Monday, March 31, 2014

Riding shotgun in OOIDA's new Western Star

When it comes to trucks, the way it drives, the way it works, the way it holds up to the task at hand is all critical. How it looks is also high on the list. That’s why Western Star Truck Sales came up with a Design Our Star project, handing the power to Western Star fans to vote on what went into Western Star’s 2014 show truck.

Come on, Jon, let's roll.
The truck was unveiled at the 2014 Mid-America Trucking Show last week – a red, white and blue Western Star 4900EX, ultra-high sleeper with a maple red premium interior, Detroit DD16 engine, 18-speed manual transmission, ’70s paint job with plenty of chrome and lots of accessories.

Then the big moment: Western Star’s Guy Lemieux explained that the company was giving the truck to OOIDA for 24 months. Our own truck pilot Jon Osburn and OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer accepted the keys.

On Saturday night, the truck rolled out of the glitzy Western Star booth where it was sitting beside Optimus Prime (yes, the Transformer truck). With Jon behind the wheel, it cruised over to Papa John’s parking lot.

I like the way “Land Line Now” Host Mark Reddig described its arrival.

Jon "I am the captain" O.
“Tony Justice had just finished a rockin’ good song and here comes Jon in the new Western Star, lights blazing, right up beside the stage. Jon gave two blasts of the air horn and the crowd went wild. That entry couldn’t have been more exciting had it been totally planned, which it wasn’t.”

Sunday morning Jon headed back to OOIDA headquarters with me riding shotgun.

When we rolled north out of Louisville, the truck had 1,020 miles on it. It’s a joy to ride in. I really liked the seats and all the adjustments. I am only 5 feet tall, and with Sassi Dogg on my lap just some fine-tuning and we were totally comfy. Note: The seat belts were awesome and did not choke me.

The dash is a veritable cockpit. The door lock buttons sit on top of a well-upholstered door, and when we stopped for fuel Sassi locked Jon out. Fortunately for him, she locked me in.

The truck was so quiet, we could hear the bugs hit the windshield. Well, the big bugs at least.

It was so quiet, I could hear Jon gnashing his teeth and muttering as we endured some St. Louis four-wheelers demonstrating their worst driving habits right in front of us.

Incredibly cool truck.

Electronic logs and driver harassment: Where do the vendors stand?

We’ve heard a lot about electronic logging in recent years. It’s not because truckers and others are debating the pros and cons. It’s because Congress and the administration have proposed to make them mandatory.

As reported in Land Line, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published its supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking for electronic logs in the Federal Register on Friday during MATS week.

One of the manufacturers of such devices, a company called VDO, part of Continental Corp., was at MATS to discuss their RoadLog products with the press and the public.

When asked how their devices would meet the technical specs that accompany the proposed rule, company officials said they were still reviewing the materials and were not prepared to comment. But they did share some information that truckers may find valuable as the discussion moves along.

OOIDA and truckers are concerned that an ELD mandate would not address the issue of technology being used by carriers, dispatchers and others to harass drivers. This concern extends to being bothered or "pinged" to report or answer questions during on-duty, not-driving hours.

The basic VDO RoadLog device
The people at VDO say the basic device they offer is not equipped for direct communication.

“One of the key elements of the driver harassment issue is having the fleets do something they don’t feel like doing, for whatever reason,” Jeff Waterstreet, sales manager for VDO RoadLog, told Land Line.

“The existing Roadlog product that we sell today has no over-the-air communication, so there’s not a way for a fleet to harass a driver.”

In addition to the harassment issue, truckers may also be concerned about the cost of doing business under an ELD mandate.

VDO says an owner-operator could expect to pay about $600 for a basic VDO Roadlog. The fleet-specific packages would run about $700.
Waterstreet says the RoadLog does not come with additional costs, subscriptions or monthly fees.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Damp, cold, who cares?

Candy Bass and Carol Leavitt were honored for 40
 years plus as truck drivers
Is Saturday the busiest day at MATS or the day it starts winding up? Well, that depends on who you talk to. If you ask me, it’s the day you slow down on business seminars and press conferences but step up the hobnobbing with members and catching up with old friends.

Saturday morning’s awards ceremony announcing the winners of the Paul K. Young Truck Beauty Championships is such a cool event. OOIDA is a longtime sponsor of the trophy dash. There are a load of members and friends who work hard to compete in this contest. Each year for the affair, Carl Carstens of Rockwood, crafts extraordinary trophies. This year, he once again earned his title as The Master of Rosewood and Chrome. Watch for Field Editor Suzanne Stempinski’s coverage of the PKY.

At noon, throngs of truck driving women in red shirts appear all over the place, headed toward the annual Women In Trucking Salute. One of the big moments Saturday was the recognition of two women – Candy Bass and Carol Leavitt – who have been truckers for more than 40 years. OOIDA Life Member Candy Bass is from Hutto, Texas. She was also honored at MATS on Sunday morning’s prayer service at Papa John’s where Chaplain Joe Hunter and Emcee Bob Hataway offered up a tribute for Candy’s outstanding contributions to the trucking community.

After the show closes at 4 p.m., the action hits another gear in the parking lot at Papa John’s. This year, “Land Line Now” Host Mark Reddig was trying to set a record for number of total hours stage hosting … in the any-kind-of-weather category.

Cold, damp, who cares? Barbecue contest, silent auction, fun events hosted by trucker charity groups like Truckers United for Charities, Just Because, Trucker Charity, Operation Roger and JRB Memorial Fund. Friends, good food, music – how do you beat that?
Tony Justice

Speaking of music, have you seen Tony Justice’s new CD “Apple Pie and Moonshine” in truck stops? Tony is a driver for Everhart Transportation and OOIDA member from Dandridge, Tenn. He and his first-rate band put on an energetic show sponsored by OOIDA Saturday night on the main stage in Papa John’s parking lot. The sight of truckers dancing in the misty rain in front of the covered stage was surreal. The guy was an absolute hit. So, OOIDA members and early fans of Tony’s like Kari and Lee Fisher, Kim and Don Schmidt  get to tell me “I told you so.”

Gurl! Hold my ear-RANGS!

It was Friday night in Louisville, clear, calm and 56 degrees and sure was no kind of night to head back to the hotel and sit around my room watching my electronic stuff recharge. I heard that Papa John’s parking lot was jumpin’ and jivin’, so I was easily lured to the action.
As it turned out, it was true. The place was a sea of trucks and trailers. So many, there was no more parking.  Like totally spilling over.

Someone said there were maybe a thousand trucks there and they had to open a section of another parking area for more. I was doubtful, just a little, until I arrived there Friday night.
A big jet flew over, lumbering overhead in the direction of the nearly Louisville Airport. I wondered what these rows and rows of parked rigs must look like from the air.
Jan McCarter rockin' it.
On the OOIDA stage, our own "Land Line Now" Host and Minster of History (both serious and totally nutty) Mark Reddig was hosting the events of the evening. Here are a few of my observations.

Jan McCarter’s cover of “Stripes” was a knockout.
“I don’t look good in orange and I hate stripes." Really fun song about a gal who isn’t afraid of going to prison for killing her unfaithful boyfriend, but admits she simply wasn’t up to doing prison fashion. Gurl! Hold my ear-RANGS!

Brad James, a singing trucker whose Dock of the Bay YouTube video has made his name familiar, has a new fan. Me. 

Loved the trucker poetry, too, by the way.

The fundraiser that JBC group did to benefit OOIDA’s scholarship fund and Truckers for Troops was a
  -- get ready for it -- drag race. It needs no description. 
Marcia Campbell, Bill Rode, Don Schmidt and Mark Reddig
It was a complete doozy. After it was over, OOIDA Life Member Don Schmidt presented two checks for $1,350 each to OOIDA’s Bill Rode of Eagle, Idaho. Bill is the Association’s Treasurer and heads up the scholarship committee.

"This is for the OOIDA Mary Johnston Scholarship Fund, this is for OUR kids,” Don said as he gave Bill the donation. Now mind you it was dark, but I swear I saw a gleam in Bill Rode's eye when he accepted the donation to the scholarship fund. You have to know that nothing makes Wild Bill happier than building that scholarship fund. 
At one of the food tents, Redneck
and Angel Face were ready
to serve it up.

Sharing the stage for the presentation was America’s Trucking Sweetheart, Marcia Campbell. Marcia looked a bit different than the photos I had seen of her. Her new short hairdo was the result of her decision to cut her hair off and donate it – something she did a couple of weeks ago.

Marcia came from Nashville, where she does her WSM All Nighter radio show. The woman is a legend.
 Her Trucker Talent Spotlight has been a venue to plenty of trucking talent.
On Friday night, it featured music and poetry and even a bit of spontaneous clogging from Marcia (she does this every Saturday night at the Grand Ole Opry).

The food tents were lit up with those patio lights, and the smoke and smell of grilled brats, chicken and burgers? Oh my.

OOIDA member wins Apex Capital contest grand prize

OOIDA Member Martin Marvel of Lakeville, Ind., won Apex Capital’s Continental Tire Giveaway Contest grand prize. Marvel will receive a brand-new set of two Continental or General steer tires and services. The contest ran to celebrate a new partnership with the tire provider.

Marvel, owner of M&D Marvel Transportation, has been an Apex client since November 2011 and an OOIDA member since October 2005. Apex will visit Marvel in May to officially present him with the tires.

The contest ran to celebrate a new partnership with the tire provider. Apex and Continental/General Tire will offer Apex clients discounts on tier 1 and tier 2 tires.

Apex Capital’s program is designed specifically for Apex clients and allows them to purchase Continental Tires at a special, reduced rate. The new Apex tire program features nearly 1,000 dealers nationwide with more than 200 dealers in Canada. Apex Capital is a factoring company located in Fort Worth, Texas.

Wreaths Across America: going the 'Extra Mile'

The Truck Writer of North America’s “Extra Mile” Award was created to recognize those individuals, organizations and companies who have gone the extra mile by helping to make the trucking industry a better place.

Brad Bentley, editorial director of Driving Force, RPM and Big Rig Owner,
 presents the Extra Mile Award 
to Wreaths Across America  Executive
 Director Karen Worcester 
and WAA founder Morrill Worcester
(Photo by Sandi Soendker)
I guess it was coincidence that here at MATS this year a blog I wrote about experiencing the Wreaths Across America wreath-laying was recognized by my fellow TWNA members as Best of Internet Division.  That was Thursday night. A short time later, TWNA presented the Extra Mile Award to Morrill and Karen Worcester, founder and executive director of Wreaths Across America, respectively, for “going the ‘Extra Mile’ by working with the trucking industry to honor America’s fallen heroes.”

It came as a total surprise to me that Morrill and Karen were guests at Thursday night’s awards dinner. It’s become a project I feel deeply about. How can you NOT?

Like a number of other truck writers, WAA “had me from hello” – or to be more accurate, the minute I saw that Internet image of Arlington in the snow, the headstones and wreaths. You know the one that went viral years ago? If you haven’t see it, or read about WAA, here’s a really quick backgrounder: Wreaths Across America is a national nonprofit best known for their annual wreath-laying ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery and more than 900 locations nationwide.

A growing number of trucking companies and truck drivers volunteer their time and equipment every year to Wreaths Across America.

As a TWNA member, it was gratifying to recognize WAA’s efforts. And it was great for me to be able to meet them face-to-face and talk with them for a while. Heartfelt congratulations to Morrill and Karen and all the WAA people and the volunteers who make this happen every year.

OOIDA members stand out in PKY Memorial Truck Beauty Championship

I know these trucks and their drivers have hard jobs. They will tell you about them if you ask. They run down the road just about every day. They pay their bills and miss their families and fix the things that go wrong. They prepare for a truck beauty competition like warriors. No weather conditions too miserable, no delays acceptable.

They also drive awesome trucks. It’s part of who they are. No excuses for dirt or grime. Their tractors and trailers gleam with fresh paint, polished aluminum and sparkly chrome. When they tell you it’s a working truck, you can believe them.

They’re the folks who represent many of the things that are best about our industry. They say no to cheap freight; they’re good money managers; they know how to turn a customer for one load into a customer for the long haul; they’re truck drivers, owner-operators and small fleet owners.

“The Pursuit of Excellence” was the theme and the goal for the 25th Anniversary Paul K Young Memorial Truck Beauty Championship, and results reflected every bit of it.

Theresa DeSantis' 1985 Peterbilt 359.
(Photo courtesy of Rockwood Products)
For OOIDA Member Theresa DeSantis of Apache Junction, Ariz., winning was a dream come true and very unexpected. Her first competition was at the Great West Trucking Show in Las Vegas in 2010. She got hooked on the camaraderie and a trophy for her efforts as a brand-new competitor and came back the following year. All while working her 1985 red and orange striped Peterbilt 359. It’s a sweet ride that blends the old 359 feel with some modern conveniences. And it’s clean – like “eat off the frame” clean. Her results? Four trophies including Best of Show Working Bobtail.

Joel Dawes' 1988 Pete 379.
(Photo courtesy of Rockwood Products)
Joel Dawes and his son AJ, son and grandson of OOIDA Life Member Maurice Dawes, parked in one spot but competed in two shows. His white and green 1988 Peterbilt 379 named “Family Tradition” grabs a lot of attention. Big, sturdy, cleaned and detailed, Dawes’ truck was also competing for the championship of the National Association of Show Trucks. Judges came from both sides of the convention center to include him in their tallies. And when it was done, he took trophies from both events – including a first-place win from NAST.

Ryan Derrickson's 1999 Pete 379 and 2014 Great Dane reefer.
(Photo by Suzanne Stempinski)
Rising star OOIDA Member Ryan Derrickson of Medford, Wisc., brought out his recently refreshed 1999 Peterbilt 379 and 2014 Great Dane reefer, which is loaded with wow and an attention to detail that is bringing him more than a little notice. Look for Derrickson to be a hot contender in 2014.

Bill Rethwisch's 2013 Pete 389 and 2012 Polar tanker.
(Photo by Suzanne Stempinski)
The hottest guy on the lot, continuing a winning streak that started in 2013 and is racing forward without missing a beat is OOIDA Member Billy Rethwisch out of Tomah, Wisc. His 2013 championship tractor was parked inside the convention center while his newest entry for 2014, a 2013 Peterbilt 389 and painted to match 2012 Polar tanker trailer, is a lime green and white sensation. With four first-place trophies and Best of Show Working Combo on a truck that turns heads as well as miles, Rethwisch is now back at work hauling gas around the Midwest. His trucks don’t slow down and they always look good. He’s running to be the best, always.

Larry Graves' 1023 Peterbilt 389 and 2014 Mississippi tanker
(Photo by Suzanne Stempinski)
Best of Show Limited Mileage Combo was awarded to Larry Graves of Farmers Oil, Afton, Okla. Both at night with a dazzling display of lights and during the day with impeccably detailed chrome, stainless and aluminum; the aptly named “Silver Lining,” a 2013 Peterbilt 389 pulling a 2014 Mississippi tanker, turned heads from the front row to the back.

Bill Bowling's 1978 Kenworth W900A.
(Photo by Rockwood Products)
Bill Bowling of Fostoria, Ohio, won the hearts and minds of the judges and competitors alike with his black with gold striped 1978 Kenworth W900A. With a nod to yesterday and the LED-lit brilliance of today, this clean old truck swept into the top spot as Best of Show Limited Mileage Bobtail.

Brian Davis' 2005 Peterbilt 379 and 2012 Wilson hopper.
(Photo by Suzanne Stempinski)
One of the most coveted trophies is the People’s Choice Award. Voted by the public and his peers, Brian Davis had a smile brighter than sunshine when his name was called to receive this prestigious award. His 2005 blue and black Peterbilt 379 and 2012 Wilson hopper trailer literally rocked the crowds. With a stereo system that has enough wattage, speakers and sound for a football stadium, he had to load the trailer with corn just to keep it grounded. We’ll be seeing a lot more of this “Superfreak.”

Below are the complete results from the Paul K. Young Memorial Truck Beauty Championship:

Limited Mileage Combo
Larry Graves – 2013 Peterbilt 389 and 2014 Mississippi Tanker

Limited Mileage Bobtail
Bill Bowling – 1978 Kenworth W900A

Working Combo
Bill Rethwisch Jr. – 2013 Peterbilt 389 and 2012 Polar tanker

Working Bobtail
Theresa S. DeSantis – 1985 Peterbilt 359 EXHD

Jake Eilen Award
Josh Ihlenfeld – 2014 Kenworth W900 and 2008 Utility reefer

People’s Choice
Brian Davis – 2005 Peterbilt 379 and 2012 Wilson DH501

Best Combo Lights
Larry Graves – 2013 Peterbilt 389 and 2014 Mississippi tanker

Best Bobtail Lights
Ryan Almon – 2014 Peterbilt 389

Best Combo Paint and Graphics (tie)
Vinnie Diorio – 2013 Peterbilt 389 and 2008 Mac flatbed curtain
Larry Graves – 2013 Peterbilt 389 and 2014 Mississippi tanker

Best Bobtail Paint and Graphics
Bill Bowling 1978 Kenworth W900A

Best Engine
Larry Graves – 2013 Peterbilt 389 and 2014 Mississippi tanker

Best Interior
Larry Graves – 2013 Peterbilt 389 and 2014 Mississippi tanker

Limited Mileage – Combo
2. Vinnie Diorio – 2013 Peterbilt 389 and 2008 Mac flatbed curtain
3. Brian Davis – 2005 Peterbilt 379 and 2012 Wilson DH501
4. Mike Manuel – 1984 Peterbilt 359 and 2003 Benson flatbed
5. Donald Bowling – 2006 Peterbilt 379 and 2012 Mac doubles

Limited Mileage – Bobtail
2. Ryan Almon – 2014 Peterbilt 389
3. Ryan Van Haitsma – 2012 Peterbilt 389
4. Rick Anderson – 2014 Peterbilt 389
5. Johnny Boulay – 2005 Kenworth W900L

Working Combo – Lights
1. Bill Rethwisch Jr. – 2013 Peterbilt 389 and 2012 Polar tanker
2. Daniel Brubaker – 2014 Peterbilt 389 and 2015 Wilson livestock
3. Shawn Cielke – 2007 Kenworth T600 and 2014 Wabash reefer

Working Bobtail – Lights
1. Dallas McCord – 2007 Peterbilt 379
2. Bob and Shelley Brinker – 2000 Freightliner ClassicXL
3. Chad Sand – 2013 Peterbilt 389

Working Combo – Custom Paint, Graphics and Murals
1. Bill Rethwisch Jr. – 2013 Peterbilt 389 and 2012 Polar tanker
2. Ryan Derrickson – 1999 Peterbilt 379 and 2014 Great Dane Everest
3. Eric Bilgo – 1995 Peterbilt 379 and 2014 Mac Flatbed

Working Bobtail – Custom Paint, Graphics and Murals
1. Bob and Shelley Brinker – 2000 Freightliner ClassicXL
2. Theresa S. DeSantis – 1985 Peterbilt 359 EXHD
3. Dallas McCord – 2007 Peterbilt 379

Working Engine
1. Bill Rethwisch Jr. – 2013 Peterbilt 389
2. Ryan Derrickson – 1999 Peterbilt 379
3. Bob and Shelley Brinker – 2000 Freightliner ClassicXL

Working Interior – OEM Sleeper and Cab
1. Bob and Shelley Brinker – 2000 Freightliner ClassicXL
2. Ryan Derrickson – 1999 Peterbilt 379
3. Dallas McCord – 2007 Peterbilt 379

Working Interior – Cab Only
1. Daniel Brubaker – 2014 Peterbilt 389
2. Theresa S. DeSantis – 1985 Peterbilt 359 EXHD
3. Eric Bilgo – 1995 Peterbilt 379

1. Dave Friend – 1986 Peterbilt 359 EXHD
2. Matt Kelley – 1987 Mack R-Model
3. David P. Schnautz – 1981 Kenworth W900A

First Show – Combo
1. Alan Tepool – 2006 Peterbilt 379 and 2015 Wilson livestock
2. Mark Francois – 1985 Peterbilt 359 and 2003 Reitnouer flatbed
3. Brian Martin – 2003 Kenworth W900L and 2014 Wilson livestock

First Show – Bobtail
1. Chad Sand – 2013 Peterbilt 389
2. Dana Casto – 2005 Peterbilt 335
3. Larry Derr – 2014 Kenworth 680

Company Owned – Combo
1. Tom Scholton – 2012 Peterbilt 389 and 2013 Utility dry van
2. Zac Pletcher – 2012 Kenworth T-800 and 2013 Mac flatbed
3. Steven McDermid – 2000 Kenworth W900L and 2007 Great Dane reefer

Company Owned – Bobtail
1. Isaac Aguilar – 2005 Peterbilt 379
2. Ron Miles – 1998 Peterbilt 379
3. David Green – 2013 Freightliner Cascadia

New Truck – Combo
1. Daniel Brubaker – 2014 Peterbilt 389 and 2015 Wilson kivestock
2. Juan Jose Covarrubias – 2014 Freightliner Cascadia and 2013 Wilson flatbed curtain
3. Mike Kleean – 2014 Peterbilt 389 and 2014 E-Pack dump

New Truck – Bobtail
1. Nate Mason – 2013 Peterbilt 389
2. Rodney L Smith – 2013 Peterbilt 389
3. Chris Faine – 2014 Freightliner Coronado

Working Combo – 2006 and newer
1. Bill Rethwisch Jr. – 2013 Peterbilt 389 and 2012 Polar tanker
2. Shawn Cielke – 2007 Kenworth T600 and 2014 Wabash reefer
3. Dwight Earle – 2007 Kenworth W900L and 2015 East dump train

Working Combo, 2005 and older
1. Ryan Derrickson – 1999 Peterbilt 379 and 2014 Great Dane Everest
2. Eric Bilgo – 1995 Peterbilt 379 and 2014 Mac flatbed
3. Kenneth Fisher – 1997 Peterbilt 379 and 2007 East

Working Bobtail – 2000 and newer
1. Dallas McCord – 2007 Peterbilt 379
2. Mike Badyk – 2014 Peterbilt 389
3. Marty Warner – 2013 Peterbilt 388 glider

Working Bobtail – 1999 and older
1. Theresa S. DeSantis – 1985 Peterbilt 359 EXHD
2. Joel Dawes – 1988 Peterbilt 379

3. Troy Huddleston – 1991 Freightliner 120 Classic

Testing, testing ...

It's Friday morning, and the show is in full swing. Attendees are strolling along, filling their tote bags with MATS goodies. In a South Wing conference room just off the main corridor, a few truckers have stopped to sign up on clipboards - not for a chance to win a fancy prize, but for the opportunity to speak directly with the people who develop the rules they must live by on the highways.

FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro with
OOIDA Life Member Michael Potwin
and Rachel Martin
Photo by David Tanner, Land Line Magazine
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has hosted a public listening session at MATS each of the past few years. And although this year's session was about "New Entrant Knowledge Testing" - not the most exciting subject - the panelists, including FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro, heard a wide variety of topics on truckers' minds.

A few truckers used their time at the mic to speak about driver training and the role of technology -- for better or for worse -- in vehicle safety and industry compliance.

Truckers like Michael Potwin of Ridgewater, Mass., used his podium time to talk about big-picture issues such as the shortage of safe truck parking; the effects of CSA and enforcement on the small-business operator; and how technology such as electronic logs, adaptive cruise control and speed limiters are no substitute for a trained and experienced driver behind the wheel.

"Safety is a wonderful thing but (technology) is something that a lot of people hide behind," Potwin said.

During a midday break between morning and afternoon sessions, Potwin and companion Rachel Martin said they were glad for a chance to interact directly with Anne Ferro, the top federal regulator for their industry. Ferro in turn said she was glad to meet with truckers and hear directly about issues that affect them.

"I wish there were more truckers here for this opportunity," Potwin said.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Trucker Buddy's Outstanding Drivers of the Year

Trucker Buddy International honored five of its participants as Outstanding Trucker Buddies at a press conference at the Mid-America Trucking Show on Friday, March 28.

The drivers are connected to a diverse group of schools: One Trucker Buddy's class is across the Atlantic in Saint-Malo, France. The teacher says the reports of what seem like everyday occurrences are almost exotic and have encouraged students to improve their English skills.

Another driver told how his class is in a poor town in Kansas, and many of the students are part of single-parent families. The students regard him as their best friend and, in some cases, as a kind of stepfather.

Now in its 21st year, TBI has helped educate more than 1 million elementary school children about trucking  and often about life  by connecting the classes with dedicated, professional and caring truckers. 

The drivers named as Outstanding Trucker Buddies were:

  • Jim Stinemates, who corresponds with New Century School in Verona, Wis.
  • Bob Cravens, whose students are at Liberty Elementary School in Rocky Ford, Colo.
  • Matt Slovack, whose class is at Lincoln Irving School, in Moline, Ill.
  • Fred Sweetwood, whose class is in Marais des Cygnes Valley Elementary in Quenemo, Kan.
  • Linda Caffee, whose cards and stories fascinate students at College Chateaubriand in Saint-Malo, France.
Stinemates said the experience with TBI inspired him to send his letters to family and friends, detailing life on the road as well as his wife's encounters as she rescues feral cats. 

Cravens has had the same teacher for 18 years; some of the students he had at the start now have their own children who are second-generation Trucker Buddy participants. He encourages kids to get involved in their communities, from visiting nursing home residents to adopting pets from the pound.

Slovack is deeply involved with Boy Scouting as well as TBI, and teaches trucking and transportation merit badges. He said some 200 Boy Scouts will be at MATS on Saturday to learn about the industry and to work toward their badges.

Sweetwood got choked up talking about how much the admiration and affection of the challenged children in his class means to him, and how he tries to bring extras to them when he visits. For some of the kids, his gifts of pencils and erasers are the first new writing implements they've ever had.

Caffee's teacher found out about TBI via message boards, and represents one of several European schools that correspond with the faraway truckers. The children are constantly astonished at how far American truckers drive compared with the short distances in Europe. 

Also honored at the meeting was Mark Lothorp, as the year's Outstanding Trucker Buddy Ambassador. The ambassadors help represent the organization at industry events, extending the reach of TBI, which has only two full-time employees.

For more information about the Trucker Buddy Program, visit

OOIDA member wins Firestone tractor at MATS

OOIDA Member Brad Peterson in his 2013 Firestone Edition Class 8 truck.
(Photo courtesy of Firestone)
OOIDA Member Brad Peterson of Wellington, Colo., was announced as the grand prize winner of the Drive a Firestone Sweepstakes. Peterson won a 2013 Firestone Edition Class 8 tractor. Additionally, Peterson won an all-expenses paid trip for two to the 2014 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, assistance to help defray taxes, and up to a five-year supply of Firestone tires.

“This is the first contest I’ve ever won in my life,” said Brad Peterson, OOIDA member since January 2011. “I gave a big hug and kiss to my wife. I knew I had a 20 percent chance of winning. I’m retiring my current truck and using the new truck to haul equipment.”

Bridgestone Commercial Solutions announced the prize at the 2014 Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky. The grand prize win concludes the Firestone Drives America Tour, which was launched last July. The tractor features special highly customized interior and exterior appointments to turn it into a Firestone-brand truck.

Many more prizes were awarded during the sweepstakes, including all-expenses paid trips for two to a baseball championship series game, all-expenses paid trips for two to attend the college football national championship game, and $500 gift cards and Firestone-branded apparel.

Peterson was one of five finalists selected at random. Each finalist received a key, and it was Peterson’s key that started the engine. All five finalists received an all-expenses paid trip for two to the 2014 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race and the Mid-America Trucking Show where the grand prize was awarded.

The Drive a Firestone sweepstakes was open to drivers with a valid U.S. commercial driver’s license (Class 8) and who own or operate a Class 7 or 8 vehicle.

Scoring awards from Truck Writers of North America? Sweet.

The Truck Writers of North America Communication Awards is now in its 11th year of recognizing excellence in trucking industry journalism.

The awards dinner takes place every year at MATS. This year, the TWNA Communication Awards program generated 97 entries, ranging from newspaper and magazine articles to covers and layouts to press events. Only 70 scored high enough to earn an award. Only a select few scored division “bests.”

It’s a tough peer-judged competition, and when you see some of the other entries it’s always humbling. The trucking press is an extraordinary group -- remarkable in fact. Some of the writing, the art, the video we saw showcased last night was impressive. It makes you appreciate it when your entry is good enough to be recognized.

The Best of Division Awards are the biggies and Best of Radio went to Host Mark Reddig, Senior Engineer/Producer Barry Spillman and Second Sound Engineer James Fetzer for a segment on Glenn Childress, “Driver of Presidents.”

A second Best of Division award went to LL Editor-in-chief Sandi Soendker who was awarded Best of Internet for a blog that took her to the Missouri Veterans Cemetery to participate in a Wreaths Across America ceremony.

Kudos to Today’s Trucking – the excellent Canadian magazine that won the Best of the Best. 

Here’s a list of awards won this year by OOIDA media.

Gold Awards
Land Line MagazineHow flow can you go? – Paul Abelson
Land Line MagazinePork Chop Diaries – Land Line Staff
Land Line MagazineThe way we were – Greg Grisolano
Land Line MagazineWhen Johnny came trucking home – Bill Hudgins – WAA: Glad I did that – Sandi Soendker
“Land Line Now” – Glenn Childress – driver for presidents – Mark H. Reddig, Barry Spillman and James Fetzer
“Land Line Now” – Truckers survive disastrous storm – Patsy Terrell and Barry Spillman

Silver Award
Land Line MagazineJune 2012 Issue – Land Line Staff

Bronze Awards
Land Line MagazineLayover at Lucas – Sandi Soendker
Land Line MagazineThe big squeeze – David Tanner and Sandi Soendker
Land Line MagazineWhat’s your clearance, Clarence? – David Tanner
“Land Line Now” – Election Preview Special – Mark H. Reddig and Barry Spillman
“Land Line Now” – Truckers share memories of Dale Sommers – Mark H. Reddig & Barry Spillman

Travel Centers of America names seven winners of its inaugural Citizen Driver of the Year Awards

Do you have a favorite truck stop where everybody knows your name where you spend so much time you feel they ought to name it after you? That fantasy is coming true for six individual truckers and a trucking couple who are the grand prize winners in Travel Centers of America's inaugural Citizen Driver of the Year competition.

TravelCenters will be naming seven TA and Petro truck stops after the winners, who were chosen from 88 nominees, including many OOIDA members. The name changes will take place the week of April 14. The winners, and their truck stops, are:

  • Henry Albert, Laredo, Texas, TA: "Henry Albert Laredo Travel Center"
  • Jimmy Ardis, Manning, S.C., TA: "Jimmy Ardis Travel Center"
  • Linda and Bob Caffee, Petro North Las Vegas: "Linda and Bob Caffee North Las Vegas Stopping Center"
  • Charley Endorf, York, Neb., Petro: "Charley Endorf Stopping Center"
  • Jerry Fritts, West Memphis, Ark., Petro: "Jerry Fritts West Memphis Stopping Center"
  • Shawn Hubbard, Ontario, Calif., Petro: "Shawn Hubbard Ontario Stopping Center"
  • Norman Knight, Columbus, N.J., TA: "Norman Knight Columbia Travel Center"

The winners were announced at TravelCenter's annual driver appreciation lunch on Friday, March 28, at MATS. TravelCenters' President and CEO Tom O'Brien announced the competition last year at MATS, and in a video played at the lunch he said the competition will be an annual event.

Collectively, the 88 nominees have clocked more than 100 million accident-free miles. They came from 27 states and Canada, and represented 55 trucking companies. They included a number of Trucker Buddy participants, a Highway Angel of the Year, a Highway Hero finalist, volunteer firefighters, former police officers, volunteers in a wide array of community endeavors and at least one member of his town's city council.

O'Brien said The Citizen Driver Award is designed to help dispel the stereotypes many outside the trucking industry hold about truckers. Drivers not only keep America moving, but also serve their communities at many levels. Truckers and those who work in other aspects of the industry know that. Now it's time to educate others.

"The professional and personal standards held by this year's Citizen Driver Award recipients are the same standards held by thousands of fellow professional drivers across this nation," O'Brien said. "We are looking forward to awarding Citizen Driver status to as many of these fine individuals as we can for years to come."

Meet the new ride ...

There was only one thing to do with the new, one-of-a-kind Western Star designed by fans of the iconic truck maker, and that was to present it to OOIDA to use as the Association's new tour truck.

Western Star's Guy Lemieux presents the ceremonial key
to OOIDA Executive VicePresident Todd Spencer, and
OOIDA tour truck driver Jon Osburn.
Photo by David Tanner, Land Line Magazine
Decked out in a retro red-white-and-blue paint scheme, OOIDA's new tour truck will be hard to miss when it makes the rounds at truck stops and events around the country.

Western Star Marketing Segment Manager Guy Lemieux handed off the keys to OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer and Spirit of the American Trucker driver Jon Osburn on Friday morning at the Western Star exhibit at the Mid-America Trucking Show.

Western Star's "Design Our Star Project" was a unique interactive concept because the fans called the shots on social media for what the truck would look like. Hint: It's got the biggest of everything available from the engine to the sleeper.

Jon will certainly be riding in style for the next two years. Keep an eye on the tour schedule in Land Line Magazine and on the Web and make sure you stop and see this truck in all its glory. Click here to watch a video of the presentation.

Goodyear Highway Hero: OOIDA Member Ivan Vasovic

In those critical moments when a person's life hangs in the balance, there are people who would risk harm or even death for the chance to save that life. Ivan Vasovic is one of those people.

His actions on a fateful day last year have earned him the title of Goodyear Highway Hero. Goodyear presented Vasovic with the 31st annual award during this year's Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, and he was selected from an extraordinary group of four finalists.

Goodyear Highway Hero and OOIDA Member Ivan Vasovic.
Photo by David Tanner
Vasovic is a truck driver, an OOIDA member, and resident of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. He is an immigrant from Serbia, a part of Europe ravaged by conflict and war. He is grateful for his job and his way of life, and at least one family out there is forever grateful to him.

Vasovic had just begun his workday last October in Los Angeles when he witnessed a double tanker truck crash, first into a concrete divider and then into a guardrail. The tankers, punctured in the crash, were full of diesel fuel. The truck and first tanker ended up hanging precariously off the side of an overpass. The tanker driver, still conscious but now on fire from the ignited diesel fuel, kicked out a window and plunged to the ground, breaking an arm and a leg.

"In that moment, I saw him in danger," Vasovic said.

He then did something that put his own safety on the line. He and another witness had rushed forward to drag the tanker driver to safety, but the flames and heat were becoming too great. With seconds to spare, Vasovic rushed back to his own rig, doused himself with water and managed to drag the other driver another 20 yards to safety. Literally moments later, the double tanker came crashing down to the ground.

Vasovic did not stay around long at the scene. In fact, he went back to work not long after his heroic save. His company, Hub Group Trucking, nominated him for Goodyear Highway Hero.

 "I went back to work, you know," he said. "I washed my hands and I tried not to think about it. Only after, when people approached me and people saw the (news) video, then I got scared."

Vasovic has been trucking for 11 years, the past four with Hub Group Trucking.

Prior to that, he was in the military in the war-torn former Yugoslavia, where he worked for a Red Cross platoon.

"I grew up in a tough neighborhood," he says. "I had a tough childhood and everything."

Vasovic came to the U.S. in 2003 through the Red Cross, taking a job, fittingly, as a lifeguard.

He is now a member of the prestigious Goodyear Highway Hero family. He joins recent past winners Jason Harte, Mike Schiotis and Tilden Curl.

"Ivan's quick thinking and brave actions saved a fellow truck driver from a life-threatening situation," said Gary Medalis, marketing director, Goodyear Commercial Tire Systems. "He literally put himself in harm's way to save another person's life. Ivan's decision to interject himself into this deadly scenario is a powerful example of the selflessness exhibited by professional truck drivers. He has earned the right to be called a Highway Hero."

Scott Nelson, Highway Hero finalist Tim Horton, and
Karen Nelson meet in person for the first time.
Photo by David Tanner
Goodyear recognized three other finalists at this year's award presentation.

Brian Dunn of Knoxville, Tenn., pried the door from a burning car to rescue a 2-year-old boy. He says all he could think about were his own young children.

OOIDA Member Scott Rosenburg, Isanti, Minn., used a boom on the back of his truck to turn a vehicle back over after it landed upside down in a pond. His actions saved the driver, who would certainly have drowned.

Tim Horton, Sheridan, Ark., witnessed a vehicle crash 35 feet down into a ravine near Tuscaloosa, Ala., and braved the slope and treacherous terrain to help rescue a college graduate student, Tyler Nelson.

The Nelsons show a picture of their son, Tyler,
who was fortunate to have trucker Tim Horton
looking out for him after a crash.
Nelson's parents, Scott and Karen, of the Nashville area, attended MATS as guests of Goodyear. Although they knew one another would be in attendance, the Nelsons had never met Horton in person until the award presentation.

Grateful hugs and tears of joy flowed for these friends for life. Horton says he plans to meet Tyler, now 24, when he passes through Atlanta where Tyler studies.

"This is really amazing," said Karen. "His survival instincts just kicked in."

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The droid he was looking for?

New recruit?
In February's Land Line Magazine I wrote about robotic trucks and efforts to develop a truck-driving robot. So I was more than a little surprised walking through the West Wing of the Kentucky Expo Center this week at MATS to bump into recruiter Josh Parker and his newest recruit.
I'm not sure how R2D2 can reach the pedals, or even if he will need to. But he was really eager to get going, of course. I think his pal Threepio was off talking to a logistics outfit.

If you had a hammer ... or a Mack truck

Photo courtesy of Mack
Mack’s press conference at MATS this year could have been inspired by the late Pete Seeger, who wrote “If I Had a Hammer” along with whole slew of other iconic folk songs that celebrated America’s working people. Mack’s VP of Marketing John Walsh likened the Mack truck to a hammer and said, “People want tools they can understand and relate to.”

In fact, the whole press event had a Seeger feel to it, especially the “Man and the Machine” video.
Stephen Roy, President of Mack Trucks North America, Sales and Marketing announced clear new goals for its time-tested bulldog brand. Roy also told the trucking press that while Mack has enjoyed success in regional haul and vocational trucks, the truck maker is ready to expand its focus on the highway side.

Roy’s forecast: Mack now has the “right product, the product support and product solutions” to expand its focus to pursuing a bigger part of the Class 8 on-highway market share in North America.

Roy said in order to expand Mack’s focus on highway trucks, it has invested heavily in its tech support and increasing its support network for Mack customers. He said Mack’s total dealership network now numbers 428 full dealerships and facilities that offer parts and service.

Roy said Mack had worked hard to dominate vocational truck sales but hasn’t “done the job on the highway side.” A critical part of the plan is the new “uptime command center” at the Greensboro, N.C., campus, which is due to open in October. Roy said uptime had been a big focus for the past five years but the new three-story building will, for the first time, put all of their experts and tech support together in one location.

As part of the uptime focus, Roy talked about a new feature of Mack’s GuardDog Connect, which was introduced last year. GuardDog is a remote diagnostics program that sends vital breakdown info to Mack’s OneCall customer center.  A team of technicians evaluate the fault code and identify the exact issue and repairs needed. The driver is then instructed where to take the truck.

Roy said starting this year, GuardDog Connect now includes a new feature. When the truck pulls into the dealership, there’s a system to ensure it gets fixed and back on the road as soon as possible, using a virtual perimeter around a geographic location.

“There’s a geofence around every one of our dealerships,” Roy said. “So we’ll know when a truck comes into a dealership and when a truck leaves a dealership.” Roy said the GuardDog isn’t set up to be Big Brother, but to help the customer and assist the dealer.

“We’ll call the dealer and say, ‘We notice this truck is in; what can we do to help you get it out the door as soon as possible’?”

In another uptime plan to keep trucks rolling, Roy said the company was pushing hard toward 24/7 phone service. “Knowing there are after hour events,” he said, “the Mack Center is now answering calls on behalf of 60 percent of Mack dealers after their doors close.”

“We now stack up against anybody,” Roy said. “We hope our competitors will hear our footsteps.”

Mack’s overall share of the North American Class 8 truck market remains just under 10 percent, a level Roy hopes to see increase this year.

Roy has been on the job since Jan. 1, 2014. Previously, he led the company’s aftermarket business.

This isn’t the first time I’ve heard Mack’s new mantra. I went to Allentown about a month ago and had a chance to find out more about this.
For one thing, doesn’t Mack’s sister truck builder Volvo more or less have dibs on the on-highway segment? Roy clarified that the perception that Mack had developed its vocational focus as part of the Volvo Group to avoid infringing on Volvo Truck North America’s quest to dominate the highway segment was not accurate.

“One and one is not always two,” he has said, saying the Volvo Group does not want to place limits on the two truck makers. Roy said if one of the sister companies did not make a competitive highway truck, it shouldn’t be assumed the sales of such trucks would automatically go to one who did.

“So we want to see what Volvo can do on the vocational side and see what Mack can do on the highway side.”

Roy told the press in February the Mack Pinnacle with axle-forward configuration, especially the well-appointed Rawhide package, will likely play a role in the stepped-up effort.  

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Trucking Moves America Forward ... indeed it does

What does the word “movement” mean to you? Action, process? Take me -- a cause-oriented '60s kid and a longtime employee of OOIDA, an organization that is all about fighting for the rights of professional trucker. I guess I am somebody who can’t resist the launch of a big “movement.”

Today at MATS, a group representing people from every corner of the trucking industry got together and launched an industry-wide movement to shape a positive image of trucking. And it’s going to be done by telling the story of the people who make trucking possible.

Among the speakers were OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer, President of Jet Express Kevin Burch, driver Allen Boyd and technician Herschel Evans.

In the words of OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer, “we’ve got a story to tell.” And in my words -- it needs to be one that is shouted from the mountaintops. Because legislators and regulators need to keep hearing about the “essentiality” of truckers. Without them, the nation’s economy will hit the skids. That message seems to keep on getting ignored.

OOIDA Executive VP Todd Spencer
Photo by Suzanne Stempinski
Spencer said truckers are the most important people in the trucking industry. The job they do “moves the nation.”

“And the trucking industry needs to see it,” said Spencer at a press conference today in Louisville. “If we cannot see it, the public won’t either.”
The movement is called Trucking Moves America Forward – or TMAF if you must have an acronym. It brings all sectors of the trucking industry together in a positive movement that intends to do some serious steam-rollin’ in order to engage policymakers, industry professionals and the public.

Kevin Burch, president of Jet Express, cited a statistic I have not heard updated for a while but I jotted down. Did you know that 1 in 16 people in the U.S. are employed by the trucking industry? That doesn’t necessarily mean they are behind the wheel, but – 1 in 16? That’s impressive. Why can't this industry get the proper respect?

Plenty of people in the industry are on board with this one. Along with ACT 1, an initial founding member of the movement, other supporters include OOIDA, ATA, Allison Transmission, Bendix, Bridgestone, Cummins Inc., Daimler Trucks North America, Dana, Detroit and Eaton. Lots of familiar names. Here’s more: GE Capital, Goodyear, Great West Casualty, Hahn Transportation, Hendrickson, J.J. Keller, Jet Express Inc., Kenworth, Longistics, Love’s, Mack Trucks, Meritor, Michelin, Motor Carrier Service Inc., Old Dominion, Omnitracs, Pegasus, Peterbilt, Randall Reilly, Tennant Truck Lines, Tennessee Express, Trans Tech, TCA, Volvo and TRW.

You're going to hear more about Trucking Moves America Forward in the future. For now, check it out at or follow it on Facebook (Trucking Moves America Forward) or Twitter at @TruckingFWD.

Somebody has to do this.

Chasing mpgs

With profit margins thinner than Audrey Hepburn, truck builders are squeezing the brainpower out of their engineers to come up with every single thing that can be done to tweak fuel-saving enhancements.

Check out this slippery T680. (Photo by Jami Jones)

Some of those tweaks are obvious; some details you kind of have to look for them.
This morning at MATS, Kenworth, for example, showed the trucking press its T680 Advantage with 76-inch sleeper (it’s a new truck, just introduced in October) and pointed out some of the tricky new tweaks.

So there are the longer side extenders, lower cab fairing extenders for the 76-inch sleeper and front air dam. Then there are those aerodynamic mud flaps, even some optional wheel covers for drive tires.

The goal is to get as much as 5 percent more fuel efficiency. Kevin Barry, chief engineer, says the T680 will do that by May.

KW is chasing that 5 percent by combining the Paccar MX-13 engine, Eaton Fuller Advantage transmission, a Meritor 6x2 axle configuration and wide-base tires.

I’m not a fan of speed governors on all trucks, so their speed control management that utilizes speed limiters isn’t my favorite fuel-efficient feature. But the tire pressure monitoring system is neat, keeping tires at optimum PSI.

The new Kenworth Idle Management System, which provides 8 hours of A/C without idling, saves you about $4 an hour.

MATS – It just got real

It's real, we're here, and I'm revved up. I stashed piles of pre-trip paraphernalia all around the house: batteries, chargers, last year’s badge holder, socks, the pedometer that will surely track my mileage around the convention center, ibuprofen, those Dr. Scholl foot massagers to put in my shoes, a few more batteries, my laptop, iPad, iPhone, emergency chargers, cameras, lenses, favorite pen, last year's parking pass. Oh my favorite "must have" was a set of Chicago Bears cheek decals to share with a friend who lost a bet on a Chicago vs. Green Bay game. Yep, he's bringing some for me, too –although green and yellow are really not my best colors. I'm sure someone will snap a picture ... stay tuned.

Of course the weather can be just about anything and already is ... a little snow, a lot of wind and the need for gloves, hats and long johns. Seriously. But MATS is not a place to be weak. 
The show doesn't even open ’til Thursday, but the parking lots are full of vendors setting up. Along with the rest of the trucking press, we're here for Media Day where we get a chance to hear from OEMs and industry specialists about last year’s results, this year’s goals and expectations and product introductions.

And there's more. Don't miss this year's collections of shiny show trucks parked behind the West Wing. At last count, they were fast approaching 100. New ones, refurbished old ones, and some stuff that's just off the hook different. The light show is tonight. There will be enough lumens to power a medium-sized city.

I need more hours in my day. Gonna throw pages out of my MATS logbook and keep running. Woo-hoo!

Bendix looks forward

They may not have a crystal ball, but the folks at Bendix are confident the administration will issue a final rule on electronic stability control systems on trucks and buses by the end of 2014. And that's not all. The company says another potential mandate, this one known as forward collision avoidance, is just around the corner.

Fred Andersky, director of government and industry affairs and fleet marketing for Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems, briefed members of the press Wednesday morning at MATS about electronic stability control, or ESC, and forward collision avoidance.

Andersky says the ESC proposal, which was introduced by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in May 2012, could happen as early as October.

"We do expect a final rule to be published this year," Andersky said.

NHTSA estimates that the systems would add $1,160 to the price of new trucks and would prevent up to 2,300 crashes per year.

OOIDA has challenged those figures in comments filed to the official docket, saying the administration has overstated the benefits and understated the costs.

Turning to forward collision avoidance, Andersky says NHTSA is considering a 2015 to 2016 time frame to make a proposal, with a possible final rule in 2019.

Fred Andersky, director of government affairs for Bendix
Andersky is the face of Bendix in Washington, D.C., where he meets with lawmakers and regulators on issues such as stability control and collision avoidance for trucks and buses.

Preventing crashes is the stated mission of NHTSA, the FMCSA and other administrative departments in D.C.

"Things have changed a bit. NHTSA is doing a lot more reaching out," Andersky says.

He says Bendix is not in the business of pushing for mandates, but rather is providing guidance and research to federal agencies to make the right choices.

The example Andersky provides is the preference for ESC, as opposed to RSC, which is rollover stability control. With ESC, it's a more comprehensive technology that expands beyond rollover prevention.

"These systems are not going to make a bad driver a good driver, but they can help a good driver avoid having a bad day," Andersky said.

Keep an eye out for more information on the ESC proposal, and a future proposal for forward collision avoidance.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The all-access, back-stage, Wayne's World look at Wednesday at MATS

Most attendees are either plotting or plodding their way to Louisville at this point late on Tuesday evening. The LL crew is situated and settled in and ready to hit the ground running Wednesday morning.

I can sense the puzzled looks. The show doesn't start until Thursday. ... You're right it doesn't. But much like in "Wayne's World" when Wayne and Garth got the all-access passes to an Alice Cooper concert, that's pretty much what press credentials are like on the Wednesday before MATS starts.

Anyone who has been here knows the yellow windbreaker-clad people manning the doors. Some are sweet. Some are nice. Most are, well ... let's go with very serious about their jobs.

There have been plenty of times when I have had to flaunt my media credentials -- much like Wayne and Garth -- at them to get to where I need to be on Wednesday. See, it's the unofficial-official press kickoff for the show.

While the crews are finishing off booths, and maybe even starting them, the OEM, product and service suppliers and different groups are hosting press conferences. It's a full day.

But Wednesday is our chance to glimpse into the crystal ball of trucking's future. We'll talk the California Air Resources Board (hopefully), LNG/CNG/alt fuels, tires, aerodynamics, business tools and more.

Stay tuned and watch on Twitter too. We will be sneaking off to the show floor all day blogging and tweeting out sneak peeks. (It's the least we can do since we're like Wayne and Garth partying with Alice. ... Or in the real world actually getting to do what anyone without their own all-access pass to MATS can't do.)