Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A deft toast to the Left Coast

This year the Truck Show Latino got a new name: Golden State Trucking Expo. It was a change intended to send an invite to all truckers to attend this annual Southern California event. It worked.

The event took place Oct. 16-17 in Pomona at the Fairplex. The Latino truckers, family and friends remained loyal attendees, and a diverse stream of others showed up to enjoyed the event as well.

At the First Observer booth, OOIDA’s Director of Regulatory Affairs Joe Rajkovacz and I were on hand to introduce truckers who were not familiar with First Observer to the TSA security program for truckers.

Next door at the OOIDA booth, Mike Schermoly and Land Line Now Host Mark Reddig met hundreds of truckers and signed up a good bunch of new members. Mark dived headfirst into the festive ambiance of this show, showed off his dusty-but-not-bad Spanish, and discovered California-style chili cheese fries with jalapenos could have consequences.

The place was packed with OOIDA members. California Members Jose and Maria Escott joined the crew at the OOIDA booth to help, along with their daughter, Helen.

Senior Member Jon Osburn of Boise, ID, was there with the St. Christopher Fund “MeRV.” The Harley momma seen on the back of Osburn’s Harley Saturday night may or may not have been been me.

OOIDA Life Members Roger and Heather Hogeland of Yucaipa worked the Women In Trucking booth, along with OOIDA Support Member Antoinette Martinez, truck attorney with the American Defense Lawyers Association.

With aisles of exhibitors like Arrow Truck Sales, Centramatics, R.J. Taylor’s Ol’ Blue and Internet Truckstop, the joint was pretty much jumpin’. Even the California Air Resources Board had a booth there. And from what members told us, they were getting an earful from truckers.

The Truckin’ for Kids posse was there, headed up by OOIDA Life Member Frank Pangburn and wife Diana, Priest River, ID. The 30th annual Truckin’ for Kids Drags is scheduled Oct. 24 at the Toyota Speedway in Irwindale.

OOIDA members who pilot some of the top show trucks in North America showed up to participate and to compete in the Best of the West show truck contest. Show producer Roger Sherrard told Mark that it’s clear that the show is “on the grow” and that the Fairplex has “plenty of room for us to do that.”

When our OOIDA crew arrived Friday to do a little pre-opening snoop, we found OOIDA Member Randy Rebillard and wife Jona of Pembina, ND, hard at work cleaning up “Tired Iron.” Rebillard’s truck has a stained glass rear window crafted by Jona that’s a knockout. The Rebillards think way outside the box with the stunning features on this truck. They don’t overwhelm you with all the design elements, but the ones they have incorporated into this working truck are spectacularly clever. The pewter-toned molded tin tiles that make up the ceiling of the truck’s cab? Who does that? Randy and Jona didn’t come to California to compete; they were helping Best of the West competition organizer Bud Farquhar with the show.

OOIDA Member Michael Most, Peoria, AZ, sent his popular truck “Legends and Heroes” to California with driver Nick Mitchell. Aside from being a big fave with the kids, Nick picked up a best award for Paint and Body in the working division and a best award for Interior. The yellow 1998 Freightliner Classic also won a new award called the Overall Extra Special Award.

OOIDA Members Bob and Shelley Brinker rolled in from Grayling, MI, with the “Legend of the Black Pearl,” a 2000 Freightliner Classic XL. The judges scored this truck high, awarding Brinkers the “best” working truck in the Aluminum/Chrome/Stainless class; best in Engine class. The points accumulated in these classes earned them the Best of Show working division trophy – a knockout showpiece that is the signature work of Carl Carstens, Rockwood Products.

OOIDA Member Jerry Kissinger of Cottage Grove, WI, showed off the 1991 Mack SuperLiner he calls “Thumper,” and won the Driver Award, an award that is a driver presentation award. This is a cool award. It gives kudos to the driver who best presents the truck to the judges and as far as I know has nothing to do with how much candy you give the judges.

All day Saturday, attendees voted on their favorite truck. Jerry earned 36 percent of the People’s Choice votes, making Thumper the crowd favorite and trophy winner.

In the limited mileage categories, Isaac Aguilar and the 1992 burgundy Peterbilt 379 known as “Still Deliriouz” captured five Best awards for Sandvik Trucking and Bill Sandvik and wife Marie from Valley Center, CA. Points earned with these top scores earned Isaac the Best of Show limited mileage division. The Sandviks are cool people. Bill has been an OOIDA member since ’03.

On Saturday night, Sandvik Trucking treated show truck contestants, exhibitors and others to a Mexican food buffet on the fairgrounds, which was prepared by Bill and Marie’s drivers and their families.

Sandviks have more than two dozen trucks, more than a dozen now working, and their drivers – who become part of the Sandvik family – are Hispanic. Those drivers, including show winner Isaac Aguilar, put on a buffet of chopped honey pollo, beans, rice with everything from guacamole, fresh salsa, chopped cilantro and freshly cut limes. Even Isaac’s mom, Annie, helped with the feast. With the serapes and table settings, they get five stars for presentation.

For me, it could not have said “California hospitality” better.