Show trucks
Waupan Truck-N-Show; Big Iron Classic; and Truck Drags

By Suzanne Stempinski
field editor


If you’ve ever wanted to be in a community that truly appreciates trucks and the people who drive them, then you need to go to the Waupun Truck-N-Show.

During the second weekend of August each year, the grounds of the community center welcome hundreds of trucks – this year 319 in competition and more on display. Waupun is about an hour north of Milwaukee and well worth the trip.

Two parades – one on Friday night and a second on Saturday afternoon – showcase trucks on a seven-mile route through and around the rural community. According to committee president Ron VandeZande, “about the time the last truck pulls out, the first trucks are coming back.”

Waupun boasts a year-round population of about 10,000. That number swells to 25,000 or more during the weekend of the Truck-N-Show. Residents line the streets, moving furniture curbside as they wave, whoop, holler and ask for a little “Jake-braking.”

At night, to maximize the “chicken light” factor, the street lights are turned off. The steps in front of the town hall are piled 20 deep with cheering fans as the trucks make their way through Waupun. Food, vendors, bands and an auction for the lead parade spots are all part of the fun. All the money raised goes to help area families. Trophies and plaques are given in more than 300 classes: from milk trucks to flatbeds, dump trucks to supersized over-the-road rides.

The all-volunteer organizers take two weeks off after the show, and then start meeting to plan the next year’s event. In 2009, the Waupun Truck-N-Show will celebrate its 20th anniversary. It’s guaranteed to be an exciting celebration with fireworks and skydivers added to the mix.

You’ll find more information at waupuntrucknshow.com or by calling 920-324-9985.

Want a show that’s all about giving and not all about trophies? The Big Iron Classic, at the fairgrounds in Kasson, MN, is the place to be. The first weekend after Labor Day, all roads lead to the little town just outside Rochester, MN.

Local trucks and long haul – more than 450 trucks were on display. And what an extravagant sight it was with gleaming paint, shining chrome and stainless and lights, thousands of lights blazing brightly at night. Drivers came from all over the U.S. and Canada to visit with and appreciate each other.

The entry fee for the trucks? A toy for a boy or girl. In fact, the whole weekend event is free to the public with the exception of the truck pulls. More than 3,000 toys were collected to be donated to Christmas Anonymous. A 22-foot utility trailer was piled more than four feet deep with toys, which will make the holidays bright for children.

There’s always some kind of prank or crazy doings at the Big Iron, and this year was no exception. “Hooter,” who drives for Long Haul Transportation strolled around the grounds wearing a thong, necktie and cowboy boots.

“He’s the kind of guy where nothing he does would surprise you,” explained Jim Finn, organizer of the Big Iron Classic. “Heck, his wife helped him get dressed and not even his mother was surprised by it.”

One of the highlights of this show – and the only time trophies are awarded – is for the truck pulls, where big diesel trucks have the opportunity to pull a 60,000-pound sled. The farther it’s pulled, the deeper it digs, and the tougher it gets.

Eighty pulls were completed in classes that included antique, light, heavy and open. The winner from each of the classes competed in a pull-off for the coveted title, King of the Hill. The King of the Hill is then featured on next year’s custom event T-shirt.

To get a closer look, or to find out more about the Big Iron Classic, go to bigironclassic.com or call Jim or Brenda Finn at 507-635-2112.

This year, the promoters of the Big Iron Classic teamed up with Truckin’ For Kids Truck Drags. Funds raised from the auction of posters at Big Iron were matched by their friends at the Truck Drags – a collaborative effort that raised an additional $7,000.

“Kind of a Drag” is not just an old Buckinghams song. It’s what’s been happening for the past 28 years in southern California.

The goal of the Truckin’ for Kids Truck Drags’ all volunteer crew and the truckers who participate is to raise money to provide various children’s charities. For the past several years, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation has been the charity of choice for the Truck Drags. The weekend begins with a dazzling light show and parade around the track on Saturday night and continues into Sunday with a day of fun, sun, barbecue, a show and shine competition and, of course, drag racing.

If you’ve got a truck and you can get through the tech inspection, you can take it down the track. Wanna grab some gears and see just how fast you can hit your marks? This is the place for it. The Irwindale Speedway is a phenomenal facility, and they pull out all the stops for the Truck Drags. Just be careful; the rear end you drop will be your own.

More than 260 trucks and thousands of drivers, family and friends were on hand this year. Almost 200 trophies were presented for classes ranging from Professional Show Truck to Longest Tow, Best Bribe (in this case the judges can be bought – it all goes to charity), transit mixers, local delivery trucks and much more. A whole slew of backing contests with every combination from pups to doubles delighted the crowds.

If you missed it in 2008, you won’t want to skip this one in 2009. Check their Web site at truckinforkids.org or call Frank Pangburn at 208-448-2811 for more details. LL


Suzanne Stempinski can be reached at wheelz624@aol.com