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Happy New (Trucking) Year

By Bill Hudgins


Most people don’t know this, but up until about 20 years before the American Revolution, Americans celebrated March 25 as New Year’s Day. For the trucking industry, that seems appropriate, as late March is the traditional time for the famous Mid-America Trucking Show.

As I write this, the neat countdown clock at the Mid-America Trucking Show Web site,, is ticking down the days and hours until the staff at the Kentucky Exposition Show fling open the doors to the waiting crowd on March 27. For many who work in truck-related businesses, that will signal the start of the trucking year.

You, of course, are wrapping up your first quarter and looking forward to months of better weather and road conditions.  

If you’re incorporated, you’re grousing about paperwork and taxes and so on. And everyone is wondering how high the price of diesel can go before the wheels come off everything and we go back to hauling goods by ox cart. Let’s see what CARB has to say about those emissions.

Still, MATS rules as the place where truck builders usually give you the first look at their new models. If you read the Land Line blog, you’ve already seen a glimpse of what may be International’s new generation of tractor. Its grille design is so retro, it looks like those 1950-ish illustrations of the future, and it is already generating comments reminiscent of those aimed at Kenworth’s original “anteater.”

Builders will also brag about the changes they’ve made to their existing models. Expect to hear words like “driver comfort,” “greater productivity” and “more belly room.” Given our nation’s expanding girth – sorry, folks, it’s especially true of those behind the wheel – you may soon be steering from somewhere in the vicinity of the pigtail.

There’ll be new seat models, heady with the aroma of new leather and Naugahyde, although you will have to get close to smell it over the low-lying layer of BBQ pork chop smoke in the air at MATS.

Look for pristine pre-2010 engines packed with the latest acronyms and buzzwords describing how they’ll be exponentially cleaner than today’s “mills.” There will be enough chrome to declare all of Louisville a heavy-metal EPA clean-up zone, reflecting every color of the LED rainbow.

The National Association of Show Trucks will hold its Truck-Lite Trophy Shoot Out, where several judges will have the unenviably difficult task of picking the best rig from a field of seven outrageously gorgeous trucks.  

This year’s match-up proves that well-loved trucks are virtually ageless: The contenders include a 1986 Peterbilt, a 1991 Mack and a ’94 Pete; the newest of the lot is a 2005 Pete.

Meanwhile, the MATS truck beauty show will be taking place behind the Expo Center, where 100 or more rigs tempt passersby to overdose on oohs and ahhs. Anyone who needs a bumper sticker that says, “She got the home, but I got the chrome,” see me.

My friend and ace gearjammer Rufus Sideswipe plans to attend Mid-America, pursuing his stalled quest for the presidency. Having failed to qualify for a single primary, he’s still determined to make a good showing in November.

He’ll be circulating a petition to get the TruckingOn Party on the ballot, and figures the 70,000-plus people expected at the MATS could do the trick. After all, if trucks can have a fifth-wheel, why can’t the people have a third party? As Rufus likes to say, “Give me 40 acres and I’ll turn this country around!”

Until next time, be safe, make money and get home often. LL


Editor’s note: As much as we’d like there to be a TruckingOn Party or a Rufus, for that matter, they’re both just figments of Hudge’s imagination. So for now, find out which candidates are aware of and trying to resolve the issues that are important to you and your business and show your support for them on Election Day.


Bill Hudgins can be reached at