The “Beerman Bash” was held in Carlinville, IL the weekend of July 10-11, 2020 at Mickey Gwillim’s place. He has a nice little spread just west of Carlinville, and it was an excellent place to have a truck gathering to help raise some funds and show support for a fellow trucker/friend going through some medical issues making him unable to work. Mickey’s place has a lot of open space at the back of his property, and plenty of room to park trucks of all sizes, with or without trailers. There is even some very old Peterbilt iron (Mickey’s personal parts department) parked in a line on the edge of his property!
It was another hot weekend in central and southern Illinois. It is the start of the “dog days of summer” as some call it. Throughout the weekend, we experienced lots of sun, temps in the 90s, and high humidity. The whole purpose of this event was to raise money for Dave “Beerman” Brewer to help defer medical costs for a health issue he’s dealing with at this stage in his life. As some might remember, “Beerman” and his classic Peterbilt have graced the cover of 10-4 Magazine twice – once in 1998 when the truck was painted green and gold in the colors of Passport Transport (a high-end automotive carrier that he was leased to), and once in 2013 painted in the current scheme of red and cream. This cover in September of 2013 was our special 20th anniversary edition, so “Beerman” and his truck hold a special place in our 10-4 hearts.
I met up with Mickey on the night prior to the official start of the event. He gave me a tour of his property and buildings. Mickey is a classic traditionalist. He has a sentimental side that is evident in the collectibles that he has secured over the years. I was particularly impressed with the guest house he built near his main residence and swimming pool area. In this guest residence, he has a bathroom with wallpaper of all types of big trucks. On the wall, he has a poster of the Man in Black, Johnny Cash, on a Peterbilt Pride in Class poster from 1979 that is framed. It is one of the coolest Peterbilt posters I’ve ever seen and, according to Mickey, hard to find these days. Mickey is an avid collector of all things Peterbilt – especially 359s. There are also many reminders of Route 66, which used to run just down the road from him east of Carlinville, around his house and property.
The first evening I was at Mickey’s I met and spoke to the man for whom this event was organized – the legend himself, Dave “Beerman” Brewer and his longtime partner Deb. As I entered Mickey’s property off the highway, Beerman’s infamous 1970 needle-nose Peterbilt 358-A, painted in its recognizable red and cream colors, with a custom 120” Double Eagle sleeper with the first-ever back door, was parked right out front. For a classic Pete that has now reached its 50th birthday, it’s in very good shape. Our conversation was informal and interesting, as it was fun to learn about this legendary trucker and his famous rig.
In his early 20s, Dave became very interested in custom vans and purchased a Dodge and highly customized it. He showed me pictures of his Dodge van, which was painted yellow and red, and it was nice. He told me that he participated in custom van shows, including several national events, for many years. He talked about all the good times he had with his custom van back in the 1970s. Those memories he shared with me were entertaining and funny. It was obvious that this was a special time in his life.
Starting his driving career working for a Miller Beer distributorship in Tulsa, OK, Dave began as a delivery driver, but was later promoted into a supervisory position. He told me that he worked there several years and really liked the people who owned the distributorship – and this is where he got his start driving trucks. “Beerman” earned his nickname while making his beer deliveries early on in his career. When he made stops at local businesses, he was often referred to by this nickname, so he approached his boss at the time and asked to have “Beerman” stitched on his work shirt. His boss agreed, and from that point on, he was “Beerman”!
After leaving his career in the beer distribution field behind, Dave began his long and memorable career in trucking. Over the years, Beerman has worked for several companies that specialize in hauling custom, high-end, expensive vehicles. From exotics, to American classics, to concepts created by the major automotive manufacturers, Dave has hauled them all, including a unique 1928 Mercedes “Torpedo” Roadster with a 6-liter supercharged engine, which had just been sold at an auction for $7.5 million!
Many truck driving friends of Mickey and Beerman showed up for this truck show and fund-raiser. Some of the more notable attendees were Dave and Paul Marcotte of Marcotte Farms in Momence, Illinois, with their beautiful and recognizable red and black Peterbilts. Also in attendance was Dave Schroyer of Celina, Ohio, with one of his newer 2018 Peterbilt 389s with a 70” sleeper, painted in his identifiable classic blue tri-color paint scheme. I spent some time with Dave Schroyer, and he gave me the background on some of his trucks on loan to the I-80 Truck Museum in Walcott, IA (he has an extensive and amazing collection of older trucks).
Other notable people at Mickey’s get-together, along with their trucks, was Don Emmons from southern Illinois and his sharp black and white 1998 Peterbilt 379. Hailing from Russell Springs, Kentucky, were Charles and Ethan Hale with their 1986 Peterbilt 359 that was recently restored by Mickey and sold to the Hales. Wow, what a gorgeous truck, with a very interesting story. The truck was originally ordered by Johnny Cash himself, but when “The Man in Black” didn’t take it, the Hale family bought it. They later sold it, and then Mickey found it and restored it. After making him an offer he couldn’t refuse, the truck is back in the Hale family in Kentucky where it belongs.
I also met Barry “Gi-tarman” Myers who is the owner of a sweet looking black and white 1967 K100 cabover. Barry owns a body shop and is a renowned painter and body man for cars and trucks. Barry has painted many of the trucks Mickey has built, and this guy was really fun to spend time with. Heitzig Trucking out of Fieldon, IL was very well represented at this event, as they had several of their sharp trucks parked on Mickey’s grass and on display.
There were several different ways the fundraising was accomplished at this event. K&J Food Service had a trailer at the event and provided food for the participants and attendees. A portion of the proceeds went to the fund established for Beerman’s medical expenses. In addition, there were several products and services donated and then auctioned off, with the proceeds going to Beerman, including a customized golf cart. Other businesses contributing to the auction were Prairie Farms Dairy, Heitzig Trucking, and many other local businesses, that were generous with their donations. There was also a trailer dispensing beer, wine, and mixed drinks. I discovered that one of the popular drinks of the weekend was pickle shots – a combination of vodka and dill pickle juice. Apparently, many shots of this unique drink were bought and consumed.
Overall, this was a fun and eventful weekend, in spite of the hot southern Illinois weather. There were a good number of very nice trucks at this event, and it was a true celebration of trucking family and friends, all getting together to help out our good friend Dave “Beerman” Brewer. Thanks go out to Mickey Gwillim for being a gracious host and for making it all happen. We hope the money raised and the fun times help Beerman get through this difficult time and get him back to doing what he loves most – trucking!