By Jami Jones
More than 75 truckers brought their trucks to Shell Rotella SuperRigs in hopes of taking home top honors and maybe scoring a spot on the calendar. But after two and a half days of competition, only one was Best of Show and 12 were selected for the calendar.
OOIDA member Brad Caton from Northfield, MN, took his first ever Best of Show win in the 2009 SuperRigs held June 18-20 in Oak Grove, MO.
Caton, who drives for Eilen & Sons Trucking out of Hampton, MN, has been featured on the coveted calendar before, but never took home the big money.
All of that is enough to make the event memorable and special for Caton, but for him and the entire Eilen family it was so much more.
When Jake Eilen died in a wreck on Nov. 23 of this past year, the Eilen family, friends and the show truck community as a whole felt the loss. The Eilen family had even toyed with the idea of not showing their trucks this year.
But a spur-of-the-moment decision – in show truck terms – prompted the Eilen family and friends to get Jake’s truck ready to show, then take it to Missouri to the 2009 SuperRigs in hopes of getting it on the calendar. They accomplished that goal with little more than a week of prep time.
Family and friends – including Caton – worked around the clock to get Jake’s 2007 black Peterbilt 379 with its signature red ghost flames and 2007 Mac trailer ready for the show. The truck was entered in this year’s contest by Pat Eilen, Jake’s brother, but it was the calendar that was the family’s first objective.
When the truck was selected by Shell to appear on the calendar, the wave of emotion throughout the Eilen family and friends present during the announcement could be felt by all.
With their goal of getting Jake’s truck on the calendar achieved, the Eilen family decided to get serious about winning SuperRigs. Pat turned to Brad and told him it was time to get Brad’s 2007 blue Peterbilt and 2007 Mac trailer, donned in flames and checkered flags in a Hot Wheels motif ready to show. Brad brought the truck to Oak Grove, but only planned to compete with the bobtail if time allowed.
With little more than a truck wash under their belts, the Eilen crew tore into polishing Brad’s truck and trailer for a couple of days. He pulled through the judge’s line late Friday afternoon to be judged.
The work paid off huge dividends.
Caton’s truck and trailer took Best of Show. Jake’s truck and trailer took first runner-up.
“I can’t even find the words to explain it,” Caton said following the big win. “That’s how much it means.
“The main reason to come down was to get Jake’s truck on the calendar,” Caton said. “To have good luck like that with both of them is pretty awesome.”
Rounding out the Best of Show division was a 1993 Peterbilt 379 with a Mac 2009 trailer owned by Todd Roccapriore of Hebron, CT. LL