Each year, the American Truck Historical Society (ATHS) hosts their National Convention and Antique Truck Show at a unique location. One year it is held out West, the next it is in the Midwest, and the following year after that it is held somewhere back East. So, once every three years, a huge collection of vintage rigs rolls to a location in the West, and this year it just happened to be Reno, NV. Held at the Grand Sierra Resort & Casino on May 31 to June 2, this show attracted vendors, spectators and almost 1,000 amazing trucks.
I will say this right up front – the venue was not optimal – and people were not happy about it. We heard stories of some participants waiting over five hours to get checked in, photographed and parked. That is a long time! Being a resort and casino, the convention areas, located inside, where the vendors were set up and some trucks were parked, were spread out and separated into several different rooms, making some of them very difficult to find. While walking around outside, I cannot tell you how many people stopped me to ask where our booth was, and when I told them about the room we were in, which also had about 40 trucks in it, they didn’t even know that room existed!
But, besides the difficulties with the venue, the rest of the show was really phenomenal. The people were awesome, the business was good, and the trucks were out of this world. Over the years, we have been to several of these ATHS National Conventions (we usually only go and set up a booth when it is held out West), but I swear this was the best bunch of trucks ever! Every make and model, from every era, going all the way back to the 1920s, was well represented (there was even a 1913 White). The last Peterbilt ever produced at their assembly plant in Newark, CA was also there – a two-tone blue extended-hood 1987 Peterbilt 359 owned by Manuel Andrade out of Sunnyvale, CA.
John Testa, our social media guy and the man in charge of our “10-4 TV” live remotes from shows, was walking the lot all weekend, interviewing people and showing-off many of the trucks in attendance. One such rig was the latest offering from “Big Ed” Davis out of Medford, OR and his turquoise and white 1979 Kenworth A-Model with a “buzzin’ dozen” 12V71 Detroit under the hood. Ed and his crew have been working on this almost-complete truck for years (the interior was not quite done) and it was dialed-in and turning lots of heads!
Another truck that was getting a lot of attention was a revived show truck that was really famous back in the 80s and 90s – the “Tootsie Roll” truck. Purchased a few years ago by the Klos brothers from Australia, Turk and Justin, along with a small fabrication crew, flew to Missouri before the show and spent two weeks repainting and refurbishing the rig, then drove it to Reno. This brown 1985 Kenworth W900B, previously owned by Bill Donohoe of the Vernon Truck Wash, will be kept in the United States until the Truckin’ For Kids show in California this September, then sent back to Australia. Parked next to another show classic, a black Kenworth called “Old Ironsides” that was owned by Bob Wilson until he passed away a few years ago, these two KWs were the talk of the show – and another one of our “10-4 TV” live remote feature spots.
As mentioned before, our booth was inside a room with about 40 trucks, including our June 2019 cover truck – a pristine blue and silver 1979 Kenworth K100C Aerodyne owned by Paul Cox. Across from our booth, Greg Evigan from the old BJ and the Bear TV show was signing autographs and taking pictures with fans. Our first live remote from Reno, in fact, was a Friday morning interview with Greg, who talked about everything he is up to these days, which is mostly music related. We would like to thank our sponsors for the live remotes all weekend, which included Western Trailers, Pride Transport and Vic Caliva of Caliva’s Polishing & Accessories.
Have you ever seen a Peterbilt float? Well, we didn’t exactly see that, but we did see Durkin Diesel’s unique “Peterboat” – a custom red, white, black and gold pontoon boat made out of the cab, hood and front fenders of a 1999 Peterbilt 379, powered by a 120-hp Cummins Sterndrive motor, and pulled by a “rat rod” inspired 2-axle 1976 Pete 359 daycab powered by a 540-hp Detroit 8V92. The pulling truck was also fitted with a special rack on the back that holds two 1998 Kawasaki jet skis. The folks at Durkin Diesel Custom & Classic Trucks in Lemitar, NM really knocked this one out of the park. I had seen photos of this thing on social media in the past, but I didn’t think it was real. Seeing it in person, I now know it not only is real, but it’s the real deal. Maybe one day we can take it out for a float!
In addition to the show trucks and vendors, the ATHS also schedules lots of fun area-specific activities and tours for the participants to partake in, if they choose to do so. Some of these activities included special seminars, meet and greets, tours of a Naval Air Station, Lake Tahoe and Truckee, downtown Reno, the National Auto Museum and Virginia City. Historian Cam Lavin did several presentations about the 50 years of Caterpillar truck engines, our very own cover truck owner Paul Cox hosted a few informative talks about the restoration of his 1979 Kenworth, and Keith Baylor spoke about some of the lesser-known Cummins engines used in trucks.
For the most part, the weather was good all weekend, except for a few light sprinkles, here and there, from time to time. We had so much fun seeing so many of our friends – this was more like a family reunion than a truck show. And speaking of family, we would like to thank Tim and April Sieben, relatives of our very own Big E, for coming to the show and helping us in the booth and with the live remotes. They even had us over to their home in Reno for a nice BBQ after the show ended on Sunday.
To try and mention all the cool trucks that were at this show would be futile. Instead, we will just cut it off here and let the pictures do the talking. Next year’s big ATHS National Convention and Antique Truck Show is scheduled for May 28-30, 2020 at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield, IL. For more information about this and other ATHS events, visit www.aths.org today.