Wednesday, October 21, 2009

On the scene at Truck Show Latino

Last weekend, I was part of the OOIDA posse that left the nice 39-degree rainy weather in Grain Valley, MO, for the Truck Show Latino in balmy Pomona, CA, where it was 92.

One of the first people I ran into was OOIDA Life Member Frank Pangburn, hiking briskly down the aisle in his mango Crocs, arms full of T-shirts and paperwork. Inside the Fairplex-Pomona, the Truck Show Latino was taking shape, and Frank’s job was to make a success of the Best of the West truck competition. His wife Diana was folding “Truckin’ for Kids” T-shirts and they took a break to fill me in on what was up with the “Best of the West” truck contest. You can read about that on this Web site’s daily news.

Our OOIDA booth and our First Observer booths were in good spots and enjoyed steady traffic, which meant I could cover the show and return to that home base frequently. Joe Rajkovacz had driven the OOIDA tour truck out to the West Coast where he was joined by Bill Rode for a few days. For the truck show, Joe took the “Spirit” through the truck wash and coughed up $68 to make it look good. It was one of the few trucks inside the building with a trailer. And while others might have been more, shall we say, “lavishly” chromed – it was a favorite. Truckers, wives, kids, grandmas, they all took turns being photographed with the show trucks, and the “Spirit” was right in there.

Joe, Tom Weakley, Mike Schermoly, Doreen Weakley and I met so many people. You can read all you want about trucking in California and how confusing the regs are and how unsettling the economy is, but you really don’t realize how overwhelming that is until you get face-to-face and hear it firsthand from the drivers. The industry is awash with misinformation.

While most spoke both English and Spanish, we appreciated having the assistance of our OOIDA Member Maria Escott and her daughter, Aurora. They were an important part of our team, especially when we talked to a driver who was more comfortable speaking Spanish about a complicated topic like lease arrangements.

If you think you have questions, the truckers in California have a thousand more.

The California Air Resources Board was there and truckers lined up three deep at their booth to ask questions. Les Simonson, manager of Heavy Duty Diesel Enforcement, told me the main question was about DPFs and retrofit. Another CARB guy, Ching Chun Yang, said many questions were about the TRU program, which has an upcoming deadline.

One of the highlights for me was being there when the Carnegie Institute awarded the medal of heroism to OOIDA Member Jorge Orozco-Sanchez. As most of you know, he was the Goodyear Highway Hero 2008. He and his wife, Susie, and two children, Robert and Lorena, live in Firestone, CO. On Friday, they were guests aboard the Goodyear blimp (yes, kids, too). On Saturday at noon, the Carnegie medal was awarded in a ceremony hosted by Goodyear.