Professor Paul ... on the scooter ... in the West Wing ... with the lead pipe

By Bill Hudgins, columnist

Anyone who’s been to the Mid-America Trucking Show knows it can be an overwhelming experience, both mentally and also physically. Let’s face it, you have to cover a million-plus square feet with thousands of other people. And if, like most of us, you’re used to sitting most of the day, that can wear you out.

By the end of the show, even by the end of a day, most people say they feel like they’ve run a marathon. So since exhibitors and show management are always looking for ways to add excitement to the show, I propose organizing the MATS “Olympic” sporting events and brain teaser games.

The events would be things that most any driver could compete in, as you can see below.

The Pin 5K: Following a three-quarter-mile loop, drivers compete to get the most pins in the least amount of time, starting with the evening-gowned booth hostesses at Peterbilt and circling around to end with Western Star’s always-racy ladies. Competitors are allowed to beg, wheedle, bribe and bully their way through lines, though physical contact is not allowed. Winner gets a shadow box to mount them in.

The Yardstick Hurl: Two categories, one for the flat yardsticks and the other for the square ones. Contestants will attempt to toss their stick through a swinging tire at increasing distances. Winner gets two yardsticks.

The Decaf-alon: Besides diesel, trucking runs on caffeine, be it coffee, tea, cola or energy shots. In the Decaf-alon, contestants will vie to stay awake and remain in a good mood without caffeine. Talk about working through the pain. Winner gets a Mountain Dew and a BC Powder.

Level 1 Inspection Sprint: Judged by Kentucky State Troopers, competitors will race to beat the clock to find 20 hidden and subtle violations on an unfamiliar rig. In the history of the sport, only one competitor – Land Line Senior Technical Editor Professor Paul Abelson – has found all 20. Buzzing around the rig on his motorized scooter, the Professor spotted one that the troopers hadn’t even seen. For this event, the winner gets a pass next time he or she comes through Kentucky and a classic edition of the Hasbro board game Clue.

The Shuttledock: While badminton is played with a shuttlecock, shuttledock is played with big rigs at a crowded and cramped delivery warehouse. Drivers will be instructed to back into one dock, and then be told there’s a change to another dock. Best time in a total of seven changes earns the winner a back and neck massage.

Synchronized Driving: In this event, the sponsors of demo trucks have graciously consented to allow a pair of drivers to attempt intricate maneuvers simultaneously, including tight turns, backing and stopping. Flair and style count in this event. So drivers, stick your arm out the window and do that little ta-da wave as you complete a maneuver. Winners get their choice of neon-filament stitched or sequined caps.

Pork-athon: Throughout the years, visitors at the Mid-America Trucking Show have bragged about how many pork chop sandwiches they devoured. But now, for the first time, they can show the world their chops. Like the famous hotdog contest at Coney Island, competitors will have 10 minutes to put away as many sandwiches as possible. Winner receives a lifetime supply of Tums.

Seminar Hurdles: In this test of mental fitness, competitors will be judged on composing the longest and most complex question at a MATS trucker seminar. Judges will award or deduct points based on things like number of digressions, use of dependent and independent clauses, and grammar. Plus, the experts at the seminar must be able to answer correctly without having the question repeated. Winners will receive a new MATS-logoed logbook holder.

MATS Marathon: This is the biggie. Starting in the lot with the show trucks at the Paul K. Young Truck Beauty Championship, competitors must go up and down every row from the parking lot, through the West Wing, the North wing and finally emerge at the very end of the South Wing. To truly test the athletes’ mettle, the marathon will be held on Saturday, traditionally the busiest day of the show. The winner gets to sit down.

See you at the show. Until then, be safe, make money and get home often. LL