The innagural Sport Truck Challenge popped off in the January issue. We pitted six distinctively different reader-owned trucks in quarter-mile racing, 60-foot slalom, 60-to-0-mph braking, fuel economy, and ride-'n'-drive categories. Doug Blocker schooled the field in his '57 Chevy truck. He ran a 12.62 e.t. quarter-mile time with a 408-inch small-block and got 10.4 mpg using a Tex Racing Super T10 automatic trans and 3.70 rear gears. Four-wheel disc brakes stopped the hulk in 125 feet, which netted First Place in braking in addition to his win in the drag race. It was enough to offset his Sixth Place finish in the fuel economy category and give him the win.
In February, we crowned a new Sport Truck of the Year. The redesigned '99 Chevy Silverado debuted and won the crown.
In March, Kevin Lee replaced Peter MacGuillavry as editor of the mag.
More staff changes occurred when Christian Lee left in February and then Jim Aust came aboard in May. By June, Matt King left for Hot Rod magazine. In September, Travis bolted for a spot at Truckin' magazine, and he was so valuable that it took two men to fill his size 7s. David Brown and Rick Amado became staff editor and technical editor, respectively.
Fabtech made it OK to lift your 2x4 truck with its blue powdercoated lineup of lift kits. Whether you drove a '73 C10 or a '99 Toyota, there was a long-travel kit to make it look like a prerunner ready to get stuck off-road. In fact, we used the blue parts to sky our '99 Chevy in the November issue.
The second installment of the Sport Truck Challenge appeared in the January issue and Randy Dubois' '97 Dodge Ram SS/T ate up the competition in the slalom, braking, and ride-'n'-drive portions of the event. A Third Place at the track in the drag race gave him a narrow victory over Sam Head's '67 Chevy C10. Sam is Calin Head's dad; Calin would land a job as tech editor at ST shortly thereafter.
In February, we crowned the Dodge Dakota Quad Cab 4.7L Magnum V-8 our Truck of the Year. It miraculously beat out Ford's SVT Lightning supercharged truck, the new Tundra from Toyota, and other worthy competitors from GM and Nissan.
Side Note: A little known fact is that the opening shot of the TOTY story was taken at the Salton Sea right after several staffers dunked their detailing towels in the salty water to clean the trucks off with. That didn't work out so well, and the staff gave up salty foods for a week.
Yet another staff change. Rick Amado bailed in September, and by October Calin Head joined the staff and has been here ever since. As the longest-serving member of ST, he's seen more behind-the-scenes BS than anyone.