The 20th annual 2019 Great American Trucking Show (GATS) was both somber and successful. Held on August 22-24 at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas, TX, it was the first official outing for “Team 10-4” as an organization after the recent loss of our co-founder Erik Sieben. But, to help balance out the memorials and sadness, was a great show that, as it always does for us, provided fresh and successful business transactions and strengthened many of our existing partnerships.
Arriving on Wednesday afternoon to set up our 10×20 display, Shannon Linss, Eric Hill, John Testa and I did all the necessary prep for the booth and said our initial “hellos” to everyone already there. Afterwards, we headed out to dinner at the El Fenix Mexican Restaurant for a delicious feast, which has become an annual tradition for us when at GATS. This eatery, which features traditional dishes at affordable prices, has been around for 101 years, so you know it is good! And, as always, it did not disappoint.
Thursday morning the show opened at 11:00 AM for a special VIP hour, then at 12:00 to the general public. Thursday is a slower day and a good day to take pictures and make business contacts, both of which we did. With 500 exhibitors, including many of our advertisers (Grand General, Lincoln Chrome, Pittsburgh Power, Hogebuilt, PDI, Minimizer, Axle Surgeons, Western Truck Insurance, Talladega Fiberglass, Renegade Products and Diesel Spec), there were plenty of people to visit. Our friends Brandon and Amy Wright of Roll On Customs came out from California, as well, and are always fun to see and visit with (they make quality billet aluminum nut covers). As the show’s first day came to an end at 5:00 PM, a group of 12 of us headed to a nice Italian restaurant (Porta Di Roma) in downtown Dallas, which included the folks from Pittsburgh Power, along with a few other friends.
During the entire 3-day event, which had over 20,000 attendees, our Social Media Manager John Testa was on-site doing live remotes on Facebook so folks not able to attend the show still got to see and hear what was happening. Thanks to our sponsors 4 State Trucks, Lincoln Chrome, Pittsburgh Power and Quick Pressure Tire Caps, who also gave away several sets of their tire pressure monitoring caps that simply screw on to the valve stem, John was able to do several remotes each day, highlighting rigs, people and booths throughout the venue.
With the crowds picking up on Friday and show hours 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM, there were lots of things to see and do. Walking the show floor, there were special areas called “pavilions” – one featured new trucks, another had over 50 outfits looking to recruit drivers, and a third one focused on health and offered free screenings and advice to truckers. Out in the lobby, Red-Eye Radio hosted a Trucker Talent Search competition, as well as several concerts featuring Jayne Denham, Taylor Hicks, Tony Justice and many others throughout the event.
On Friday, our longtime trucking friend Jed DeBardeleben came to the show to help us in the booth and hang out. After the show closed on Friday, we all went to Saltgrass Steakhouse with a group of folks including past cover trucker and friend Tim Cody Jr. and his crew, a bunch of crazy Canadian truckers from Tri-Corp, and Evan Steger of Evan’s Detailing & Polishing and some of his business partners – 14 of us in total – and enjoyed some amazing steaks and even better carrot cake! Well, some of us got to enjoy the carrot cake (they ran out and we got the last few pieces). Thankfully, their cheesecake was phenomenal, as well, and they had plenty of that, so crisis averted.
For us, and probably our readers, the Pride & Polish truck beauty competition is the highlight of the entire event. With about 50 or 60 of the finest rides in attendance, along with an entire section devoted to rat rods (about 10 of them), there were some cool rigs to check out. Some of the notable ones that caught our eye were Tony Huttenstine and his silver and maroon KW (our cover feature truck this month), Jamie Adkin’s teal 2019 Peterbilt 389 and matching drop deck, Hammett Excavation’s latest build (a multi-axle Peterbilt 389 dump truck) and a cream Peterbilt 389 and matching step deck from Custom Trucks & Equipment.
A few more of our favorites included Mike Shantz’ dark brown 2017 KW W900L with gold stripes, Dennis & Ila White’s maroon 1987 Pete 359, and Kary Bryce’s latest toy – a super-clean dark gray and black needlenose Peterbilt. Another standout was a custom 2006 Peterbilt 379 owned by Greg Sutton of BBS in Texas. Featuring a sharp maroon, brown and gold paint job, along with a custom interior, this truck was turning heads all weekend. But our favorite had a lot of sentimental value, too – a bright red 1985 Peterbilt 359, hooked to a muralled trailer, that was once owned by our good friend Jerry Jeffries of Double JJ Enterprises. The new owners, James and Cynthia Hodge, bought the truck and trailer to use it as their ministry to spread the gospel (look for a full feature of this rig in a future issue of 10-4).
Come Saturday morning, it was time to announce the winners. But, before that happened, a special tribute was done for our co-founder Erik Sieben, who passed away on August 9. Jerad Wittwer of PDI had our longtime friend and past cover trucker Jeff Botelho flown in from California early that morning to say a few words about Erik and what he meant to the truck show community and trucking, in general. It was a touching few minutes. Jeff, not known for being a very polished public speaker but rather a frank and direct talker who “retired” from truck building and attending truck shows some ten years prior, did a fantastic job. After a moment of silence for Erik, we handed out some “10-4 Bucks” ($104 cash) in his honor. Jeff spent the rest of the day hanging out in our booth and walking the show, meeting new friends and getting reacquainted with old ones. We would like to personally thank Jerad, Jeff and everyone at GATS for working so hard to make this wonderful tribute happen.
Once the tissues were handed out, it was time to hand out the trophies. The big winners this year were Eric Turner and his blue and black 2015 Peterbilt 389 and matching 2018 Wally Mo Auto Transporter (Best of Show Working Combo and Trucker’s Choice); Ray Thompson and his silver, gray and green 2000 Peterbilt 379 (Best of Show in the Builder’s Class); Kaleb Hammett of Hammett Excavation and his gray and red 2017 Peterbilt 389 (Best of Show Working Bobtail); TJ Kounkel and his purple and lime green 2019 Peterbilt 389 and matching 2020 Wilson trailer (Best of Show Limited Miles Combo); and Mike Briseno of Lindamood Demolition and his black 2013 Peterbilt 389 (Best of Show Limited Miles Bobtail).
The show came to an end on Saturday at 4:00 PM, and after we broke our booth down, we hit a local BBQ joint (Lockhart Smokehouse) for some good chicken, ribs and sausage (they were out of brisket by the time we got there). After a photo shoot with Tony Huttenstine on Sunday for this month’s cover, we were on a plane and headed home Monday morning. Although this year’s show was bittersweet, filled with both sadness and celebration, we had fun spending time with our extended 10-4 Magazine family. The 2020 GATS event is scheduled for August 27-29, so mark your calendars now. This year’s winners were:
ANTIQUE BOBTAIL (1975 & OLDER): 1st Marty & Brenda Glomb of Taylor, TX – 1955 Black & White Kenworth; 2nd Pablo Cuellar of La Porte, TX – 1983 Blue Kenworth K-125; 3rd Wade Wardlaw of Woodville, TX – 1975 White & Copper Peterbilt 359.
ANTIQUE BOBTAIL (1976-1994): 1st Tony Kidd/Daryl Livingston of Texarkana, TX – 1978 White Kenworth W900A; 2nd Ed Harwell of Cave Springs, AR – 1988 Black Freightliner FLT086; 3rd Willie Lewis/Texas Truck Tuning of Cleburne, TX – 1985 White & Black Peterbilt 359.
ANTIQUE COMBO: 1st Geo Cuellar of La Porte, TX – 1985 Blue Kenworth K-100E/1980 Matlack Van; 2nd David Schnautz of La Porte, TX – 1981 Blue Kenworth W900A/1982 Wilson Livestock Trailer; 3rd Delma Gibbs of Detroit, TX – 1980 Gray, Red & White International Transtar II Eagle 4070B/2005 Chaparral Step Deck.
BOBTAIL (NEW TRUCK UNDER 50K MILES): 1st George Geesbrecht/Peter Webbe of Aylmer, Ontario, Canada – 2019 Black Kenworth W900L; 2nd Bryce Brown/Hammett Excavation of Dodd City, TX – 2019 Red & Grey Peterbilt 389; 3rd Drennon Durham/Texas Truck Tuning of Cleburne, TX – 2019 White & Red Peterbilt 389.
BOBTAIL (COMPANY TRUCK): 1st Mike Shantz/Vernla Livestock of Wallenstein, Ontario, Canada – 2017 Dark Brown Kenworth W900L; 2nd Jake Lindamood/Lindamood Demolition of Irving, TX – 2007 Brown & Tan Peterbilt 379; 3rd David Kosar/Riteway Truck Rental of Dallas, TX – 1996 Maroon Peterbilt 379.
BOBTAIL (2010 & OLDER): 1st Shane Boullion of Carencro, LA – 2001 Rose Gray Peterbilt 379; 2nd Brett & Chris Chastain of Flora, IN – 2005 White & Orange Mack CXN; 3rd Danny Hewer/Pete Weebe of Aylmer, Ontario, Canada – 2014 Black Kenworth W900L.
BOBTAIL (2011 & NEWER): 1st Kaleb Hammett/Hammett Excavation of Dodd City, TX – 2017 Red & Grey Peterbilt 389; 2nd Tim Cody, Jr. of Lake Ozark, MO – 2018 White Peterbilt 389; 3rd Mike Hicks/Kyle Cousins of Carthage, MO – 2015 Black Cherry Kenworth W900L.
COMBO (FIRST SHOW): 1st James & Cynthia Hodge of Chattanooga, TN – 1985 Red Peterbilt 359/2000 Haulmark; 2nd Jimmy Nevarez of Phelan, CA – 2018 Gray Freightliner Cascadia/2010 Wabash Van; 3rd Henry Albert of Laredo, TX – 2018 Blue Freightliner Cascadia/2008 Utility.
COMBO (COMPANY TRUCK): 1st Luis Fraoa of Pasadena, TX – 2019 Black Kenworth W900L/1995 Utility Curtain Side; 2nd Gabe Rosenthal/Stevens Transport of Dallas, TX – 2020 Black Kenworth T680/2020 Utility Reefer.
COMBO (OPEN CLASS): 1st Eric Turner, Sr. of Ellenwood, GA – 2015 Blue Peterbilt 389/2018 Wally Mo Auto Transporter; 2nd Tony Huttenstine of Queen City, MO – 2010 Silver Kenworth W900L/2018 Extreme Conestoga; 3rd Carl Wilson/Anel Becirevic of Rowlett, TX – 2019 Yellow Peterbilt 389/2018 Vanguard Van.
INTERIOR (CAB ONLY): 1st Jake Lindamood/Lindamood Demolition of Irving, TX – 2007 Brown & Tan Peterbilt 379; 2nd Tony Huttenstine of Queen City, MO – 2010 Silver Kenworth W900L/2018 Extreme Conestoga; 3rd Drennon Durham/Texas Truck Tuning of Cleburne, TX – 2019 White & Red Peterbilt 389.
INTERIOR (OEM SLEEPER): 1st Tim Cody, Jr. of Lake Ozark, MO – 2018 White Peterbilt 389; 2nd Kaleb Hammett/Hammett Excavation of Dodd City, TX – 2017 Red & Grey Peterbilt 389; 3rd Eric Turner, Sr. of Ellenwood, GA – 2015 Blue Peterbilt 389/2018 Wally Mo Auto Transporter.
INTERIOR (AFTERMARKET SLEEPER): 1st Bob & Linda Caffee of Silex, MO – 2019 Blue Freightliner Cascadia.
BEST INTERIOR (LIMITED MILES): Ray Thompson of Campbell, MO – 2000 Silver, Gray & Green Peterbilt 379.
ENGINE (WORKING TRUCK): 1st Eric Turner, Sr. of Ellenwood, GA – 2015 Blue Peterbilt 389/2018 Wally Mo Auto Transporter; 2nd Kaleb Hammett/Hammett Excavation of Dodd City, TX – 2017 Red & Grey Peterbilt 389; 3rd Jake Lindamood/Lindamood Demolition of Irving, TX – 2007 Brown & Tan Peterbilt 379.
BEST ENGINE (LIMITED MILES): Ray Thompson of Campbell, MO – 2000 Silver, Gray & Green Peterbilt 379.
PAINT (BOBTAIL): 1st Tim Cody, Jr. of Lake Ozark, MO – 2018 White Peterbilt 389; 2nd Kaleb Hammett/Hammett Excavation of Dodd City, TX – 2017 Red & Grey Peterbilt 389; 3rd Mike Hicks/Kyle Cousins of Carthage, MO – 2015 Black Cherry Kenworth W900L.
PAINT (COMBO): 1st Eric Turner, Sr. of Ellenwood, GA – 2015 Blue Peterbilt 389/2018 Wally Mo Auto Transporter; 2nd Tony Huttenstine of Queen City, MO – 2010 Silver Kenworth W900L/2018 Extreme Conestoga.
BEST PAINT BOBTAIL (LIMITED MILES): Ray Thompson, Campbell, MO; 2000 Silver, Gray & Green Peterbilt 379.
BEST PAINT COMBO (LIMITED MILES): TJ Kounkel of Merrill, IA – 2019 Purple Peterbilt 389/2020 Wilson Silverstar Livestock trailer.
LIMITED MILES BOBTAIL: 1st Mike Briseno/Lindamood Demolition of Irving, TX – 2013 Black Peterbilt 389; 2nd Doug Jameson/James Williams of Ozark, MO – 2019 White & Red Peterbilt 389; 3rd Dennis & Ila White of Broken Bow, OK – 1987 Maroon Peterbilt 359.
LIMITED MILES COMBO: 1st TJ Kounkel of Merrill, IA – 2019 Purple Peterbilt 389/2020 Wilson; 2nd Jamie Adkins of Swan, IA – 2019 Teal Peterbilt 389/2020 XL 80; 3rd Bubba Branch of Lakeland, FL – 2020 White Peterbilt 389/2019 Fontaine RGN.
BUILDER’S CLASS: 1st Ray Thompson of Campbell, MO – 2000 Silver/Gray/Green Peterbilt 379; 2nd Greg Sutton/BBS Truck of Texarkana, TX – 2006 Maroon Peterbilt 379; 3rd Scott Vieth/RDDP of Wichita Falls, TX – 2018 Silver Peterbilt 379.
FAN FAVORITE RAT ROD: Jeff Roland of Midland, TX – 1929 Wayne school bus.
BEST OF SHOW WORKING BOBTAIL: Kaleb Hammett/Hammett Excavation of Dodd City, TX – 2017 Red & Grey Peterbilt 389.
BEST OF SHOW WORKING COMBO: Eric Turner, Sr. of Ellenwood, GA – 2015 Blue Peterbilt 389/2018 Wally Mo Auto Transporter.
TRUCKER’S CHOICE: Eric Turner, Sr. of Ellenwood, GA – 2015 Blue Peterbilt 389/2018 Wally Mo Auto Transporter.