MATS NEWS SPECIAL: Some highlights from the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville

| 3/21/2003

Johnston shares the mike with XM's Satellite Cowboy

Jim Johnston, president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, was Bill Mack's guest Friday, March 21, on XM Satellite Radio's trucker channel, "Open Road." Mack broadcast live from the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, KY.

Mack talked with Johnston a bit about trucking, the industry's problems, the 30-year endurance of OOIDA and the association's June Safety Month 2003, in which all truckers are encouraged to simply run compliant.

Afterward, Mack's crew circulated among the truckers and allowed Johnston to field questions. One question came from a company driver who said he'd just joined OOIDA. He asked what the association could do for him.

Johnston said company drivers were valued members.

"Whether you are the owner of the truck or the driver of the truck, you are fully responsible for the truck," he said. "We are all in this together. What affects one, affects all of us."

Highway hero honored at MATS

Charles Ingram, a trucker from Jackson, GA, was honored Friday at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, KY, as the 2002 Goodyear North America Highway Hero, the trucking industry's most prestigious award for heroism.

Ingram, a six-year veteran driver for FedEx Ground, accepted the award and a $10,000 U.S. savings bond. He lives in Jackson, GA, and works out of the FedEx facility in Ellenwood, GA.

"This isn't something you think about. It's a situation you react to,” Ingram told the crowd in Louisville. “You just see a bad scene like that, and you do what you think needs to be done. I was just in the right place at the right time. That's all."

On Oct. 28, 2002, while driving outside of Atlanta, Ingram came upon an accident scene with a car on fire. Stopping his truck to help, he saw that no other bystanders would approach the vehicle because of the fire and a fear the car could explode. Ingram realized that two passengers were trapped in the burning vehicle, and the unconscious driver's foot remained on the gas pedal, making the situation even more perilous.

Using a hammer, Ingram broke out the rear passenger window and pulled the passenger out of the car. Returning to the car, he broke out the front driver's side window and struggled to pull the unconscious driver from the burning wreckage. He put the driver onto a grassy area and began first-aid treatment as he had been instructed in the military. Ingram stayed with the driver until rescue units arrived.

On March 21, Ingram and the other three finalists were introduced to the trucking industry at MATS. The other finalists were: Ron Lantz, Ludlow, KY, who helped authorities capture the Washington, DC, area snipers in fall 2002; Anthony Gouverneur, Evansville, IN, who pulled one of several victims from a burning two-vehicle crash on U.S. 95 near Vidal Junction, CA; and Sebastian Lisitano, Winter Park, FL, who helped another motorist pull a driver out of a burning vehicle.

The finalists were culled from nominees throughout the United States and Canada. A panel of judges, consisting of members of the trucking and tire trade media, selected Ingram as the winner. To nominate a professional truckdriver for the 2003 Goodyear Highway Hero Award, visit

Sterling Truck introduces new version of Acterra

At press events this week in Louisville, Sterling Trucks, a member of the Freightliner LLC, introduced two new versions of its Acterra medium-duty and vocational truck.

The crew cab option will give the truck 113 inches from dash to rear wall, flat floor and a full-length back seat (bench style).

The Acterra Crew Cab features multiple diesel engine options, including the standard MBE900 engine, rated from 170 hp to 300 hp, and the optional Caterpillar 3126 and Cummins ISL and ISC, with available ratings from 190 hp to 350 hp. Available transmissions include those from DaimlerChrysler Powersystems, Eaton-Fuller and Allison.

The Acterra Crew Cab features a 163-inch BBC and is available with gross vehicle weight ratings from 19,000 pounds to 46,000 pounds.

Also new from Sterling – a factory-authorized All-Wheel Drive Conversion for Acterra trucks. The All-Wheel Drive feature, manufactured by Fabco Automotive Corp., is available immediately for all Acterra 4x2 versions, with conversions for Acterra 6x4 trucks expected later this year.

The Acterra Fabco All-Wheel Drive Conversion is offered with front axle ratings of 12,000, 14,000 or 16,000 pounds, and comes with a choice of one- or two-speed transfer cases. The All-Wheel Drive is available for Acterra products equipped with MBE and Caterpillar medium-duty engines and with transmission choices from DaimlerChrysler Powersystems, Eaton and Allison.

The new Acterra Fabco All-Wheel Drive Conversion features a technologically advanced offset front drive carrier axle and four-shaft transfer case, designed to ensure a minimal increase in vehicle height of only four to six inches over standard height. Coupled with no step frame modifications, the Fabco All-Wheel Conversion retains frame integrity and durability, maintains a low center of gravity and eliminates up to 300 pounds of weight, which allows for an increased payload capacity.

Superior driveline angles comply with industry standards, and a single piece forward drive shaft avoids the cost and weight of a two-piece shaft. For operator convenience, the all-wheel drive system is engaged through two easy-to-reach electro-pneumatic switches located on the dash.

Cummins adds ISX 385 ST to engine lineup

The Cummins ISX was the first engine certified to the October EPA emissions regulations. At the Mid-America Trucking Show this week, Cummins announced the addition of the new ISX 385 ST to its heavy-duty on-highway product line.

The ISX 385 ST is designed for truck owners looking for a higher displacement engine option, with increased durability and higher residual values, for applications that don't require an engine brake.

The ISX 385 ST with SmartTorque offers a Cummins-designed torque-management rating that delivers an additional 100 lbs.-ft. of torque in the top two gears of the transmission automatically – over and above the standard rating. The ISX 385 ST keeps downshifts to a minimum on the open road, delivering optimum performance no matter the run.

Peterbilt introduces the Model 379X

Making its debut at the Mid-America Trucking Show, Peterbilt’s new Model 379X is a special edition the company is calling “the pinnacle of style and performance.” And sure enough, it’s a snazzy thing.

At Louisville this week, Peterbilt displays two Model 379Xs in its exhibit, showcasing the new vehicle’s polished aluminum fenders, Peterbilt oval-pattern grille, polished aluminum centerline hood accent and chrome Texas-style bumper. Its polished aluminum-on-chrome special edition themes are meticulously incorporated into every detail of the truck, from the special edition logos on the sleeper sides to the X-spoke design of the steering wheel.

Dan Sobic, Peterbilt assistant general manager, says, “It will change the way you look at the road.”

“The Model 379X is for customers who treasure their truck-ownership experience. It is for the owner who has exceptional pride in his or her vehicle, who takes joy in its chrome accents and who keeps it looking and running its best all the time,” Sobic says. “Driving down the road … sitting in the custom leather seats … looking down the polished aluminum centerline hood trim …  glancing at the gauges set in the brushed aluminum dash panels … pulling back on the chromed shift lever and knob … the Model 379X constantly reinforces the fact that you are a Peterbilt owner who sits behind the wheel of a truly special truck.”

The Model 379X begins production in September.

Western Star unveils the Stratosphere

At the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville this week, Freightliner LLC literally unveiled their new Western Star walk-through sleeper. The wraps came off the Stratosphere yesterday at a special press event.

The 82-inch walk-through sleeper has a choice of interiors and has a flat floor throughout. The Stratosphere Star Light sleeper is available on all Western Star 4900 models.

Western Star is part of the Freightliner Group. Freightliner LLC is a DaimlerChrysler company.

Cummins says 'fixed in 24 hours or we pay'

Cummins Engine says every ISX and ISM engine purchased before Dec. 31, 2003, comes with the Cummins Uptime Guarantee. Under the guarantee, if any part on a customer's ISX or ISM engine fails and can't be repaired within a 24-hour period, Cummins not only will pay for the repairs, but also will provide a rental vehicle up to three days at no cost.

Big prizes bagged in MATS sweepstakes

On Thursday, fleet owner Karl Schulz of Antigo, WI, won a 2003 Harley-Davidson Fat Boy motorcycle in the Kenworth Custom Chrome Sweepstakes. Schulz is the owner of Karl's Transport.

Today, Illinois trucker Oral Perry took the keys to his 2000 Freightliner Class XL. Perry, an owner-operator leased to Landstar Systems, was the big winner in a promotion by DaimlerChrysler Services Truck Finance called the Great Big Rig Sweepstakes.

In Louisville, show truck owners await judges' choices

The judging of the 2003 Paul K. Young Memorial Truck Beauty Championship is a done deal, but the winners remain double dog secret. The judging was completed yesterday afternoon, with some new competition making bids for the judges' attention. Thursday night, the results were tallied and the winners will be announced 10 a.m. Saturday at a special awards presentation.

In the parking lot behind the East Exhibitors Hall, it's nothing but eye candy for people who love big trucks. The area is jam-packed with working and professional trucks vying for cash and plaques in a variety of class categories.

The truck competition, sponsored by Newport Communications, is a memorial event, named for Paul K. Young, who founded the Mid-America Trucking Show back in 1971. Young passed away in 1998.

Proheat Gen4 APU: right time, right place

Again today, the trucking crowds are converging on the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, checking out the products and services of more than 1,000 exhibitors. Many truckers were looking for cool stuff. More were looking for solutions to their business dilemmas.

They want a way to reduce the astronomical cost of fuel by stopping the idling. They want to reduce U.S. dependency on foreign oil. They want to leave clean air for their kids. But they still want a way to stay cool in summer and warm in winter.

Teleflex International says it's listening to what these truckers want and have incorporated comfort and reliability in its Proheat Generation 4 auxiliary power unit and climate control system.

Now available to owner-operators for about $6,500 installed, Teleflex says the Proheat Gen4 will let you burn 80 percent less fuel at idle than your truck engine. You can pay for it in two years.

Get more info at

Mack introduces quick responding PowerLeash engine brake

At today’s press event at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, KY, Mack Trucks Inc. introduced an all-new integrated engine brake called the PowerLeash. It’s available on Mack’s Application Specific Engine Technology (ASET) engines.

Mack’s balanced design approach integrates the PowerLeash brake within the base engine envelope, saving 50 pounds over other engine brakes. According to the manufacturer, one major advantage of the PowerLeash brake is improved performance throughout the engine operating range, reaching 420 braking horsepower at 2100 rpm.

Built like a Mack Truck?

On the lighter side, if you were in Louisville at the MATS today, you might have been lucky enough to get a copy of Bulldog Magazine’s first swimsuit issue. In it, Mack’s corporate mascot, the famous bulldog, shows the world a new side that brings new meaning to “built like a Mack Truck.”

After more than 80 years leading the industry’s toughest trucks from his perch on the hood, the Mack bulldog is breaking loose for brawny, beachside fun. The special edition catches the bulldog, decked out in the latest swimwear, in full beach mode – including volleyball, scuba diving ... even pumping iron.