The shows must go on

October 2020

Greg Grisolano


Competing in the Pride and Polish truck beauty contest has been on C.J. Donovan’s bucket list for years.

This summer, thanks to the coronavirus, the OOIDA life member from Gordonville, Pa., got the opportunity to cross it off his list.

Sort of.

Donovan entered his 1984 Peterbilt 362 cabover in Pride and Polish’s virtual show. His truck was a hit with both voters and judges, nabbing first place overall in the Antique Truck category and third place in the limited mileage class.

Sponsored by Overdrive Magazine, the Pride and Polish championships were expected to take place during the Great American Trucking Show on Aug. 27-29 at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in downtown Dallas.

But concerns over COVID-19 led organizers to announce the cancellation of the event on April 30 and created an opportunity for an online-only truck show.

That worked out great for Donovan, who hauls LTL reefer freight and would not have been able to fit a trip to GATS into his work routine.

“It would have not worked into my schedule,” he said. “And that’s a show that’s on my list. I want to be there in the worst way. But it hasn’t been able to happen yet.”

Check out the full list of Pride and Polish truck show winners here.

Donovan said he was humbled by the support he received from voters, and from the judges. But the virtual show experience doesn’t give fans or judges the same opportunity to appreciate the level of detail that’s gone into restoring this classic cabover. Some of the tweaks he’s made to this Pete include reconfiguring lights and steering and making some of the daily maintenance items – like fuel filters and the water separator – easier to get to.

“You don’t necessarily have to tilt the cab for a lot of the daily maintenance,” he said. “I was concerned some of the little things would get missed in the photos. The virtual show doesn’t necessarily showcase a lot of those things. It’s still the same amount of fun.”

While there’s no substitute for being up close and personal with a show truck, Donovan said he was grateful to get the opportunity to participate in the online show.

“It’s brought out some trucks you wouldn’t get to see otherwise,” he said. “If it’s too far for that guy to drive to, or it doesn’t work with his schedule, this virtual show – everyone can show up. That makes it nice.”

While many of the larger shows of the summer season went virtual (like Shell Rotella’s SuperRigs, the Guilty By Association Truck Show hosted by 4 State Trucks, and the American Truck Historical Society’s national convention), several smaller, regional shows decided to move forward with in-person events.

OOIDA’s tour trailer, the Spirit of the American Trucker, made appearances at the TopGun LargeCar Shootout, Waupun Truck-n-Show and the Tower Tree Truck Classic.

The TopGun LargeCar Shootout on July 24-26 in Rantoul, Ill., was actually the Spirit’s first truck show of 2020. Now in its 13th year, organizer Daveda Reitz continues the show created by her husband, Tom Reitz, who died in 2018 just before that year’s show. Her husband had been an owner-operator and an OOIDA senior member. The show drew approximately 175 trucks, not far from its usual turnout of around 200, despite requiring attendees to wear masks and to follow social distancing guidelines.

The Spirit’s second stop of the abbreviated show truck season was the Tower Tree Truck Classic on Aug. 7-8 at the Decatur County Fairgrounds in Greensburg, Ind.

Organizer Ron Huey told Land Line Now that visitors to the Tower Tree Truck Classic were asked to maintain social distancing – and to wear masks when in groups of 10 or more. There were also no food vendors on site due to coronavirus concerns, but everything else went off as planned, including a show truck competition and light show with proceeds going to the Special Olympics.

The Spirit also rolled into Waupun, Wis., for the Waupun Truck-n-Show on Aug. 14-15. Organizer Duey Vande Zande told Land Line Now he anticipated a larger-than-normal turnout despite the COVID-19 precautions. The show carried out its two parades, to benefit the Special Olympics of Wisconsin and Make-a-Wish of Wisconsin.

Vande Zande said 275 trucks showed up and helped raise a combined total of $24,680 for the two charities. LL


Land Line Now Senior Correspondent Scott Thompson contributed to this report.

Greg Grisolano

Greg Grisolano joined Land Line in 2013. He was formerly a reporter for the Joplin Globe. He brings business writing and photography skills to Land Line, and has a passion for finding and telling stories about the people who make up the trucking industry.