Pride & Polish: Where eagles fly

Tim Thornhill’s 1986 Peterbilt 359, Trees Forever, was named Best of Show Bobtail. It also won Firsts in Interior Excluding Sleeper, Engine, and Custom Paint Non-Mural Bobtail.

“Via con Dios,” written on the back of Tim Thornhill’s 1986 Peterbilt 359, is Spanish for “Go with God.” And who knows – perhaps divine assistance was a factor in vaulting Thornhill to the top of the 2005 Pride & Polish.

Thornhill’s Trees Forever took Best of Show Bobtail in Overdrive’s annual competition at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas. Joining Thornhill at the top was Thomas and Kim Turner’s 1995 Peterbilt 379, El Dorado, which took Best of Show Combination.

While those two Petes had relatively simple paint schemes, some of the 51 entries bore more elaborate graphics that reflected patriotic and religious themes.

Some, such as Thomas and Maryann Quick’s 2000 Kenworth W900, show their national loyalty by including an eagle image. The truck’s name, America Bless God, reverses the classic “God Bless America” penned by Irving Berlin.

The truck has an eagle on the sunroof and an eagle sticker on the back of the cab. “It was a decal that was made for the first planes that went to the Middle East after 9/11,” Thomas Quick says. “They were from the Tennessee National Guard. They had an extra and gave it to us. I said it’d go great on this truck.”

“Our son is in the Army,” Maryann Quick says. “We are supporting our country.”

On the cab beneath the eagle is painted “Isaiah 40:31,” a reference to the biblical passage: “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles.”

The Quicks’ truck took Third in Interior OEM Sleeper and tied for first with John Schmitz’s 2000 Peterbilt 379 in Conventional Bobtail 1998-2000.

Pairing God and country isn’t unusual on a show truck, but surely some Pride & Polish attendees were scratching their heads when they saw Robert and Shelly Brinker’s 2000 Freightliner Classic, Dragon On, which combined patriotism and fantasy imagery.

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Shelly Brinker says she always loved the Peter, Paul and Mary song “Puff, the Magic Dragon” growing up, “and one thing led to another.” Al Proulx, a wildlife artist from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, designed and painted the dragon on the truck.

It’s Robert, not Shelly, who drives the truck. “I’m in the Army full time,” says Shelly, who is based at Michigan’s Camp Grayling. A Vietnam veteran, Shelly left active duty in 1971, served in the Army Reserve while working for General Motors, and now has returned to full-time service.

Dragon On’s patriotic facets go almost unnoticed, overshadowed by the green and purple paint, the images of dragons and dark knights, the dungeon-like cab decorations and the dragon eyes gleaming above the windshield. Yet the engine parts are painted red, white and blue, and at truck shows, the Brinkers fly the U.S. flag and the MIA flag.

The graphic efforts jelled well enough for Dragon On to pull Second in Custom Paint Mural Bobtail.

Nearly covered with an eagle mural is Carol Ann Schlussler’s American Eagle Limited Edition 2005 International 9900ix.

“For one whole year, I was the only one in the world with one like it,” says Schlussler, who received the truck in 2004 after being named Independent Contractor of the Year by the Truckload Carriers Association. Now there are 49 other Eagle editions.

Schlussler says her Eagle symbolizes freedom, both in the way she lives her life and her freedom on the road. She thinks so many truckers choose patriotic themes because they are more conscious of the problems faced by the nation, since they see more of it.

Schlussler won Third in Conventional Bobtail 2005-Newer.

Richard Harper’s 1994 Limited Edition Kenworth doesn’t go in for symbolism, but it does a fine job of being stylish, just like a certain ’80s pop superstar.

“I call it Purple Rain, because my wife likes Prince,” Harper says.

The truck is highlighted with lots of purple neon and stainless steel – “I take Windex to the stainless,” Harper says – but Harper is especially proud of the cab’s marble floor. “I did everything but the seats in the cab, and the couch I did myself. It took nine months.”
His hard work paid off. He rolled away from Pride & Polish with Second in 1994-1999 Combination and tied with Terry and Clint Dicks’ 2000 Peterbilt 379 for Second in Interior OEM Sleeper.

Elbow grease helped the Turners, too. “We wash it once a week,” Kim Turner says of their Best of Show Pete. “We work it every day. We average 17,000 miles a month.” The Turners themselves added almost all the chrome and leather to the teak and beige El Dorado.

Perhaps the most personal part of their rig is painted on the side of the cab: “In memory of Billy Sones, our best little buddy.” Thomas Turner met Sones while they were driving for Crete Carriers. “He never got to see our truck,” Thomas says. Sones died of a heart attack while hauling in Texas in 2003.

“He always came to the Dallas truck show to see the trucks and to celebrate his birthday,” Kim says.

Also missing from Dallas was Best of Show winner Thornhill, who sent driver Tony King in his place. Like all Pride & Polish entrants, King knows about the countless hours of care behind the brief moments of glory at the show.

“It’s easy to drive, but taking care of it is a different story,” King says. “It gets washed two or three times a week. People are always coming up to me saying, ‘You don’t work this truck.’ We work it and work on it.”

Sean McEndree served in the U.S. Army in Iraq until April 9, 2004, when he took a direct hit from the enemy.

“I was shot in the right shoulder and took shrapnel through my ribs,” McEndree says. “I lost part of my right lung, gall bladder, part of my intestines, a quarter of my liver and a portion of my diaphragm.”

Though he’s still recovering from the wounds, McEndree has taken up hauling cattle to support himself. McEndree started his own business, Veteran’s Express, in March and leased his truck through National Carriers.

Fallen Heroes is a 2004 Peterbilt 379 that honors all fallen American soldiers. Silver lettering on the hood reads, “In memory of Sgt. Barry K. Meza, KIA, 19 Dec 2004.” Meza and McEndree were in the same unit. “He was one of my best friends,” McEndree says. “He helped me through my rehabilitation when I was injured.” McEndree and his wife, Diane, wear black bracelets bearing the Meza tribute.

“Vets have tears in their eyes, and they say ‘Thank you’ to me at truck stops,” McEndree says.

A team of Texas Christian University design students won the third annual Freightliner Big Rig Redo, with an interior and exterior theme of hunting and fishing. Voted the winners by GATS attendees, the team received $1,000 for educational use.

The conversion, executed by Indiana Custom Trucks and valued at $15,000, involved removing the factory cabinets and bed and installing a fold-down bed, a fold-down table that displays fishing lures in a shadow box, an overhead cabinet, a wood finish linoleum floor, a 20-inch flat-screen TV with a built-in DVD player, and antler door handles. Seats, tires and other items were donated by vendors.

The competing Texas Christian team decorated a second Freightliner Classic in a classic car theme. It included a checkerboard linoleum floor and a stainless steel trim package in the sleeper and the cab.

Attendees at the Great American Trucking Show voted Jeff Fields’ 1979 Peterbilt most worthy of Castrol’s Big Honkin’ Truck Makeover.

The owner-operator from Tully, N.Y., wins a $50,000 interior, exterior and communications makeover, courtesy of Castrol Tection Extra.

“This has been awesome,” says Fields, whose wife, Jackie, encouraged him to enter the contest. Fields has driven Petes on local hauls and runs to St. Louis and Chicago for 20 years. He says he wanted to win for his 8-year-old son.

Runner-up Robert Jones of Lithia Springs, Ga., won a trip for two to the 2005 ACDelco National Hot Rod Association Nationals in Las Vegas, while finalist Ed Godfrey of Dallas won a portable DVD/CD/MP3 player and a selection of DVDs.

Fields’ improved Pete should be ready by December, complete with products from Grote Industries, Airtabs, InfoTrack, Sirius Satellite Radio, Alcoa Wheel Products, National Seating, Continental Tire North America and Pana-Pacific.

1986 Peterbilt 359, Tim Thornhill

1995 Peterbilt 379, Thomas and Kim Turner

2001 Freightliner XL132, Mark Pounds

1995 Peterbilt 379, Camille and Eric Carnaggio

1st (tie) 2000 Kenworth W900, Thomas and Maryann Quick
1st (tie) 2000 Peterbilt 379, John Schmitz
2nd (tie) 2000 Kenworth W900, Cindy Stowe
2nd (tie) 1999 Peterbilt 379, John Wesley Perry

1st 2001 Peterbilt 379, Lee Little
2nd 2001 Peterbilt 379, Truett Novosad
3rd 2001 Kenworth W900L, Jeff Hamilton

1st 2003 Peterbilt 379, Dave and Vicki Weldon
2nd 2003 Peterbilt 379, George (Rusty) Conn
3rd 2003 Kenworth W900L, Daryl Rodman

1st 2005 Peterbilt 379, Mike Ladd
2nd 2005 Peterbilt 379, Terry Weir Jr.
3rd 2005 International 9900ix, Carol Ann Schlussler

1st (tie) 2000 Peterbilt 379, Terry and Clint Dicks
1st (tie) 2006 Volvo VNL 780, James Thomas
2nd 1996 Peterbilt 379, David Kosar
3rd 2006 Peterbilt 379, Art Clubb

1st 2005 Peterbilt 379, Thomas Ritterbach
2nd 2005 Peterbilt 379, Danny Wolf
3rd 2005 Freightliner Century, Jim Derkson

1st 2003 International 9900ix, Harvey and Karen Zander
2nd 2000 Freightliner Classic, Robert and Shelly Brinker

1st 2002 Peterbilt 379, Terry Moore
2nd 2003 Western Star 4964EX, Lester Sullivan

1st 1986 Peterbilt 359, Tim Thornhill
2nd 2000 Peterbilt 379, Terry and Clint Dicks
3rd 2001 Freightliner XL132, Mark Pounds

1st 1986 Peterbilt 359, Jeff Hardage

1st 1995 Peterbilt 379, Thomas and Kim Turner
2nd 1994 Kenworth WL900, Richard Harper
3rd 1998 Peterbilt 379, Calvin Long

1st 2002 Peterbilt 379, Wayne Baker
2nd 2006 Peterbilt 379X, Phil Wiebe
3rd 2006 Peterbilt 379, George Elosegui

1st 1981 Peterbilt 362, Robert Young
2nd 1987 Freightliner 9642T, Mark Pounds

1st 1969 Peterbilt 359, Brett Wilkins
2nd 1963 Mack B-83,Eric Hardage

1st 1986 Peterbilt 359, Tim Thornhill
2nd 2002 Peterbilt 379, Wayne Baker
3rd 2003 International 9900ix, Harvey and Karen Zander

1st 1995 Peterbilt 379, Thomas and Kim Turner
2nd 2005 Freightliner M2 112, Donald and Yvonne Gibson
3rd 2000 Freightliner Classic XL, David and Cindy Cloud

1st 2003 International 9900ix, Harvey and Karen Zander
2nd (tie) 2000 Peterbilt 379, Terry and Clint Dicks
2nd (tie) 1994 Kenworth WL900, Richard Harper
3rd 2000 Kenworth W900, Tom and Maryann Quick

1st 1986 Peterbilt 359, Tim Thornhill
2nd 2003 Peterbilt 379, Dave and Vicki Weldon
3rd 2001 Peterbilt 379, Truett Novosad

1st 1995 Peterbilt 379, Camille and Eric Carnaggio
2nd 2005 Peterbilt 379, Paul Stanchio
3rd 2005 Freightliner M2 112, Donald and Yvonne Gibson

1st 2005 Freightliner M2 112, Donald and Yvonne Gibson
2nd 2005 Peterbilt 379, Larry Christopherson
3rd 1995 Peterbilt 379, Thomas and Kim Turner

1st 1995 Peterbilt 379, Camille and Eric Carnaggio
2nd 2000 Peterbilt 379, Terry and Clint Dicks
3rd 2005 Peterbilt 379, Terry Weir Jr.

Nine companies sponsored the 2005 Pride & Polish truck beauty contest.

  • Alcoa gave away a set of Dura-Bright aluminum wheels.
  • Bridgestone handed out bags filled with tire gauges and other items and donated a set of steer tires to the Most Technologically Advanced Cab winner.
  • Freightliner gave away 80 truck stop directories and supplied meal vouchers for three days to contest entrants. The company’s Alliance Parts division gave $20 gift cards.
  • Peterbilt gave away license plates and a pen with a built-in light.
  • Mobil Delvac supplied T-shirts.
  • United pacific gave away promotional hats and travel bags.
  • Interstate Scales handed out 144 insulated mugs.
  • The other sponsors were Panelite and ProMiles.
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