This year's Truckin' Nationals at Firebird International Raceway in Chandler, Arizona, was attended without it's usual State-To-State Cruise, due to the escalated fuel prices at the pumps. For many cruisers, it was just too much of a burden to make the trip. As we arrived early Saturday morning at O-dark-thirty, we were amazed at the line that had formed during pre-dawn hours before the gates opened at 6 a.m.

When the gates opened, the vendors, show-'n'-shiners, drag racers, rockcrawlers, and tough truck competitors lined up accordingly in their appropriate lanes for registration. Pre-registered contestants were directed to the show area, where they would be displayed for the day. The aroma of carnauba waxes and polishes filled the morning air, as competitors began their detailing rituals, positioning display props. The 7th Annual Tire Pros Truckin' 4x4 Aftermarket Expo, presented by GM Performance, Toyo Tires, and J.C. Whitney was taking shape and ready to rock!

The two-day event featured something for everyone. There was not only a colorful Show 'n' Shine, but there were monster trucks and Party In The Pits, which allowed fans to meet the drivers, get an autograph or two, and measure themselves up to the massive beasts like Bounty Hunter, Iron Outlaw, Nasty Boy, Snake Bite, and the most famous of all, Big Foot, which started it all years ago. Each day of event, the mighty monster trucks gave the spectators their money's worth, with incredible sky-high aerials, wild wheelies, and dizzy pinnin' doughnuts.

The 1320 guys were smokin' their tires as they made countless passes down Firebird's famous quarter-mile strip. Fans saw everything from 7-second Pro Mod trucks to 20-second Scion XB four-bangers. For those who thought they had the baddest off-road vehicle that could withstand the treacherous terrain of the Toyo Tires Tough Truck Competition course, many brought it on. But, the unfortunate few were rescued and taken out on the hook. U-Drive programs were put on by GM Performance, Chrysler, Ford, and Honda, allowing the consumer to get behind the wheel of their latest models to evaluate their handling performance both on- and off-road.

The drag strip grandstands were packed, and the testosterone level was on the rev-limiter for the Miss Truckin' Nationals Bikini Contest, as eight minimally clad girls paraded and posed for the appreciative crowd.

A great time was had by all who attended. As the sun set over the Superstition mountains to the west, the event's award presentations were being held inside the Ford Fusion Tent. After the winners received their well-deserved hardware, it was time to pack 'em up and roll 'em out, until next year.