morning, it was like nothing ever happened.
A parade of big rigs, motorcycles and cars kicked off the day on Saturday at 10:00 AM under clear skies and a pleasant 70 degrees. Finding a spot downtown to take my pictures, the streets were filled with locals. We could hear the train horns going off in the distance as the parade got closer, and as the rigs rolled by, some of drivers threw candy out for the kids. About 60 trucks participated in the parade, and after that ended, it was time to get ready for the Jake brake contest.
Around 1:00 PM, everyone gathered on a street along the back of the show grounds for the Jake brake contest. After a group of local crop dusters flew over during the National Anthem, Wayne Alberts did some amazing burnouts in his very cool “Lil’ Pete” (until he had some engine problems). Driving under a microphone to measure the decibels their Jake brake was creating, numerous rigs competed in the contest. Coming in with a reading of 128.2 decibels in the final round, South Dakota resident Rich Anderson took the win.
After the Jake brake contest ended, we went and checked out the bike and car show. From drag cars, classics, new vehicles and custom rat rods, there was plenty to see – and lots of bikes, too. Followed by that, we went and joined the drivers for a great BBQ dinner put on by the show and, while we all ate, the sponsors and vendors gave away goodies and raffled off prizes, then the “Show and Shine” winners were announced. The “Show & Shine” contest, unlike the formal judging on Sunday, is an informal judging by ten people from the trucking industry that are given the chance to choose their favorite truck at the show. There are no rules or criteria – it’s just what they like. After dinner, we all headed outside to enjoy an amazing light show with tons of spectators.
After a long Saturday night conversing with old and new friends, it was time for the official judges to do their thing on Sunday morning. I always enjoy watching the judging process, but this was the first time my grandpa got to see it. This was his chance to really get to understand the whole concept of showing a truck and admiring all the work put into them – and he really enjoyed it. After judging, it was time for the awards.
The worst part about awards is that it marks the time you have to get ready to say your goodbyes, because everything good must come to an end. This was a great event, that would not be possible if not for the great sponsors and volunteers who put this all together. I made a lot of new friends and met up with old ones, too – those of you reading this know who you are! Wheel Jam was an awesome show, and I will definitely be back, because I am hooked on those wheels. And this year’s winners were:
BRIAN KJERGAARD MEMORIAL BEAN BAG TOURNAMENT (all proceeds to Special Olympics): Winners Chad Zweig and Jason Fritze.
JAKE BRAKE COMPETITON: Rich Anderson of Wilmot, SD (128.2 dB).
SHOW & SHINE WINNERS: Dale Radman from MN; Roger Kirschman from ND; Cyndi Cloud from MO; Larry Olson from SD; Doug Fairburn from IA; Rich Anderson from SD; Barry Spaans from IA; Jon Vos from MN; Wayne and Pearl Holt from SD; and Tristin Westhoff from SD.
BOBTAIL (1973 & OLDER): Monson Trucking Line of Chokio, MN.
BOBTAIL (1974-1984): Tristin Westhoff of Hartford, SD.
BOBTAIL (1985-1995): Kent Lorenberg of Roslyn, SD.
BOBTAIL (1996-2006): Dwayne Anwiler of Pingree, ND.
BOBTAIL (2007-2014): Keith Lambertz of Valley Springs, SD.
BOBTAIL (2015-2018): Merle Hohn of Huron, SD.
BOBTAIL (2019 & NEWER): Ben Overton of Winnipeg, Canada.
COMBO (1974-1984): Larry Olsen of Mitchell, SD.
COMBO (1985-1995): Riley Lebr of Vale, SD.
COMBO (1996-2006): Daniel & Phyllis Snow of Harrison, AR.
COMBO (2007-2014): Dale Radman of Randolph, MN.
COMBO (2015-2018): Dennis Durand of Winnipeg, Canada.
COMBO (2019 & NEWER): Jim Cooper of Enumclaw, WA.
BEST CABOVER: Wayne & Pearl Holt of Aberdeen, SD.
SPECIALTY CLASS: Ben Budde of Avon, MN.
BEST INTERIOR: Daniel & Phyllis Snow of Harrison, AR.
LIGHTS (BOBTAIL): Wayne Alberts of Justice, IL.
LIGHTS (COMBO): Michael & Jackie Wallace of Ashville, AL.
BEST FLEET (BOBTAILS): L&D Peterson Trucking of Northville, SD.
BEST FLEET (COMBOS): Tater Hins of Huron, SD.
BEST BULL RACK COMBO: Barry Spaans of Rock Valley, IA.
BEST GRAIN HOPPER COMBO: (tie) Dale Radman of Randolph, MN and Matt Kunkle of Linton, ND.
BEST VAN REEFER COMBO: Daniel & Phyllis Snow of Harrison, AR.
BEST TANKER COMBO: Jade / Dennis Durand of Winnipeg, Canada.
BEST FLATBED COMBO: Steve Anderson of Mitchell, SD.
PEOPLE’S CHOICE (BOBTAIL): James McGraw of Northville, SD.
PEOPLE’S CHOICE (COMBO): Neal Hinker of Aberdeen, SD.
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: Randy Nixon of Huron, SD.