Two to Tango

Russ and Debbie Brown

It’s no accident that many of the Pride & Polish entrants are teams. Preparing a truck for show requires countless hours of tedious labor, so it’s good to have the extra hands, as well as someone to pass the time with. And some couples find that each person contributes in ways that complement the other’s talents.

Russ and Debbie Brown, who have won at Pride and Polish with three different trucks, work closely as a team when designing a new show-worthy rig. Typically, Russ is in charge of the outside and Debbie the inside. “She has good color coordination,” Russ says.

Debbie also has a good sense of what works and what is over the top. When they were designing their current rig, a 1999 Freightliner Classic with a Harley-Davidson theme, Russ marked the parts of the frame and body that he wanted to paint orange. Debbie came behind him at the shop and ripped off half the tape. “The shop people cheered,” chuckles Debbie. “He has great ideas, but he goes too far sometimes and needs to be toned back.”

The best-in-show partnership is ready to tackle the next project after the 2005 Pride and Polish at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas. The truck, which will be the couple’s seventh tractor – and possibly their last – will be new and larger than their current ride, and that has Debbie already thinking of the possibilities.

Whatever she plans for the inside will fit his exterior concept, Russ says. “She’s the yin to my yang.”

When Rusty Wyrick and his partner Tina Lomax, of Mansfield, Ohio, entered their first show together, they agreed the truck needed cleaning after driving through a horrible rain. They just lacked a plan for dividing the work. “We both just started cleaning,” Tina says.

Over time they have gotten more organized. “We’ve developed our favorite areas to clean,” she says. “We’ve actually had people tell us we have a pretty good system.”

Rusty and Tina now wash and polish their truck, French Quarters, regularly after a day of driving, he says. “It’s also our way of unwinding at the end of the day,” Tina says. “It beats watching television.”

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French Quarters, is a reincarnation of the familiar show truck Gone with the Wind. “We took it down to the frame and had it gutted and rewired,” Rusty says.

Tina hadn’t come into the picture when Rusty was designing the truck, but has since participated in new ideas for the interior. “We come up with new things for each show,” she says. For example, they’ve added more than 600 chrome button covers.

That sort of attention to detail is one trait they share. “If we were in The Odd Couple,” Tina says of the classic comedy, “we’d be Mr. and Mrs. Felix Unger because we’re both very picky about how the truck looks.”

For Harvey and Karen Zander, showing their truck as a team is another dimension of an industry involvement that extends far beyond cashing a settlement check.

“We do driver education, we do Trucker Buddy, we speak at hours-of-service change meetings with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration,” says Karen. “We’ve given some talks for the Minnesota Trucking Association.”

With that kind of involvement in matters related to trucking image, showing a winning truck is a natural fit for Harvey, a former Overdrive Trucker of the Year, and his wife of 20 years.

“We’ve kind of figured over the years who can do what,” Karen says. Harvey applies the wax and polish; she removes it, except for the stacks. Harvey cleans underneath the truck. Karen goes over the truck with a toothbrush, doing the detail work.

As for appearance and level of preparation, she and Harvey haven’t had major disagreements about their truck, Icy Blu 2, a 9900ix International, and its predecessor, Icy Blu.

“Our philosophy is if it’s not going to make a difference a year from now, then we don’t worry about it,” says Karen, who works outside of trucking.

She says some of her favorite moments have been preparing for truck shows at night, when the crowds are gone. “We’re working together toward a common goal,” she says. “It’s peaceful and quiet, and we can actually have some quality time talking together.”

Ray and Karen Pierce, from St. Augustine, Fla., jointly embraced the show truck idea from the beginning. They built the sleeper themselves by putting a step-van body onto the frame of a Peterbilt 379EX, stretched to 336 inches, which they call Soul Mates.

“When we first started, we drew the plans with chalk in a Wal-Mart parking lot,” Karen says.

She got the interior decorator’s job. “We have the same tastes, so there wasn’t much disagreement,” Ray says. “Karen made the curtains while we were driving down the road.”

They both like dolphins, so she picked material with dolphins on it.

“We do this because we enjoy showing the truck to kids and letting them get in, and showing it to drivers’ wives who’ve never seen something like this,” Ray says. “The best sponsors I have are God and my wife.”

“It’s all about sharing what we’ve been blessed with,” Karen says.

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