Continued growth expected for GBATS 2017

By Mark Schremmer, Land Line staff writer | Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Guilty By Association Truck Show has grown larger than the organizer, Bryan Martin, ever expected.

During the show’s inaugural year in 2009, Martin said about 38 trucks were in attendance in Joplin, Mo. Last year, the number of trucks grew to 504. For the ninth annual GBATS on Sept. 22-23 in Joplin, Martin said he’s anticipating a turnout of about 550-600 big rigs.

“I never thought we could grow to this level and develop the kind of following we have this quickly,” said Martin, who owns 4 State Trucks in Joplin. “It’s heading to be one of the larger trucking-type events. It’s not a trade and exhibit show. It’s a truck show. It’s a place where you can bring your buddies, your dad, your granddad, and your family. It’s really developed a life of its own.”

The show has grown large enough that the registration tent has been moved about a quarter-mile away.

“We’ve moved the registration tent off site, because we’ve been blessed with more than 500 trucks coming out,” Martin said. “Once we get everyone here at our facility, we don’t have room to move. It becomes a gridlock situation, so we’ve moved the registration about a quarter-mile away at South East Frontage Road off Exit 4.”

The registration lot will include a food truck, a courtesy tent with complimentary bottled water, portable restrooms, truck washes and metal polishing services.

Among the main events for Friday, Sept. 22 are the big rig burnouts at noon, the second annual swap meet from noon to 5 p.m., a guided shop tour at 3 p.m., the Larry H. Martin Memorial Award Presentation at 6:40 p.m., Timberworks Lumberjack show at 7 p.m., a semi-truck and tractor pull at 7:15 p.m., and fireworks at 10 p.m. The Lucas Motor Sports Truck and Tractor Pull is sponsored by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

The Timberworks Lumberjack show is new to GBATS and also will be featured Saturday night in downtown Joplin.

“These are professional lumberjacks from Wisconsin,” Martin said. “We’re going to have a live lumberjack competition on Friday night to kick off the truck and tractor pull. They’re going to do the hot chainsaw competition, the tree climb, the ax chop competition, the big cross-cut saw where they pull the saw back and forth, and they’re going to do a carving competition with a chainsaw. The Timberworks folks also agreed to do a logrolling competition Saturday night.”

Other featured events on Saturday, Sept. 23, include the big rig burnouts at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., the kids’ pedal tractor pull at noon, the swap meet from noon-5 p.m., the truck show awards presentation at 4 p.m., and the Special Olympics Convoy auction at 4:15 p.m.

The convoy, which generates money for Special Olympics of Southwest Missouri, leaves for downtown Joplin at 6 p.m. The night will conclude with a concert from country musician Rich McCready and the lumberjack competition.

“The crown jewel of the event is the Special Olympics Convoy,” Martin said. “It’s very impressive to see what all these truckers do by teaming up for one weekend. Last year, we raised right about $110,000 for Special Olympics in two short days.”

A full schedule of events can be found at chromeshopmafia.com or the new GBATS 2017 phone application.

“Anything and everything you need to know regarding the show is right there on your phone to where you don’t necessarily have to call or find a laptop and go to our website,” Martin said. “The app will also provide real-time show updates over the weekend.”

There is no cost for a truck driver to enter his or her truck.

“We haven’t focused on making it highly competitive,” Martin said. “It’s a no-stress show. It’s literally a wash-and-park. It makes it more of a relaxed, interactive, fun get-together with thousands of truckers.”

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