Truckin' for Kids: A good time for a good cause

By Suzanne Stempinski, Land Line contributing field editor | 10/31/2014

The best habits are the ones that do good. They’re the ones you don’t want to break. No reason to. Just ask OOIDA Life Member Frank Pangburn and his wife, Dianna. For more than 33 years, they’ve been involved with the Truckin’ For Kids Truck Show & Drags, which has raised more than $2 million in support of kids in need. For the last several years, the chosen charity has been the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Adjacent to the Irwindale Raceway in Southern Calif., parking lots filled with shiny trucks in the first weekend in October. The aromas of diesel and barbecue, polish and sunshine mingled in an irresistible fragrance. Big hoods and antique trucks, cattle haulers and water trucks, over-the-road and just for display – there were trucks to appeal to every imagination. In fact, 177 of them were lined up and looking for action. And that didn’t include the special dragsters and junior dragsters for youngsters looking to get their feet wet in the racing world.

Phil Miller of Amargosa Valley, Nev., competed at his very first truck show last year in St. George, Utah, with his 2010 cream and brown Peterbilt 389 pulling a 2013 Wilson livestock trailer. He got hooked on the fun and camaraderie and decided to kick on over to TFK. Good thing he did. He took home a trophy for Best Lights Combo and was awarded the Sponsor’s Choice Trophy for his efforts.

While this event recognizes beautiful trucks; the highlight for many of the participants and certainly the thousands of attendees is the Truck Drags. Picture your truck as it runs down the road. Now drop your trailer, go through tech and wait your turn to ease on up to the Christmas Tree line. Not kidding. Ready, set, spin those tires to make sure you’re gonna grab a little traction and GO.

It’s the heady rush of adrenaline and the sweet sound of your engine striving for the perfect spot as you rumble down the track. What was your time? Dial it in, have it marked on your window and do it again.

Of course if you break something, you’d better have a good plan in place to fix it. You’re not likely to call your insurance company on Monday morning and say, “Well, I was stomping a gear on the racetrack when all of a sudden I heard a very bad sound and my truck quit running.”

Mark Pounds, Central Valley Transportation, was going great guns with his 1987 purple Freightliner cabover. With big thumbs up and a smile to match, he was successful through seven passes and heading for the finals when his radiator boiled over and ended his race day. But his trucks earned an award for Best Small Fleet. Ultimately, Wayne Talkington with Lucas Oil won the Super Drags with Frank Fierro as the runner up.

Keeping his shiny side up and tucked under his trailer, Lil Ray Rodriguez brought two working show trucks to TFK. His newest ride, a 2015 lavender and purple Peterbilt 378 hooked to a 2015 Western step deck is named “Wicked.” And she sure is one badass babe of a truck with unparalleled attention to detail. Murals wrap from the hood through the doors and around to the back of the cab and continue under the trailer. Curves and points repeat from the visor to the fenders to the steps and more. When the judging was done, the Lil Ray team earned an armload of awards, including Best Paint, Best Engine and Best of Show.

People’s Choice went to Kenny Allen of Fleet Car with his blue and gray Peterbilt car hauler.

The show has moved from Pomona to Palmdale to its current home in Irwindale, Calif. It’ll likely move again as the Irwindale Raceway has been sold. But that’s a story for another day. For now, as the sun set and the trucks rolled out toward home, the parade of trucks left having had a great weekend for a good cause.

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