For truckers and fans of the trucking industry, March's Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville was one highlight after another - from Kenworth's latest high-tech truck to another show-stopping performance by the country group, Alabama. Yet another highlight was the appearance at the show by Lisa Thornhill, co-star of TNN's top-rated action drama "18 Wheels of Justice."
During her day at Mid-America, Thornhill signed autographs in Kenworth's booth for over two hours, visited with Kenworth customers, received a tour of the new Kenworth T2000 High-Tech Truck, and was introduced to the crowd at a packed Freedom Hall during the Kenworth-sponsored Alabama concert.
Thornhill, who grew up in the small Kentucky town of Hardinsburg - about an hour from Louisville - says the trucking lifestyle she portrays on TV isn't completely new to her. "I was raised around truckers," she said. "In my family, my uncle and my cousin are both still out on the road."
However, the trucks are another matter. "With the way trucks are today, I think most people would be amazed by how sophisticated they are - especially our high-tech Kenworth T2000. But I've been learning as I go."
A part of that learning process, Lisa relates, was her first time behind the wheel of a big rig. "I really thought I was something behind the wheel of that big rig," she laughed, noting that the Eaton AutoShift® transmission made her first time just a "little easier."
Fans of the show, Thornhill reports, are making the job of producing a realistic show about trucking a "lot easier" thanks to communication with real-life truckers via the Internet. The show's web site (www.18woj.com) generates a lot of traffic from truckdrivers who help "keep us on our toes," Thornhill says. "There are so many truckers who watch the show, and many of them log onto our web site. If something on the show isn't exactly right - even if it's a sticker in the wrong place - believe me, they let us know about it. So I'll take my e-mails to the writers to make sure they're checking their facts."
The show also benefits from guest appearances by real-life truckdrivers and truck fleet executives, who spend a little time in the make-believe world of TV - the everyday world of Lisa and the cast and crew of the show. "It's fun to have these people on the show," Thornhill said. "They enjoy it so much, and it's good for us because we get used to what we do everyday. But we don't really think about how fun our job is until we see it through someone else's eyes. It really gives us an appreciation for our job - and for their jobs."