Cool show

One of Aus­tralia’s most unique truck events and ar­guably the most pop­u­lar in Vic­to­ria, the Alexandra Truck, Ute and Rod Show hit a mile­stone year in 2017. Greg Bush writes

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Jake and Amy Maun­der were among thou­sands to at­tend the 2017 Alexandra Truck, Ute and Rod Show

“It seems to grow ev­ery year”

DE­SPITE THE morn­ing chill in the air on June 11, Alexandra Truck, Ute and Rod Show co-founder Andrew Em­bling was all smiles as he warmed up for what was go­ing to be an­other suc­cess­ful event.

This day, how­ever, was ex­tra spe­cial. It was the show’s 21st birth­day, and ma­jor spon­sor Larsen’s Truck Sales had a bonus in store for the event’s or­gan­is­ers.

As the clock struck 10am, Andrew was clearly de­lighted with the num­ber of trucks that had al­ready parked along Grant Street, the town’s main thor­ough­fare.

“It’s only early, the show has just kicked off and we’ve got trucks ev­ery­where,” Andrew smiles. “We’ve got trucks still com­ing in, we’ve still got trucks com­ing out of Mel­bourne.”

As it is now, the first show was held on the Queen’s Birth­day long week­end in June. The year was 1996.

“We started off 21 years ago on a foggy, wet win­ter’s day in Alexandra,” Andrew con­tin­ues.

“You’d be lucky to have 200 peo­ple in the town on a Queen’s Birth­day Sun­day, and we’ve come along where we’ve built it up to where we’ve got 12,000 to 14,000 peo­ple come to our event an­nu­ally.”

Along with Gor­don Simp­son, Andrew, who was born and bred in Alexandra, is one of two re­main­ing of the orig­i­nal truck show com­mit­tee. He puts the show’s con­tin­ued suc­cess down to a va­ri­ety of fac­tors.

“It’s the in­ter­est in trucks, it’s the in­ter­est in utes, it’s the in­ter­est in the cham­pi­onship wood­chop,” Andrew con­tin­ues. “We have 52 en­tries in the wood­chip this year, that’s the best we’ve ever had.”

It wasn’t long, how­ever, be­fore he was pro­claim­ing this year’s event was “one of the big­gest shows that we’ve had”. “It seems to grow ev­ery year.” While VicForests spon­sors the wood­chop event, it’s the truck deal­er­ships’ gen­eros­ity which has lifted the show to be­come ar­guably the best of its kind in Vic­to­ria.

This year, Larsen’s Truck Sales man­ag­ing direc­tor Dave Larsen upped his com­pany’s spon­sor­ship from $10,000 to $15,000.

“Dave has been with us over many years, but only over the last three years as Larsen’s,” Andrew says. “Be­fore that he was with an­other com­pany, but he came back and stuck with us.

“He was with us for the third year of our truck show and has done a lot for us. You wouldn’t get a bet­ter

“We started off 21 years ago on a foggy, wet win­ter’s day in Alexandra ... we’ve built it up to where we’ve got 12,000 to 14,000 peo­ple come to our event an­nu­ally”

bloke in the in­dus­try, and I’m not say­ing that be­cause I’ve got a cheque in my hand.”

As well as the spon­sor­ship, Larsen’s Truck Sales had nine trucks on show in Alexandra’s main street.

This in­cluded a stun­ning bright red 1984 Ken­worth SAR nick­named ‘The Boss’, a re­stored ‘Su­per­fast’ Ken­worth also built in the ’80s, a Western Star, an im­pres­sive blue Mack Su­per-Liner and a Peter­bilt which Dave im­ported from Cal­i­for­nia. He bought ‘The Boss’ a year ago.

“It was an orig­i­nal two-owner ve­hi­cle, and then Trans­matt Truck De­tail­ing did a full restora­tion for us. Andrew [St­ef­fensen] is a whiz. It’s a beau­ti­ful truck,” Dave says.

He ex­plains that the truck, orig­i­nally painted green, came from Clon­curry, Queens­land, which is where it earned its moniker.

“It was called ‘The Boss’ be­cause it was one of those tough trucks, so we’ve con­tin­ued with the name.”

Dave also bought the Peter­bilt around a year ago, one of its dis­tin­guish­able fea­tures be­ing a Gomez Broth­ers logo on the rear of the cab.

“The Gomez Broth­ers were the guys I bought it off out of Cal­i­for­nia, and they’re good guys,” Dave says. “So I said ‘I’ll put your name on it’, and they were pretty ex­cited about that.”

He says the show is more about ex­po­sure for his busi­ness, rather than the hard sell.

“You don’t do it to sell trucks, you do it for brand­ing, to get your name out,” Dave ex­plains.

“This is about peo­ple, this show, and Andrew Em­bling is one of those good, hard-work­ing peo­ple you don’t get in some other places.”

As well as Larsen’s ma­jor con­tri­bu­tion, Andrew was chuffed that an­other one of the show’s spon­sors, Hal­lam Truck Cen­tre, had man­aged to bor­row the Ken­worth 900 Legend No. 1 from Paccar head­quar­ters in Mel­bourne for the week­end.

“There’s only one other truck show that it’s been to and that was the Bris­bane Truck Show.

“Now we’ve got it here, so they’ve done a fan­tas­tic job.”

Ac­cord­ing to Hal­lam Truck Cen­tre gen­eral man­ager Daniel Craw­ford, the 900 Legend is des­tined for the Ken­worth Dealer Hall of Fame in Alice Springs, a pavil­ion which is jointly funded by Paccar and the dealer net­work.

“We’re try­ing to save a few of these gems for pos­ter­ity, to join the other iconic mod­els and old trucks that are up there.

“I can’t re­call the ex­act count, but we’re def­i­nitely into dou­ble dig­its of brand new trucks sit­ting in the hall.”

As per the Bris­bane Truck Show, the Ken­worth Legend dis­played a plaque to Alan ‘Steady’ Stead, who passed away ear­lier this year.

“It’s re­ally a tes­ta­ment to Steady who worked at Ken­worth for a lot of years, par­tic­u­larly around the ser­vice depart­ment, mak­ing sure the longevity of the prod­uct was there,” Daniel says. “The fac­tory and the dealer group re­ally owe a lot to Steady for his con­tri­bu­tion.”

As well as its show spon­sor­ship, the CMV-owned Hal­lam Truck Cen­tre also con­trib­utes to the main­te­nance of the Vic­to­rian Truck Driv­ers Memo­rial, sit­u­ated in Ro­tary Park off Grant St. It also helps with fund­ing for plaques.

“It’s a good thing to be able to ac­knowl­edge those that have con­trib­uted so heav­ily to the in­dus­try,” Daniel says.

As well as the Legend 900, Hal­lam Truck Cen­tre showed off the lat­est T610, al­ready in the ranks of PacLease Truck Ren­tal and Leas­ing. The truck had pre­vi­ously been part of the Vic­to­ria Camp Qual­ity Con­voy this year.

“We’ve put all the safety fea­tures in it so it can match all the Euro­pean trucks,” Daniel ex­plains.

“Peo­ple have a per­cep­tion that Ken­worth is just the her­itage and the badge, but we can meet ev­ery­thing with re­gards to safety.”

All up, it was a big day for Ken­worth at Alexandra, with Paul Pat­suris’ 2016 Ken­worth T909 tak­ing out the Tel­stra Peo­ple’s Choice award as well as be­ing voted the Best Truck of the Show.

‘Woody’, the for­mer Clash of the Ti­tans com­batan t. Wayne Hawkes bought it, painted it and added it to the Tai­lored Freight fleet, al­though the ‘Woody’ steel strip stain­less re­mains

Show co-founder Andrew Em­bling and show com­mit­tee pres­i­dent Caolan O’Con­nor

This old Mack has plenty of grunt up front

Photo by David McKen­zie

Paul Pat­suris (left) and Nicholas Pat­suris from Pat­suris Pre­mium Pro­duce col­lect the Rig of the Show award.

Larsen’s Truck Sales hands over the spon­sor­ship cheque, from left: Tay­lah Larsen, Andrew Em­bling, Larsen’s Truck Sales’ MD Dave Larsen, Jake Larsen, Brad Larsen and show com­mit­tee pres­i­dent Caolan O’Con­nor

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