‘Live From Exit 24’ recap: For GBATS, the (streaming) show must go on

September 23, 2020

Greg Grisolano

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The latest episode of “Live From Exit 24” tackled COVID-19 and its effect on truckers, trucking and how it forced the reimagining of special events like the Guilty By Association Truck Show.

The Sept. 23 episode featured guest host Jami Jones, managing editor of Land Line, and special guest Bryan “Boss Man” Martin of 4 State Trucks and GBATS.

“Life as we knew it took a cosmic shift in March when everything started shutting down,” Jones said. “It’s important to recognize the depth and breadth of the toll it took on all things trucking.”

In the throes of COVID-19

OOIDA members Chante and Christopher Drew of Kansas City called in to share their experiences of contracting the virus. The couple said they started feeling sick in March, while delivering meat to Arizona. On their way from Nogales, Ariz., to Long Island, N.Y., the couple say they really started to feel the effects.

“We were in the throes of COVID, and we tried finding a testing facility to make sure,” Chante said. “And we couldn’t find anybody that would A.) Take a semi, and B.) Test us, period. So we hightailed it back to Kansas City and started quarantining.”

The couple are owner-operators, and said they were off work for about 50 days. Their symptoms ran the gamut from loss of taste and smell, body aches and fevers, and gastrointestinal issues. Even now, months later, the couple say they still deal with effects like phantom smells, joint pain and fatigue.

“COVID likes to leave party favors with you, it seems,” Christopher Drew said.

While they’re back on the truck now, the Drews said they’re not running nearly as hard as they had. Instead of staying out for five weeks at a time, the couple are planning shorter runs with more frequent home time.

Other drivers from Tennessee and Florida also called in to share how COVID-19 had impacted their business, from certain freight lanes shutting down completely, to dealing with a fellow driver’s diagnosis.

GBATS livestreaming event

Martin said there were a lot of tough conversations earlier this year about whether or not to proceed with an in-person Guilty By Association Truck Show. Ultimately, he and his brother and the rest of the 4 State Trucks team made the difficult decision.

“As bad as we wanted to have it, at that time, we had to make a call four months ago. The thought of putting 3,500 people in grandstands and 4000-5,000 people in downtown Joplin at an awesome concert with all the COVID madness of that time just didn’t seem to be the prudent thing to do.”

After pushing the date for an in-person GBATS show to September 2021, they started reimagining a different type of truck show, a livestreaming event that Martin says he hopes viewers will equate to a Super Bowl watch party.

The four-hour livestreaming event begins at 6 p.m. Central on Friday, Sept. 25.

“It’s a four-hour, high action, trucking TV show,” Martin said.

The 4 State Trucks crew has spent months traveling the country recording several segments, including a series of “How It’s Made” videos showcasing some of their chrome products from Valley Chrome and Lincoln Chrome.

There’s also a trivia contest with prizes, truck burnouts, and a fundraiser for Special Olympics.

Martin says one trucking company has even pledged to donate $1 for every viewer the broadcast gets on Friday night. The show will broadcast live on Facebook and YouTube.

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.