This year (2019) marked the 20th Anniversary of the Big Iron Classic truck show and my fourth year in attendance. As anyone who has been to this show or at least has heard of it knows, this is one event that brings in plenty of big iron to the Midwest. Held the first weekend after Labor Day each year at the Dodge County Fairgrounds in Kasson, MN, this charity event never disappoints. More importantly, show-goers refer to the Big Iron as a family reunion, as most of the people there go every year. And, for some, this is the once-a-year chance to visit with friends you may not otherwise see.
I had a nice drive up to Kasson on Friday, September 6th, and had been already looking forward to a full day of trucks and events happening the next day. When I got there, some trucks were getting parked and others were waiting for the light show to happen on Friday evening. When dusk fell, the lights went on and it was amazing to see how the trucks just lit up the entire grounds. Shortly after the light show started, Trouble Shooter took to the stage and brought live music to everyone.
As some out there may know, I enjoy walking the grounds of shows in the early morning when most people are still sleeping. Walking the grounds early Saturday morning, which was filled with an astounding 663 trucks, I recognized plenty of trucks I had seen in previous years and at other shows. Near the entrance, Eilen and Sons was parked in full force and looking top notch and, also nearby, Rethwisch Transport and their group of large rides could be found in their normal spot.
Past the Rethwisch group was a few rows of trucks, but at the head of those rows was a display reminding everyone of some truckers we have lost, including the story of a three-year-old boy named Miles Nelson. For those who don’t know, this little boy was battling an aggressive form of blood cancer, and at the 2018 show, where he had a great time seeing and sitting in as many trucks as he could, his parents were unsure how long he had to live. Unfortunately, less than two months after the show, on October 27th, he passed away. A memorial easel board showed the article which was published last year in the Dodge County Independent shortly after the 2018 event.
Many familiar truck companies were in attendance this year including Jack C. Moss Trucking of Wisconsin, Iron Horse Express from Minnesota, IMT Transport, Tralo Companies, TTI and Long Haul Trucking, to name a few. Not only companies, but known vendors including Roadworks, PDI, Hot Rig Apparel, Iowa Customs, Krugs Towing and Repair, Allstate Peterbilt, Big Rig Tees and Dynaflex Products were also on site. My friend and past cover truck (March 2019) owner Heath Church of 3-C in Oklahoma was there with their recently restored 379, and it looked amazing. If you get the opportunity, make sure to take a good look at it, because they did such a great job keeping this old girl looking classy.
Early afternoon brought the highly anticipated truck parade, which goes through the town of Mantorville, and then returns back to the grounds. I basically sat in the same spot as I did when I attended my first Big Iron Classic back in 2016, which allowed me to get some great photos. A total of 75 trucks participated in this year’s parade, which featured plenty of horn blowing, loud pipes and black smoke.
Upon returning to the grounds, I was able to resume visiting with my friends, Lucas and Heather Ratcliffe, who, along with others, had cooked dinner and were kind enough to save me some. No sooner did I eat it was time to head over to the grandstands for the annual semi-truck pulls.
The truck pulls are a highlight every year, and even more so in recent years, with the addition of the “King of the Hill” pull to earn some extra bragging rights. This event is where the champions in each class (except antique) pull-off against each other. I think the coolest part of the pulls was seeing Elite Diesel’s green daycab making a pass hooked up to the sled. This reminded me of Onaway, MI back in May, at the Great Lakes Big Rig Challenge, as they were/are sponsors and participate in the uphill drags there. The 2019 pulls were sponsored by Referral Collision, Eilen and Sons Trucking, 4 State Trucks/Chrome Shop Mafia, IMT Transport, Rethwisch Transport and Rockwood Products.
As the 2019 semi-truck pulls came to an end, so did the 50/50 raffle that is done every year, with half going to an individual in attendance and the other half going to charity. This year’s winner of the sum of a whopping $4,887 was Scott Michael. I am pretty sure this guy was all smiles for the rest of that evening! As the 2019 show was nearing the end, after the pulls, Colt 45 brought spectators live entertainment to round out the night’s festivities.
Special thanks from the show to everyone who was involved in making the 2019 show a success and to please stay tuned to the Big Iron Classic Truck Show and Charity Drive Facebook page or website for the latest info leading up to the 21st annual show, which is always held on the weekend after Labor Day. Thank you to Jim and Brenda Finn and all the volunteers for their dedication to making this event fun and exciting every year. The registration “fee” to enter a truck is a new unopened toy for a child. There is no fee for the public to attend, but donations are appreciated. Each year, this amazing event collects a big trailer full of toys, which go to deserving children in need and families of children stricken with cancer.
As with most people, after Labor Day weekend, it is kind of the end of summer and with that, nearing the end of truck show season (with exception to the shows in the warmer states). It is always bittersweet when a show ends and everyone heads back to their respective homes or back out to go trucking. It was great to see everyone that I did, but as shows go, there is never enough time to catch up and visit. As always, to all the drivers out there doing the deal, truck safe.
SEMI-TRUCK PULL RESULTS
ANTIQUE CLASS: 1st Blake Westphal, 1971 White 4000 (306.6 feet); 2nd Derek Thoen, 1968 Kenworth W923 (285 feet); 3rd Eric Gostomczik, 1984 International CO9670 (284.8 feet).
ROAD CLASS: 1st Matt Michels, 2000 Western Star (321.1 feet); 2nd Eric Gostomczik, 1985 Peterbilt 359 (309.1 feet); 3rd Nick Lano, 1934 Peterbilt 351 (296.5 feet).
MODIFIED MECHANICAL CLASS: 1st Chet Schug, 1987 Mack Superliner (288.5 feet); 2nd Mike Adams, 1957 Peterbilt (286.5 feet); 3rd Andrew Flaschenriem, 1977 Pete 359 (264.9 feet).
MODIFIED ELECTRONIC CLASS: 1st Brent Hamilton, 1995 Freightliner 120 (317 feet); 2nd Mark Scott, 1992 Freightliner COE (315.5 feet); 3rd Mitchell Scott, 1992 Freightliner COE (297.1 feet).
OPEN CLASS: 1st Dean Holicky, 2006 Pete (280.9 feet); 2nd Pat Eilen, 2005 Pete 379 (270.6 feet); 3rd Luke Cornelius, 1979 Pete 359 (261.8 feet).
BRAGGING RIGHTS PULL-OFF WINNER / ROAD CLASS AND MODIFIED MECHANICAL CLASS: Mike Adams (287.3 feet).
BRAGGING RIGHTS PULL-OFF WINNER / OPEN CLASS AND MODIFIED ELECTRONIC CLASS: Dean Holicky (319.2 feet).