Success breeds success, or so they say. In our case, last year's Low-Buck Challenge was such a hit with the readers that we're bringing it back again this year - only bigger and better. Despite getting off to a slow start last year, we ended up with 19 entries. Of those 19 entries, 14 trucks were complete. That's not bad considering the time frame for construction and the fact we were only offering a feature in the magazine as the grand prize. We also selected the top 10 to appear in our Readers' Rides section so they could receive recognition as well.

This year, thanks to new sponsor JC Whitney, the Sport Truck Magazine/JC Whitney Low-Buck Challenge promises to be bigger and better than ever. While we're still offering the winner a full feature in the magazine, JC Whitney has upped the ante with nearly $2,000 worth of merchandise gift certificates for First, Second, and Third Place winners. The First Place winner will walk away with a $1,000 gift certificate from JC Whitney and a full feature in Sport Truck magazine. We will also select the top 10 trucks from the contest to appear in the magazine as well.

The idea behind the Low-Buck Challenge is simple: Since everyone has to start somewhere building their first custom, why not get some recognition for your efforts? And in reality, most folks are on a budget when it comes to building their first sport truck. Budget-building often means a lot of do-it-yourself labor and the use of mail-order parts. Judging from the ads in both Sport Truck and Truckin' magazines, there are plenty of mail-order sources that sell brand-name products from which to build a killer custom. And we have plenty of talented readers who aren't afraid of getting their hands dirty and taking on the labor end of it themselves, including paint and bodywork.

This is where JC Whitney comes in. Most of us Baby Boomers are familiar with the JC Whitney of old as the company has been around since the beginning of time. We fondly remember JC for some of the automotive oddities it offered in the past, such as wolf whistle horns, curb feelers, and camshafts that were sold as 1/4-, 1/2-, and full-race versions.

Today, JC Whitney is one of the leading mail-order automotive sources for just about everything that has anything to do with cars and trucks. The company's lineup has expanded so much over the years that it now offers several different catalogs, including one specifically for trucks, vans, and SUVs. All of JC's catalogs offer brand-name parts, such as Belltech, Airaid, Rancho, APC, and Granatelli Motorsports, just to name a few. The company is also a great source for restoration parts. For the do-it-yourself sport truck builder, the company is one of the best-kept secrets out there, and thus is a natural as a sponsor for this year's Low-Buck Challenge.

We are excited to welcome JC Whitney as title sponsor of this year's Low-Buck Challenge, and we are hoping the lure of both prizes and recognition will bring the homebuilt-hauler builders out of the woodwork for some well-deserved recognition. For more information on the Challenge, check out the details on page 90 or visit our Web site at www.sporttruck.com.