With the country music capital of the world to the west and Knoxville with its Great Smoky Mountains to the east, the friendly town of Lebanon, Tennessee, is flanked by awesome sights and sounds. But, it wasn't Bluegrass music or scenic panoramas that attracted almost 500 drivers to this year's show. Rather, it was the stunning collection of radical rides that flock to the town, vying for top honors at the show and looking for magazine coverage at this early autumn event.
The Ninth Annual Mini Truckin' Nationals found a new (old) location, and this time, show promoter Charlie Cobble felt right at home. Held at three locations in the last three years, the Nat's has become a little difficult to track, but Charlie thinks there is a solution. The Ward Agricultural Center, part of the Wilson County Fairgrounds in Lebanon is already home to Charlie's very successful Slammin' and Jammin' show. Now, with a little luck from the scheduling department, it will also become the future site of the Mini Truckin' Nationals.
Lots of new trucks debut at this show with dozens of already featured vehicles also showing up to see and be seen. This year was no exception with a huge crop of radically customized minis on display. While trucks were the primary attraction, there was plenty more going on, with Charlie and Denise always carefully orchestrating the fun. Many chose the camping privileges inside the fairgrounds, saving money and staying close to the action. The show opened on Friday morning with the early arriving drivers rolling through the Drive Through Judging lanes to avoid the Saturday rush. Lines were rarely very long, thanks to the quick and efficient, professional judging teams from Showoff Promotions, of Charlotte, North Carolina.
Like always, there were lots of options with the weekend menu, including events like the USACi triple-points competition for the stereo guys, the burnout competition for the performance-minded players in the crowd, the drag-'n'-brag events for the railers, and the HotWires neon competition that treated competitors and spectators alike to a soft colorful glow, lighting up the Tennessee sky. If that sounds a little tame to you, stand by for the hydraulics exhibition, where the Gauge Magazine air-dancing S-10 turned every which way, including loose. Expertly handled by Matt Petro, this whoop-ass truck is one of the baddest air-powered vehicles on the planet, winding up on its side within the first few moments of the routine, then with explosive force, doing it again to prove it was no accident.
Continuing the excitement but just a tiny bit quieter, the bikini contest created some localized forms of global warming, with numerous temperature spikes occurring in the excited crowd before the winners were crowned. The First through Fourth Place finishers not only received trophies and cash but also shared more than $4,000 worth of high-tech stereo components, donated by the event sponsors, MA Audio. Talk about an incentive for the girls to bring their bikinis.
Charlie presented more than 250 trophies to deserving drivers, with the top award going to Jonathan Goolsby. His Best of Show-winning '98 Sonoma was recently featured on our Nov. '05 cover. Spending Habits CC won the sought after Club Participation Award. If you'd like more information on this annual event, check out the website at www.autoshows.cc for the latest information.