Out of Amer­ica

New Zealand Truck & Driver - - Contents - Story & pho­tos North Amer­i­can cor­re­spon­dent Steve Sturgess

North Amer­i­can cor­re­spon­dent Steve Sturgess has been ogling the stars of the USA’s beauty con­test for trucks

ATORNADO AND TORRENTIAL RAIN IN TULSA, Ok­la­homa, can’t spoil the fun of North Amer­ica’s an­nual beauty con­test for trucks – the Shell Rotella Su­perRigs 2017.

The 36th stag­ing of the show at­tracts the usual sus­pects, plus some ex­cit­ing new ones – de­spite the fore­cast bad weather.

In fact, even the threat of tor­na­dos doesn’t put en­trants off – just cre­ates a day one rush for the judg­ing line as en­trants try to avoid the worst of the pre­dicted bad weather.

In all, no fewer than 43 trucks out of the to­tal of 66 en­tered pass by the judges on day one.

The lights judg­ing is meant to be held on the first evening of the three-day event, but the weather is so bad that most of the con­tes­tants and Shell staff are in the storm shel­ters: A tor­nado has been spot­ted close to the ex­hi­bi­tion and eques­trian grounds.

More bad weather is pre­dicted for day two but it holds off just long enough to get the judg­ing com­pleted be­fore the heav­ens open up again with the mother and father of a down­pour.

That sees the judges – Jami Jones from Lan­d­line, Cliff Ab­bot re­port­ing for The Trucker, Eric Har­ley from Dal­las-based Red Eye Ra­dio, and me – rac­ing

back to the ho­tel for a change into some dry clothes and a few bev­er­ages to re­pair the dam­age.

Judg­ing con­tin­ues on the third day, with the line clos­ing at 11.30am to al­low time to down­load the scores from the tablets used by the judges. Win­ners are sin­gled out in the three classes – trac­tor, trac­tor-trailer and clas­sic – and in the special cat­e­gories for low mileage, non-work­ing and show…

And for lights, in­te­rior, en­gine and theme. And to qual­ify for prizes – more than $40,000 worth – trucks have to be work­ing and proven so, with proper doc­u­men­ta­tion, odome­ter read­ings and so on. To back-stop this, Doug Mor­ris – di­rec­tor of gov­ern­ment af­fairs from OOIDA, the num­ber one United States owner-op­er­a­tor as­so­ci­a­tion – and a longterm en­force­ment of­fi­cer with all the right con­nec­tions are also on hand to ver­ify con­tes­tants’ claims.

There are three best-of-show awards that

in­clude two run­ners up. So th­ese win­ners are se­lected from their dif­fer­ent cat­e­gories, ac­cord­ing to their scores.

And the scores are in­cred­i­bly close, with a cou­ple of ties and no more than 50 points out of a max­i­mum of 500 cov­er­ing the top con­tenders.

Judg­ing is on the ba­sis of the over­all im­pres­sion cre­ated by the truck and by the cre­ativ­ity and work­man­ship in­volved in get­ting it ready to show. It’s al­ways an in­ter­na­tional af­fair, with some amaz­ing trucks com­ing down from Canada for the event. We’ve yet to see an en­try from Mex­ico, but it likely won’t be long be­fore we do.

Wis­con­sin trucker Bill Reth­wisch takes the top hon­ours with his fuel hauler – the Reth­wisch fam­ily truck­ing com­pany putting so much ef­fort into its work­ing trucks that it’s ac­tu­ally a past win­ner.

This time they not only claim Best of Show with their 2016 Peter­bilt 389….they also take out the

awards for best in­te­rior and best en­gine as well.

Says Reth­wisch af­ter his $15,000 win (cour­tesy of Shell Rotella and MAC Trail­ers) – plus a place in Shell Rotella’s an­nual cal­en­dar – is an­nounced: “My heart was com­ing out of my chest. I didn’t think we had it.

“This is the third time in four years and four times in the (Su­per Rigs) cal­en­dar out of four tries. I’m ec­static right now. I’m so proud, I don’t even know which way to think.”

The en­gine in the Pete is, by the way, a twostage tur­bocharged Cummins ISX15 with bet­ter than 750-horse­power. Re­mark­ably, the Reth­wisch team even man­ages to keep the chromed tur­bos pol­ished…. where nor­mally chrome will tar­nish and blue.

Iowa trucker J.R. Sch­leuger’s 1980 Ken­worth W900A wins him the $7000 for Best of Show

First Run­ner-up hon­ours, while the 1997 Peter­bilt 379 and its 2015 Reit­nouer trailer en­tered by Wis­con­sin’s Ken­neth Fisher is the sec­ond run­nerup… and wins $4000. T&D

is pic: Bill Reth­wisch’s spec­tac­u­lar 2016 Peter­bilt – a hard-work­ing fuel hauler, is judged the Best of Show

Above: Re­mark­ably, the Reth­wisch Pete also wins the awards for Best En­gine and Best In­te­rior - with a suit­ably dressed Cummins ISX...and a stereo so ex­pen­sive he could have bought a match­ing pickup truck for less!

Be­low: Brad Garet­son’s 2016 Peter­bilt 389 and 2017 MAC Flatbed Con­estoga take the top trac­tor-trailer prize

Above right: In­cred­i­ble paint and at­ten­tion to de­tail pro­pels Lil’ Ray and Susie Ro­driquez’ 1999 Pete, Uno Mas, to top trac­tor win

Above left: e show-stop­per fea­tures spec­tac­u­lar dragon images on cab, sleeper, guards and bon­net….and inside, on the oor. Unos Mas is Span­ish for “one more”

Above: You want a BIG sleeper, you say? Try this for size: Re­li­able Car­ri­ers’ 6x4 Peter­bilt, with its mon­ster sleeper, tows a car hauler ded­i­cated to mov­ing high-value col­lec­tor cars and pro­to­types

Bot­tom left: J.R. Sch­leuger keeps this 1980 Ken­worth W900A in im­pec­ca­ble shape – and is re­warded with Best of Show First Run­ner-up hon­ours, plus Best Chrome

Bot­tom right: Out­stand­ing show prepa­ra­tion and creative paint on 1997 Peter­bilt 379 earns Ken­neth Fisher Best of Show Sec­ond Run­ner-up

Left: Arkansas en­trant Bran­don Avant’s stun­ning-look­ing

2010 Peter­bilt 379 wins lim­ited mileage di­vi­sion – but is in­el­i­gi­ble for the top awards be­cause the truck only pulls lim­ited loads be­tween shows

Bot­tom: Jayme and Whit­ney Snow ex­tended the cab on their 1999 Clas­sic XL Freight­liner...get re­warded with the Clas­sic di­vi­sion win

Top & above left: Jake Robakis, a Min­nesota po­lice o cer and trucker, wins the show’s Best eme award with this 2006 Peter­bilt 379 and Cot­trel Car

Car­rier ded­i­cated to fallen po­lice­men

Above right: En­trant Al Toc­chi’s favourite truck, a 1956 Mack LTL, doesn’t work....so doesn’t qual­ify for any awards

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