Held annually at Raceway Park in Englishtown, N.J., since 1977, this is one humdinger of a show, attracting upwards of 1,000 trucks for truck beauty competition and drag racing with a $5,000 top eliminator prize.
At this year's dragster blowout Sept. 16, a white 1986 Marmon owned by Michael Bigg Jr. and driven by John Ammirati out-raced some 700 competitors for "King of Hill" honors and the big prize money. Owner-operator Joe Seaman Jr from Eldridge, Mo., battled to a second place, $1000 win in his '84 Peterbilt.
Multiple award winners in the beauty competition included Jeff Boyd's 1995 Peterbilt dump truck with Ti-Brook body, Steve Bratton's 2000 Kenworth tractor, R.O. Guerrera's 1952 Diamond T, and Mystic Bulk Carriers fleet.
Any diesel-powered vehicle was eligible to compete. Multiple lines of long haulers, fuel trucks, roll-offs, concrete pumpers, flamed tow trucks, muraled and pinstriped sanitation trucks, even buses and antique working trucks poured into the 320-acre facility. Half those acres are paved and by mid-morning virtually all paved areas were buried under East Coast iron.
Dump trucks made up the largest group and were easily the most awesome collection of beautifully painted and decked out tri- and quad-axles ever accumulated in one space.
"I've seen dump beds so polished you could shave in them," noted Raceway Park's Vince Mele.
Trucking companies, mostly from New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts, brought their drivers and families, set up tables and grills in the pit areas and enjoyed a pure, unadulterated day of trucking entertainment that included watching their favorite trucks duke it out in the afternoon drag time trials.
On the manufacturers' midway, vendors offered all manner of truck merchandise, from neon lights and engine parts to computer mouse pads imprinted with truck art . Food was grilled on the spot and, like the locally popular red peppers and onions heaped on Italian sausage, was delicious.
Spectator traffic flooding into the track at show time was three-vehicles-wide and stretched to the horizon. By evening more than 20,000 diesel and motorsports fans jammed the grandstands.
Under a dramatic orange sunset sky swept with violet, two jet-powered semis, Bob Motz's Kenworth and Les Shockley's Peterbilt, staged a blistering firefight on the quarter mile strip. Jet dragsters and funny cars flamed and roared in deafening competition. A six-way monster truck brawl featuring big name pullers like Gravedigger, Bulldozer, Monster Patrol and Carolina Crusher plus the WWF-backed trucks of Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock had the crowd on its feet, cheering.
Sponsors included Cummins Engine Co., Nelson Industries, Inc. Valvoline, Fleetguard, Y-107 New Country radio, and Truck Buyers Guide.
For more information about next year's show, call 732-446-6331 or bookmark Raceway Park's website, www.etownraceway.com.
(Photo by Bette Garber)