This year at the Large Cars & Guitars Truck Show II, held on May 5-7 in Kodak, TN, there was a higher power in charge of bringing the beautiful weather – and that power was shining brighter than the sun all weekend long. This show is about a cause very near to Tony Justice’s heart. For those who don’t know, Tony’s wife Misty is a breast cancer survivor. Misty has believed in, encouraged, and supported Tony’s music from the beginning. But that had to be put on hold while she fought for her life, and with Tony being there for her, she won that fight, and for that, we are all very grateful.
Inspired by her fight, Tony wrote the song “War Paint” and, if you haven’t heard it yet, you better grab a box of Kleenex. When he had the idea of having a truck show to benefit Susan G. Komen, an organization that focuses on patient navigation and advocacy, providing resources for breast cancer patients to understand the medical system, and funds research into the causes and treatment of breast cancer, they called their friend Evan Steger of Evan’s Detailing & Polishing to see if he would be willing to help on a project this big. Before he even knew what the “favor” was, Evan said, “I’m in.”
Roadworks was the title sponsor for the Large Cars & Guitars II show this year, and Chad Violet was there with their show truck “Against The Wind” that was built in remembrance of our friend Troy Huddleston. We lost a great ambassador to the trucking industry last year, but events like this are what Troy was all about. We can do a lot of good by following the example he left. This event combined a truck show with several live concerts, for one unforgettable weekend of fun.
The stage, sponsored by Massey Motor Freight LLC., was set up behind the stadium the Tennessee Smokies baseball team calls home. A few trucks were circled in front of the stage, and then the show coordinators, Evan and his crew Levi Yates and Anthony Buss, started filling up the parking lot until the total reached 175 trucks, doubling what they had there last year at the first show. The list of entertainers did what it was billed to do – they filled the lot and Rocked the Smokies!
The entertainment lineup was kicked off Friday afternoon by our friend Taylor Barker, followed by Long Haul Paul, Elvis, Robbie Hopkins, and ended with William Michael Morgan, along with the Fire on the Mountain Light Show. Saturday evening Steven Molanders was first up, followed by former truck driver and country music superstar Aaron Tippin. Aaron’s show didn’t include just singing, he was very funny, explaining why he couldn’t live in Brentwood, TN with a lot of the other country stars because he has too much “junk” in his yard. I’d like to think of it as too many really old big boy toys, and some don’t appreciate these old pieces of equipment as much as we do.
Along with his music, Aaron shared stories about his dad, and how when he passed away his beautiful wife Thea told him they had to write another song for his dad. He told her she was wrong – they had written all the songs for his dad! It takes a real man to stand up on that stage and say, “She was right, again,” and then they sang the song “I Believe” that they wrote for his dad. Aaron and Thea met in 1990 and have been lovestruck ever since. His hit “Kiss This” was inspired by a fight they had when he came off the road once, and he was trying to tell her how to cook. If you haven’t seen Aaron live and you get a chance, get the tickets, because he puts on a great show.
The Fire on the Mountain Light Show was going on while Aaron was signing autographs and taking selfies. Then, it was time for Tony Justice to take the stage and, during his set, it was the first time Tony and Aaron sang the song “Brothers of the Highway” together since they recorded it in the studio in 2016. The crowd loved it and went wild! The setting for this show was appropriate because it’s definitely in a league of its own. The only judges here are the kids, and the truck they pick as their favorite has a guitar painted to match their truck instead of a trophy. With rags down and no judging, it was time for truckers to have fun and catch up with old friends, make new friends, and enjoy what we predict to become a “family reunion” each year.
Bullsnot was one of the event’s major sponsors, and Vann Brown was there with a complete line of Bullsnot products available in the booth to make windows bug free, paint shiny, tires buttery, and aluminum gleaming – he even has a product to soften your hands after doing all the work! You can read more about Vann and his awesome products developed for truckers in the June 2022 Trucker Talk.
Thursday night there was a BBQ sponsored by Howes that had Travis Lucas Griffin manning the smoker. Serving a meal featuring pulled pork, chicken, mac and cheese, potato salad, coleslaw, baked beans and rolls, the food was awesome. Travis came in 3rd in a BBQ contest in St Louis a few years ago, and now he has a YouTube channel called “Master Chef Truckin” where he works on healthy and easy meals you can make in the truck.
Friday morning, I was walking around, when the early risers were just getting up and going. I saw this girl rocking the ‘70s look – it was great then and is still cool today. Saturday, we finally got to meet Dani Coulter and her husband Chad. She was still rocking the 70s and Chad showed us the tattoo on his forearm that says, “Brothers of the Highway, Child of the Wind.” Dani and Chad drove to Tennessee from their home north of Bangor, ME to be at this show. They’re an adorable couple that we now call friends.
For those who needed or wanted a little professional polishing done, Bison Detailing had their mobile unit at the show, and they did a top-notch job on every truck they cleaned. Their permanent location is in Atlanta, GA, so if you’re in their area, give them a call at (678) 330-0984. They offer both interior and exterior detailing, along with polishing, and so much more.
Food City, another major sponsor, had a HUGE motor driven grocery cart and gave people rides around the show lot during the event. We didn’t get to ride in it, but every time we saw it, everyone looked like they were having fun. I hope they come back next year, and we can take a spin in it.
There was a bobtail only convoy on Saturday, with the exception of the lead truck and trailer, that was owned by Swaggerty’s Sausage Company, another major sponsor of the show. This was one of those moments when the higher power was there. Tony insisted that Evan stop what he was doing and check the parade route – he had a bad feeling, and he was right. The route had trees too low to clear, even for just bobtails, so they made a slight deviation to the route, and the convoy went off without a hitch.
Tony talked to Mrs. Rebecca Cowen with the Sevier County Sheriff’s Department, and she told him they had never worked a show of this magnitude and not had any drama or incidents. She and the other officers working the show said they couldn’t count the number of drivers who stopped and thanked them for their service and asked if they needed food or water.
Jason Akers with Gates Trucking won the Kid’s Choice Best of Show. The goal of the event is to show the general motoring public that we are more than the truck they see rolling down the road. I’ve said for years, “There is nothing like little kids and big trucks!” Seeing their faces when they get to blow the horn and letting them sit up in the driver’s seat so mom and dad can take a picture is priceless. Jason catered to the kids all weekend – he had Baby Shark and other kid music playing all weekend and invested a lot of time talking to the families that stopped by his truck. He earned that guitar, and we can’t wait to see it finished!
The show couldn’t go on without all the sponsors and volunteers who helped put it together and made it run so smoothly. Lacey Burt is the show director, Audrey Russell is the CFO, and Robert Barnette put on the bear suit and became Truckin’ Teddy to the delight of many kids and drivers. At the end of the show, the approximate amount of money raised at the auction on Saturday and other donations to give to the Susan G. Komen Foundation ended up being $45,000.
The show ended with the full moon rising in the east and a fantastic fireworks display, that the Bennett Family of Companies sponsored, going off in the west. It was a picture-perfect show, and the only thing that could even be remotely considered wrong is there just wasn’t enough time. Everyone we talked to is already looking forward to next year, and we’ll be making our plans to be there as soon as the dates for 2024 are announced, as well.