Every year in July, truckers gather at a decommissioned air force base in Rantoul, IL for some “top gun” fun! Parking on the old concrete tarmac and in the grassy areas between the now defunct runways, which get a little rougher each year, about 150 rigs came together for a good time and to honor the show’s founder, Tom Reitz, who passed away last year while the 2018 show was just getting started. Being the first show held since Tom’s passing, some were unsure of how things might go, but with the hard work of Tom’s existing crew already in place, along with lots of help from his widow DaVeda, the show went on without a hitch.
Held on July 26-28 at the Rantoul National Aviation Center, the 12th annual Top Gun Largecar Shootout featured a truck beauty competition with classes for working, antique and show trucks, a “parade of lights” through the city of Rantoul, a Jake Brake Competition, a Kiddie Pedal Pull, a motorcycle show, music, industry vendors, food and fun.
With a big white tent set up in the middle of everything with tables and a stage, we arrived on Friday morning and set up our booth, in the grass, along with several others including Renegade, Lincoln Chrome, Tough Tested, Big Rig Tees, California Custom Polish & Wax, Iowa 80, PDI, Schaeffer’s Specialized Lubricants and Route 1 Industries. I-65 Chrome Shop and RoadWorks both brought out trucks and trailers for their large displays, setting them up on the concrete between the trucks, along with Largecar Mag and Illinois Neon. CIT Truck Sales and JX Truck Center both had several new trucks from their local dealerships on display, as well.
Friday is a pretty quiet day filled with mostly trucks getting registered, parked and cleaned, along with all the vendors getting set up. Our setup went fast, so we took advantage of this time to do a photo shoot for the truck on our cover this month (Brian Dreher) and to visit with our friends on the lot. When evening came, about 70 of the trucks in attendance rolled out to participate in the “parade of lights” through Rantoul, which sets the tone for the weekend and gets the locals excited to come out on Saturday to check out the festivities.
Friday night, after leaving the show, we headed to Black Dog Smoke & Ale House in Champaign, IL for great BBQ and even better company. Enjoying dinner with our friends and contributors Kim Grimm and John Jaikes, along with cover truckers Brian and Teresa Dreher, Eric Hill, Bob Harley and a few friends from J & L Contracting, including Jamie Williams, his son Jack and Cole Perry, we had a great night. We always enjoy hanging out with our extended 10-4 Family. J & L’s latest creation – a white with red and silver stripes Pete 389 they call “Here We Go Again” – was looking top-notch all weekend.
The bulk of the events occur on Saturday, so this day was very busy. In addition to running our booth and handing out free magazines, we took tons of pictures and talked to everyone we could. Our thanks to Eric Hill, our sales and marketing guy, who happens to be from Illinois, for coming out to the show and helping us run the booth.
With several food vendors on-site, like TK’s Cheesesteaks, Fat Guys Fries, Grandpa’s Homemade Ice Cream and Tia’s Chicken, there was no shortage of tasty treats to eat. Saturday afternoon, in addition to the Kiddie Pedal Pull that started at 1:30 PM, the motorcycle show was in full swing, featuring over 100 classics, customs, choppers, touring bikes and more. At 5:00 PM the Jake Brake Competition was held out on the tarmac and drew a huge crowd.
With temps in the low 80s and seasonably low humidity, the weather was awesome. It was a little breezy most of the day on Saturday, but that helped keep the day pleasant and the humidity at bay. Around dusk, the breeze turned into a pretty strong wind and blew in some storm clouds, which eventually caused about an hour of rain to fall. Everyone was staring at the sky and their phones, watching the weather radar images, and saying “It’s coming!” But, thankfully, after just a few light showers, the clouds dissipated, the rain stopped, the wind died down and the light show, which is one of the highlights of this event, went on as scheduled with no problems. As everyone walked around enjoying the brilliant spectacle of lights, Smoke N Whiskey played an energetic mix of country and rock tunes, providing a background of sound to add to the fun.
As always, Sunday morning came quickly, and before we knew it, it was time for the awards to be handed out. The big winners included Sid Calangelo of Fleenor Bros. and “The Duke” – their 2016 tan and brown Kenworth W900 (Best of Show Bobtail) dedicated to John Wayne, Pam Cox and her pink 2016 Pride and Class Peterbilt 389 hooked to a Wilson livestock trailer (Best of Show Combo), Dallas McCord and his cream and orange 2007 Peterbilt 379 (Best of Show Bobtail Limited Miles), and Troy Manuel and his orange and white 2020 Kenworth W990 hooked to a matching 2018 Wesmire bottle (Best of Show Combo Limited Miles). Other strong finishers included Bob Harley’s stellar 1972 Peterbilt 358, which was on our cover back in January of 2015 (Best of Show Bobtail – Over the Top), Brian Dreher’s orange and blue 2016 Peterbilt 389 and matching 2017 Great Dane reefer, which is on our cover this month (Best of Show Combo – Over the Top), and Jerrod Walter and his really sharp maroon and black 1982 A-model KW attached to a polished Timpte hopper trailer (Competitor’s Choice).
Some other rides that were standing tall included Tony Huttenstine’s silver and dark red W900 with dark gray stripes and a matching curtain van, Fleenor’s 3-tone blue slammed W990 Kenworth, David McKinney’s white and blue Pride and Class Pete 389, and STS Transit’s white and baby blue Peterbilt 389 with matching interior. As always, Arlyn Workman and his amazing red and black Pete 359 and matching curtain van were looking perfect, and the 1989 orange and black International cabover, owned and showed by young brothers Cash and Cale McCord, was turning heads, as well (look for a feature of this neat beauty in an upcoming issue of 10-4).
During the awards ceremony, many tears were shed, and kind words were spoken in honor of both Tom and his daughter Dena, who passed away just a few months after he did late last year. It was a tough year for DaVeda, losing her husband and daughter just months apart, but with help from family and friends, and everyone involved with this show, she is getting through it. Also, during the awards, DaVeda and the entire volunteer truck show crew committed to having another show at the end of July next year, so keep an eye out for more details as they become available. If you have never been to this event, make plans now to be there, and be prepared to have some “top gun fun” in 2020!
BOBTAIL (2017 & NEWER): 1st David Marti of Forrest, IL; 2nd Josh Arthur of Edwardsville, IL; 3rd Scott Lynch of Witt, IL.
BOBTAIL (2009-2016): 1st Sid Calangelo of Carthage, MO; 2nd Karen Call of Kansas City, MO; 3rd Tom Ennen of Fulton, MO.
BOBTAIL (2000-2008): 1st Brent Allen of Princeville, IL; 2nd Wayne Baker of Taylor Ridge, IL; 3rd Kayln Whitaker of Farmington, IL.
BOBTAIL (1995-1999): 1st Jeff Kephart of Indianapolis, IN; 2nd Matt Forstrom of La Fayette, IL; 3rd Derrick Gill of White Heath, IL.
BOBTAIL (1994 & OLDER): 1st Justin Congdon of Davenport, IA; 2nd David Marcotte of Momence, IL; 3rd Alex Vazquez of Lansing, IL.
BOBTAIL (LIGHTS): 1st Sid Calangelo of Carthage, MO; 2nd Drew Plummer of Toulon, IL; 3rd Josh Arthur of Edwardsville, IL.
BOBTAIL (INTERIOR): 1st Sid Calangelo of Carthage, MO; 2nd Wayne Baker of Taylor Ridge, IL; 3rd David Marti of Forrest, IL.
COMBO (2016-2019): 1st Pam Cox of Pandora, OH; 2nd David McKinney of Lexington, AL; 3rd Joel Anker of Dyer, IN.
COMBO (2010-2015): 1st Dalton Rhea of Mooresville, IN; 2nd Tony Huttenstine of Queen City, MO; 3rd Ben Flaugher of Cerro Gordo, IL.
COMBO (2005-2009): 1st Jason Markley of Farina, IL; 2nd Samuel Tolley of Butler, IN; 3rd Brian Conklin of Paxton, IL.
COMBO (2000-2004): 1st Derek Graham of Carlinville, IL; 2nd Josh Zabor of Woodland, IL; 3rd Jack Buckley of Shipshewana, IN.
COMBO (1991-1999): 1st Randy Victory of Jonesboro, AR; 2nd Marty Bauer of Cissna Park, IL; 3rd Tracy Bennison of Paxton, IL.
COMBO (1990 & OLDER): 1st Arlyn Workman of Morrison, IL; 2nd Jerrod Walter of New Berlin, IL; 3rd Jerrod Walter of New Berlin, IL.
COMBO (LIGHTS): 1st Samuel Tolley of Butler, IN; 2nd Pam Cox of Pandora, OH; 3rd Randy Victory of Jonesboro, AR.
COMBO (INTERIOR): 1st Pam Cox of Pandora, OH; 2nd David McKinney of Lexington, AL; 3rd Randy Victory of Jonesboro, AR.
LIMITED MILES BOBTAIL: 1st Dallas McCord of Anderson, IN; 2nd Jamie Williams of Springfield, MO; 3rd Chad Smith of Upper Sandusky, OH.
LIMITED MILES BOBTAIL (LIGHTS): 1st Chad Smith of Upper Sandusky, OH; 2nd Dallas McCord of Anderson, IN; 3rd Kyle Cousins of Carthage, MO.
LIMITED MILES BOBTAIL (INTERIOR): 1st Chad Smith of Upper Sandusky, OH; 2nd Dallas McCord of Anderson, IN; 3rd Jamie Williams of Springfield, MO.
LIMITED MILES COMBO: 1st Aaron Bode of Bainbridge, IN; 2nd Troy Manuel of Cerro Gorde, IL.
LIMITED MILES COMBO (LIGHTS): 1st Troy Manuel of Cerro Gorde, IL; 2nd Aaron Bode of Bainbridge, IL.
LIMITED MILES COMBO (INTERIOR): 1st Troy Manuel of Cerro Gorde, IL; 2nd Aaron Bode of Bainbridge, IL.
OVER THE TOP BOBTAIL: 1st Bob Harley of Burbank, OH; 2nd Bruce Jones of Herscher, IL; 3rd David Marcotte of Momence, IL.
OVER THE TOP COMBO: 1st Brian Dreher of Campbellsport, WI; 2nd John Jaikes of Nanticoke, PA.
OVER THE TOP COMBO (LIGHTS): 1st John Jaikes of Nanticoke, PA; 2nd Brian Dreher of Campbellsport, WI.
OVER THE TOP COMBO (INTERIOR): 1st Brian Dreher of Campbellsport, WI; 2nd John Jaikes of Nanticoke, PA.
ANTIQUE (1980-1992): 1st Jerry Metger of Huntington, IN; 2nd Bob Tullis of Bluffton, IN; 3rd Cash, Cale & Shaun McCord of Tipton, IN.
ANTIQUE (1979 & OLDER): 1st Doyle Oxley of Demotte, IN; 2nd Kenny Grove of Thomasboro, IL; 3rd David Marcotte of Momence, IL.
JAKE BRAKE COMPETITION: 1st RTR Farms of Aurora, IL; 2nd Steve Wilson of Rantoul, IL; 3rd Bruce Jones of Herscher, IL.
BEST OF SHOW BOBTAIL: Sid Calangelo of Carthage, MO – 2016 Kenworth W900.
BEST OF SHOW COMBO: Pam Cox of Pandora, OH – 2016 Peterbilt 389 & 2017 Wilson Livestock.
BEST OF SHOW BOBTAIL (LIMITED MILES): Dallas McCord of Anderson, IN – 2007 Peterbilt 379.
BEST OF SHOW COMBO (LIMITED MILES): Troy Manuel of Cerro Gorde, IL – 2020 Kenworth W990 & 2018 Wesmire Bottle.
BEST OF SHOW BOBTAIL (OVER THE TOP): Bob Harley of Burbank, OH – 1972 Peterbilt 358.
BEST OF SHOW COMBO (OVER THE TOP): Brian Dreher of Campbellsport, WI – 2016 Peterbilt 389 & 2017 Great Dane Reefer.
COMPETITOR’S CHOICE: Jerrod Walter of New Berlin, IL – 1982 KW A-Model & 2009 Wilson Hopper.