by René Tankersley, feature editor
While revving up for Louisville, you’ll need to do some warm-up exercises — head nods for those conversations with recruiters and gadget sales reps, arm curls for hauling around bags of giveaways and literature, arm waving for the concerts, and, of course, leg stretches for all the walking you’ll do. Don’t forget your favorite walking shoes, too.
The 2003 Mid-America Trucking Show will be the 32nd edition of the industry’s show of shows. With more than a million square feet of exhibit space, show organizers expect to surpass last year’s numbers — 980 exhibiting companies and 68,164 attendees.
There’s plenty to do and see at MATS — new trucks and components, new accessories and add-ons, company recruiters (ask for a copy of their lease so you can take it home and read it), concerts, computer software and high-tech gadgets, business services, satellite radio and lots of good food. Special events that have become annual attractions at the show include the 3rd Annual Paul K. Young Truck Beauty Championship, the Mid-America Jamboree, the Trucking Technology Center and the Expedited Trucking InfoCenter and informative seminars.
The entertainment at MATS is well known for its familiar favorites like Alabama and for introducing new faces, but this year MATS must say goodbye to the boys from Dixie. Alabama is retiring, and 2003 is their farewell concert year. Kenworth has brought Alabama to MATS for 14 years, and this will be their 15th and final concert at the show.
Alabama’s concert will be Friday night, March 21, at Freedom Hall. Tickets will be available the first two days of the show at the Kenworth exhibit (booth No. 3410) on the South Wing. Sorry, no advance ticket handouts.
Kicking off the three-day show, the Mid-America Jamboree is known for introducing up-and-coming country artists. This year, Eric Harley and Joe Kelley, hosts of WBAP Radio’s Midnight Trucking Radio Network, will welcome Country Music Award winner Pam Tillis. All three will be available for autographs from 1 to 4 p.m. Thursday, March 20, at the Midnight Trucking Radio Network booth in the show’s lobby. Attendees can also register at the booth for $1,000 cash to be given away Saturday afternoon at the end of the show.
OOIDA at MATS
One of the first things you’ll see at the show will be the OOIDA truck, “Spirit of the American Trucker.” The red Western Star and walk-through trailer (booth No. 9031) will be parked in the East Wing Parking lot right outside the registration pavilion. OOIDA board member Woody Chambers and his wife, Paula, will serve up hot coffee and tours of the truck.
Inside the exhibition center, OOIDA’s booth (No. 117) is located in the East Wing. OOIDA President Jim Johnston, Executive Vice President Todd Spencer, OOIDA Foundation Executive Director Rick Craig and General Counsel Paul Cullen Sr. will be there to explain and promote The OOIDA Truck Safety Month scheduled for June 2003.
If you’re already a member, stop by and say “hi.” It’s also a good time to renew your membership (dues are only $25 if you sign up at the show). If you’re not yet a member, stop by to learn all the benefits of OOIDA membership.
Don’t forget to sign up for the giveaway drawing at OOIDA’s booth. Land Line Magazine will give away a Spinner II 960 Oil-Cleaning Centrifuge.
It’s the Super Bowl of truck contests
Regardless of the weather in Louisville, the beautiful show trucks are always hot. This year promises plenty of excitement, as more than 125 working class, professional show class and antique trucks will compete when Stars & Stripes presents the 3rd Annual Paul K. Young Truck Beauty Competition. In addition to cash and prizes for the competitors, this event will raise a minimum of $10,000 to be donated to a local charity.
Sponsors for this year’s Stars & Stripes competition include: Peterbilt Motor Truck Co.; Chevron Corp.; RoadStar Magazine; PPG Industries; Belmor Heavy Truck Products; Truck-Lite Co. Inc.; 75 Chrome Shop; Rockwood Products; Valley Chrome Plating; Donaldson Co. Inc.; Alcoa Wheels; Bridgestone/Firestone Tire Co.; Double Eagle Sleeper; and BF Goodrich.
The biggest, brightest and best come out to compete for bragging rights at the largest and toughest show of the year. Every show truck competitor’s dream is to win big in Louisville. It’s the Super Bowl of truck shows — and this year’s competition promises to exceed the hype. The show draws fancy new trucks and immaculately restored classics, first-time competitors and familiar faces, all yearning to be best of show in either the working classes or professional show class.
This year’s event offers a new and different no-holds-barred, open-to-the-world competition for the professional show trucks. It promises to be as tough a battle as anyone can imagine — and only big strappers with big egos need apply. This should separate the best of the working class from the best of the professionals, with equal recognition given to the top of each heap. LL—by Suzanne Stempinski, Land Line correspondent
Q: How much are tickets?
A: There’s a full-page ad in this magazine on page 131. Tear it out and use it for free admission, but you’ll still have to wait in line to get your badge made up.
Q: Where and how do you get the concert tickets?
A: The concerts are free, sponsored by major industry suppliers. The sponsors hand out tickets at their booths.
Q: Where can I park my truck?
A: There are spaces for a few hundred bobtails and combination vehicles at the fairgrounds, but you’ll have to be there early to get one. There’s on-site truck parking in two big lots. Lot K can accommodate overnight truck parking, no hookups, for a cost of $20 per night. Lot L is for RV parking with hookups available, $25 per night; call (502) 367-5000.
Additional truck parking is available at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. Shuttles will be available to take attendees to and from the show. For reservations or additional information, call Linda Stone at (502) 367-5384. You also can park at one of the nearby truckstops and take a shuttle bus. Do not park illegally on Louisville streets. The fines are quite high.
Q: Are there places to eat on the grounds?
A: There are concessions throughout the halls. They serve the usual hot dogs, hamburgers and pizza. Some have other specialties. Outside the main entrance, the Pork Producers Association sells the most delicious pork sandwiches this side of Walcott.
Q: If I need a motel, can I get one at the last minute?
A: The nearest hotel, motel and even bed & breakfast rooms are booked six months before the show. Many experienced attendees make their reservations for the next year’s show when they check out. If you don’t have reservations now, you may have to stay an hour or so away. If you plan to return in 2004, stop in at the area motels right after the show ends. A source of up-to-date hotel availability is MATS’ hotel reservation center, DestinationKY. For help making reservations (from Super 8 to higher rate rooms) call 1-800-368-4052 or go to www.destinationky.com/midam.htm.