Art and Soul

Rusty Wyrick carefully researched the history of Mardi Gras and New Orleans’ French Quarter when planning the graphics he used to convert the truck formerly known as Gone With the Wind into French Quarters. The 1998 Western Star features murals of Jackson Square, a voodoo princess and a jester, which Rusty calls a “kind, but sadistic” figure.

Many truck beauty show enthusiasts use their rigs as blank canvases on which to express their individuality through vivid, often extraordinarily detailed paintings. The theme may be Western, tropical, historical or theatrical, but the motivation remains the same: to tell a personal story while presenting the best possible image of the trucking industry.

R.A. Johns III’s 1990 Peterbilt 379, Streaker, features both truck and trailer murals of wild horses kicking up dust. The rig took Best of Show at the 1992 and 1993 Pride & Polish events in Louisville, Ky.

Step up to Gordon and Janie Levering’s 1998 Western Star, and you step back to the Civil War-era South. A love of movies and Victorian décor made selecting a theme for the truck easy, says Janie. The truck’s detailed depictions of scenes from Gone With the Wind, combined with the opulent interior, garnered many a trophy for the Leverings.

When Suzanne Stempinski and her husband, Bob, go on vacation, they want to enter an “isolation bubble,” Suzanne says. “Diving is about the closest thing to that,” she told Overdrive upon tying for Best of Show Combination at the 1999 Dallas Pride & Polish. The couple’s champagne-colored 1999 Volvo 770 takes spectators inside the world of scuba diving – complete with air bubbles.

Western themes are perennial favorites on the show truck circuit. Mike and Bonnie Burns’ 1996 Kenworth W900L AeroCab, Dream Catcher, features an Indian maiden on one side of the cab and a Stetson-topped cowboy on the other. Majestic mountains and colorful desert scenes complete the display.

Most people head to the beach for rest and relaxation. But that’s where David Geer found inspiration. The word “marooned” popped into his head while he sat on the beach thinking of his truck. He had his 1998 Peterbilt 379 painted maroon and added a mural of a deserted island. The rear window in the sleeper glows from the light of a neon palm tree. The truck has won numerous awards, including Best of Show Combination at the 2001 Pride & Polish in Dallas.

“Defeated only by God” is the motto gracing the yellow and purple 2004 Peterbilt 379 owned by David Goode of Goode Towing and Recovery. The 50-ton wrecker features a mural of a muscle-bound giant lifting stacks of bricks that spell out his name: Goliath. The truck also has a muscular price tag: $320,000.

Harvey and Karen Zander’s 2003 International 9900ix, Icy Blu 2, pays tribute to family. The truck features the image of Harvey’s daughter Tatum, who died at 17 months, above the mural of the U.S. map and flag that covers the back of the cab. Featured on the sides of the truck are the Zanders’ grandchildren, Becca and Jake, playing in a snowy scene. Details, such as footprints of pets going from the fenders to the cab and snow trucks resembling the Zanders’ old trucks, add layers of personal meaning to the snowscape.

Donnie and Diana Harper had been designing their new show truck for a year when the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks happened. They decided to add to their hood a mural of the World Trade Center’s twin towers, President George W. Bush and New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. The couple even carries pieces of the World Trade Center with them in the truck.