It’s a ‘wheel’ game of skill

Trucks vi­tal in­gre­di­ent in arena show

Big Rigs - - NEWS - Kirstin Payne kirstin.payne@bi­grigs.com.au

DAVID Man­chon may look ev­ery bit a cow­boy and en­ter­tainer, but the di­rec­tor of arena spec­tac­u­lar Rooftop Ex­press could also be likened to a mod­ern day Noah, re­spon­si­ble for fer­ry­ing all crea­tures great and small across the na­tion as part of the wild west show, show­cas­ing he­roes of the out­back.

By crea­tures great and small we mean more than 53 horses, cat­tle, dogs and even a don­key, all part of his per­form­ing team.

His “ark” is a pair of re­cently bought IVECOs, a Euro­cargo ML180, and 160 which pull the spe­cially de­signed goose neck, an­other vi­tal in­gre­di­ent in the per­for­mance.

The ve­hi­cles, from Black Truck Sales Toowoomba, also take pride of place dur­ing the show, act­ing as an el­e­vated plat­form.

“We have two trucks on the arena dur­ing the show, and the cus­tom goose neck put to­gether by Er­rol Thomas from Thomas man­u­fac­tur­ing in Dalby,” the Lock­yer lo­cal said.

“It has been set up so we can jump cat­tle and horses on to the roof of the trailer.

“I run a horse up there with­out a bri­dle as we move.

“It is the only horse in the world to be do­ing that so the trailer needs to be sturdy.

“Ob­vi­ously to do that it has had to be re­in­forced with steel, and is very heavy, the bul­locks that jump on the roof all weigh about 930kg each. So we were fairly spe­cific with the truck we needed to haul that around.”

The Long Ranger stunt, fea­tured at the 140th Ekka in Bris­bane, also show­cases man, animal and ma­chine.

“The Euro­cargo pulls trailer around the arena with lad­der on the side,” David said.

“It trav­els at about 45km an hour and it is a rea­son­ably tight arena so it is a big unit to be in that arena at that pace.

“At the same time a horse­man gal­lops along the side of the trailer, jumps off the horse, climbs up, mov­ing along the roof of the goose neck, set­ting fire­works off.

“It is quite a dan­ger­ous stunt so we are re­ly­ing on the skill of the driver to watch that horse and look af­ter that rider as he comes along the side of that trailer, and ob­vi­ously the skill of the horse and rider as they come along the truck.

“There are a lot of mov­ing parts in the show and those trucks are front and cen­tre in ev­ery­thing we do.”

The team be­gan putting to­gether the show at David’s Mount Mort prop­erty in 2010, launch­ing it in 2012.

“We just keep grow­ing and chang­ing from there,” he said.

In that time the spec­tac­u­lar has wowed fans and gained no­to­ri­ety Aus­tralia-wide.

Yet, de­spite the fame and ex­pe­ri­ence of ap­pear­ing ev­ery­where from Out­back Spec­tac­u­lar to To­tally Wild, David said he never thought he would ap­pear in some­thing like Big Rigs.

“I am cer­tainly not a per­son who knows a lot about trucks, or is par­tic­u­larly fa­mil­iar with them, but through this show be­cause we rely on them so much I have had to get a bit fa­mil­iar,” he said.

“Ev­ery­thing we have is cus­tom built be­cause of the re­fined na­ture of the show we have.

“There are lots of lit­tle things like that.

“In the early days you don’t think about it, but as you go along you get to re­fine it and learn on the road.”

PHO­TOS: KIRSTIN PAYNE / CON­TRIBUTED

THE RIGHT TOOLS FOR THE JOB: David Man­chon of Rooftop Ex­press needs the right gear to move his cross-coun­try show out west, up north and be­yond.

Per­former An­thony Cootes.

The team showed off new rigs at the Ekka.

The spe­cialised Rooftop Ex­press trailer in ac­tion.

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