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Harvey and Karen Zander’s Icy Blu 2 took top bobtail honors at 2007 Pride & Polish.

The heavy competition this year in the Pride & Polish truck beauty contest at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas was best assessed, perhaps, by 37-year veteran driver Gregg Farrar. Busy the week before on his Dallas-to-El Paso dedicated run for Bilbo Transport, he hadn’t had time to fully detail the engine on his 1995 Pete 379. Great American Trucking Show in Dallas was best assessed, perhaps, by 37-year veteran driver Gregg Farrar. Busy the week before on his Dallas-to-El Paso dedicated run for Bilbo Transport, he hadn’t had time to fully detail the engine on his 1995 Pete 379.

“It’s all right,” Farrar said. “It’s all worth it just for the time my son and I have together here.”

Gregg Jr., a 19-year-old diesel mechanic, is a full partner in the truck. “When I get my CDL, this will be mine,” Gregg Jr. says. “And I’ll build one to show, too.”

Among a total of 68 entries, also preparing to pass the torch was the Best of Show winner in the combination category, Jeff Hardage of Garland, Texas. While his austere, sleek J&C Investments 1986 Peterbilt 359 and Utility van trailer (on the cover) took top honors, his 9-year-old son’s 1963 Mack B83 – in the Hardage family for three generations – did pretty well, too.

For the second year in a row, Overdrive’s 1999 Trucker of the Year, Harvey Zander, and his wife, Karen, took Best of Show in the bobtail category for their own family tribute. Their Dart Transit-leased 2003 International 9900ix, Icy Blu 2, is well-known among Overdrive readers for its murals: the Zanders’ granddaughter Becca on the driver side and their grandson Jake on the passenger side.

New this year for the Zanders? “A brand-new International grille,” Karen says. Its fins are tapered upward slightly from the grille’s center to mimic the shape of the International logo where grille and hood meet. The exhaust from the ProHeat gen-set on the passenger side has been fully integrated into the frame design. The Zanders have run the pipes parallel through the frame and out the rear of the tractor. Add a newly decorative bumper to the Minnesota couple’s winter-themed tractor – plus a doll with its tongue stuck to the driver’s step, as in A Christmas Story – and you’ve got a winner.

“Wholesome,” 2007 Overdrive Trucker of the Year Henry Albert called it. The truck claimed numerous awards, including Firsts in Bobtail 2003-2005, Engine and Custom Paint Mural Bobtail.

Hardage’s 359 has come a long way since he bought the fire-damaged truck in 2002. “The fire had shelled everything,” he says, leaving the truck with “no windshields, no interior, no plumbing, no electrical, no nothing. We built the filter covers, the fender liners. So much stuff you can’t buy for the 359 anymore, so we built it.”

Hardage bought the black high-cube van, outfitted with chrome trim and doors, in 2004 and added a subtle J&C Investments logo. He chose the maroon of Texas A&M (of which Hardage is a big fan) for the lettering to match the paint on the tractor’s fenders and the center stripe on the hood.

But the 359 made its first appearance in the 2004 Pride & Polish without the van, finishing second that year in the fleet-owned bobtail category.

Hardage’s grandfather and father were truckers. His father, Harold Hardage, later became an exporter of used trucks and parts, using the 1963 Mack B83 and its heavy-duty rigging body well into the 1990s to load and maneuver large truck components. After Harold died in 2003, Jeff began restoring the Mack as a monument to Harold – and his own past.

At this year’s show, Harold’s “beat-up old greasy hat,” as his son put it, graced the seat in the immaculate interior. “I never take it out of there,” Hardage says. “This truck is what got us showing. I’ve been offered quite a lot of money for it, but I will never sell this truck.”

The Mack’s official owner is Hardage’s 9-year-old son, Eric. “When he hits 18, if he wants to sell it, fine,” Hardage says.

Will he? “Probably not,” says Eric, who looks forward this winter to helping his father replace the Cummins engine with a newer model and installing internal-drive power steering that will get the truck closer to fully working condition.

Eric also anticipates crossing many more stages to pick up trophies, but this year the B83 took second to Philip Donaldson’s newly restored 1967 Mack B-61 wrecker in the antique non-working category.

Hardage may have inadvertently hurt his son’s chances this year. “Philip’s a buddy of mine I helped convince to show with us out here,” Hardage says.

“We go way back,” says Donaldson, a first-time Pride & Polish participant. “Both our fathers were trucking together, and I owe Jeff’s dad for getting me into the parts business.” Donaldson drove the B-83 while employed by Harold in the late 1980s.

Donaldson’s truck is owned by U.S. Truck Parts, with two locations in Dallas specializing in used truck and parts sales and transmission and differential service. Company founder Vaughn Thompson has owned the truck for 25 years, Donaldson says; the two men and a crew worked two months to restore the Mack.

The Participants’ Choice Best of Show award, voted on by other Pride & Polish truck owners, went to Robert and Shelley Brinker, back with their Pirates of the Caribbean-themed Legend of the Black Pearl, a 2000 Freightliner Classic XL.

Additions this year include portraits of characters Captain Barbossa and Davy Jones on opposite fenders. The new leather interior includes leather seats with one of Hernando Cortez’s maps down the center upholstery. Embroidered medallions on the top of the seat back represent pirate treasure. New red velvet curtains, when drawn at night, feature two skull-and-crossed-sword flags visible from the outside.

The Brinkers recently had lunch with 4-foot-1 actor Martin Klebba, who plays Marty in the Pirates movies. “He wants to be on one of the rear fenders,” Shelley says. Klebba invited the Brinkers to Hollywood to visit the Disney studios, and the Brinkers hope to make the trip this year.

Klebba autographed the wood cabinet door above the driver seat and added the inscription, “This captain seems to be actin’ a bit strange. Errr!!” The Brinkers carried off treasure of their own, including first-place trophies in Conventional Bobtail 2000-2002 and Interior OEM Sleeper.

Julian Perez, otherwise known as “Big Daddy,” was back in the top spot for the Charity’s Choice award, voted on by show attendees. Perez brought along a large stuffed ape, which he positioned on the fender of his Freightliner in tribute to his father, who died in May. The elder Perez frequently brought a small stuffed monkey along on their Special Olympics convoy rides.

“Did you like my monkey?” Perez asked a voter on her way to the Charity’s Choice box.

“The monkey was cute,” she said, “but I liked that one,” pointing to the Zanders’ International.

He didn’t bring along a primate, but Steve Hendershot of Buckshot Express in La Porte City, Iowa, won first place in the Custom Paint Non-Mural Bobtail category for his 1985 Kenworth replica of the K100 driven by actor Greg Evigan with his chimpanzee companion in the 1979-81 TV show B.J. and the Bear. Hendershot garnered a raft of attention, and not just for the recognizably retro paint scheme. His was the only cabover in the show.

“A lot of the kids thought it was a fire truck,” he says.

Former Pride & Polish contender Darrell Caldwell visited Jeff Hardage on the last day of the show. Seeing the trophy on the 359’s step, he pointed and said, “Is that …?” before offering a congratulatory handshake.

“Coming out here every year, you see a lot of the same people, make a lot of new friends, and the camaraderie is great,” Hardage says.

At the same time, he conceded, winning has its merits. “It means everything to hold the bragging rights going into next year.”

Another of Hardage’s old Pride & Polish friends, Paul Stanchio of Port Washington, N.Y., won Best of Show Combination at TruckerFest at the Petro in Reno, Nev., just two weeks before GATS. “Before we got here, he called me and wished me luck,” Hardage says. “I guess it worked.”
– Linda Longton contributed to this story

PRIDE & POLISH WINNERS
Best of Show Bobtail
2003 International 9900ix, Harvey and Karen Zander

Best of Show Combination
1986 Peterbilt 359, Jeff Hardage

Best of Show Limited Mileage Bobtail
2001 Peterbilt 379, James Gobel

Best of Show Limited Mileage Combination
2007 Peterbilt 379, Keith Everett

Charity’s Choice
2002 Freightliner FLD120, Julian Perez

Participants’ Choice
2000 Freightliner Classic XL, Robert and Shelley Brinker

Conventional Bobtail 2006-Newer
1st: 2007 Freightliner Coronado, Ed Bosket (above)
2nd: 2007 Freightliner Coronado, Leonard Martin
3rd: 2007 International 9900ix, Curt Miller and J&R Schugel Trucking

Conventional Bobtail 2003-2005
1st: 2003 International 9900ix, Harvey and Karen Zander
2nd: 2005 Peterbilt 379, Sean and Diane McEndree
3rd: 2005 Kenworth W900L, David Foster

Conventional Bobtail 2000-2002
1st: 2000 Freightliner Classic XL, Robert and Shelley Brinker
2nd (tie): 2001 Kenworth W900L, Jeff Hamilton; 2001 Peterbilt 379, Truett Novosad
3rd: 2002 Freightliner FLD120, Julian Perez

Conventional Bobtail 1992-1999
1993 Peterbilt 379, Ron Brubaker (above)

Conventional Bobtail 1982-1987
1982 Peterbilt 359, Mike Ladd (right)

Conventional Combination 2000-Newer
2007 Kenworth W900, Dan Worley and Greg Muirhead Trucking (right)

Conventional Combination 1992-1999
1st: 1995 Peterbilt 379 extended hood, Vaughn Miller (right)
2nd: 1998 Peterbilt 379, Calvin and Ellen Long
3rd: 1999 Peterbilt 379, Tommy Roach

Best of Show Bobtail
2003 International 9900ix, Harvey and Karen Zander

Best of Show Combination
1986 Peterbilt 359, Jeff Hardage

Best of Show Limited Mileage Bobtail
2001 Peterbilt 379, James Gobel

Best of Show Limited Mileage Combination
2007 Peterbilt 379, Keith Everett

Charity’s Choice
2002 Freightliner FLD120, Julian Perez

Participants’ Choice
2000 Freightliner Classic XL, Robert and Shelley Brinker

Conventional Bobtail 2006-Newer
1st: 2007 Freightliner Coronado, Ed Bosket (above)
2nd: 2007 Freightliner Coronado, Leonard Martin
3rd: 2007 International 9900ix, Curt Miller and J&R Schugel Trucking

Conventional Bobtail 2003-2005
1st: 2003 International 9900ix, Harvey and Karen Zander
2nd: 2005 Peterbilt 379, Sean and Diane McEndree
3rd: 2005 Kenworth W900L, David Foster

Conventional Bobtail 2000-2002
1st: 2000 Freightliner Classic XL, Robert and Shelley Brinker
2nd (tie): 2001 Kenworth W900L, Jeff Hamilton; 2001 Peterbilt 379, Truett Novosad
3rd: 2002 Freightliner FLD120, Julian Perez

Conventional Bobtail 1992-1999
1993 Peterbilt 379, Ron Brubaker (above)

Conventional Bobtail 1982-1987
1982 Peterbilt 359, Mike Ladd (right)

Conventional Combination 2000-Newer
2007 Kenworth W900, Dan Worley and Greg Muirhead Trucking (right)

Conventional Combination 1992-1999
1st: 1995 Peterbilt 379 extended hood, Vaughn Miller (right)
2nd: 1998 Peterbilt 379, Calvin and Ellen Long
3rd: 1999 Peterbilt 379, Tommy Roach

Firestone Most Technologically Advanced Cab
1st: 2006 Freightliner M2112, Lynn and Shirley Baxter and Alvin Mann (above)
2nd: 2003 International 9900ix, Harvey and Karen Zander
3rd: 2001 Peterbilt 379, Truett Novosad

Peterbilt Council of Class
1st: 2001 Peterbilt 379, James Gobel
2nd: 2005 Peterbilt 379, Sean and Diane McEndree
3rd: 2005 Peterbilt 379, Driver Phillip Clayton and owner Danny Ray

Engine
1st: 2003 International 9900ix, Harvey and Karen Zander
2nd: 2000 Freightliner Classic XL, Robert and Shelley Brinker
3rd: 2007 Freightliner Coronado, Ed Bosket

Interior Excluding Sleeper
1st: 2001 Peterbilt 379, Truett Novosad (above)
2nd: 2007 Peterbilt 379, Randy Supak and Novosad Enterprises
3rd: 2007 Peterbilt 379, Brad Caton and Tom Eilen & Sons Trucking

Interior OEM Sleeper
1st: 2000 Freightliner Classic XL, Robert and Shelley Brinker
2nd: 2003 International 9900ix, Harvey and Karen Zander
3rd: 1993 Peterbilt 379, Rob Brubaker

Interior Custom AfterMarket Sleeper
1st: 2006 Freightliner M2112, Lynn and Shirley Baxter and Alvin Mann (left)
2nd: 2003 International 9900ix, Harvey and Karen Zander
3rd: 1993 Peterbilt 379, Ron Brubaker

Custom Paint Non-Mural Bobtail
1st: 1985 Kenworth K100, Steve Hendershot
2nd: 1993 Peterbilt 379, Ron Brubaker
3rd: 2001 Peterbilt 379, Truett Novosad

Custom Paint Mural Bobtail
1st: 2003 International 9900ix, Harvey and Karen Zander
2nd: 2000 Freightliner Classic XL, Robert and Shelley Brinker
3rd: 2005 Peterbilt 379, Sean and Diane McEndree

Custom Paint Non-Mural Combination
1st: 2007 Peterbilt 379, Brad Caton and Tom Eilen & Sons Trucking
2nd: 1995 Peterbilt 379EX, Vaughn Miller
3rd: 1992 Peterbilt 379, Ted Dykes Sr.

Custom Paint Non-Mural Limited Mileage
1st: 2007 Peterbilt 379L, Jake Linda-mood (right)
2nd: 2007 Peterbilt 379L, Bobby Linda-mood
3rd: 2007 Peterbilt 379, Keith Everett

Custom Paint Mural Limited Mileage
2001 Peterbilt 379, James Gobel


BRING ON THE SHOW TRUCKS
Numerous Pride & Polish regulars commented on the high level of competition this year, with new contenders in the limited-mileage category (under 50,000 miles per year) and more entries made over by the Chrome Shop Mafia, some on the Trick My Truck TV series.

Mafia-customized trucks in competition included Robert Pike’s 1998 Kenworth W900L and Ben Brownlow’s 1994 Peterbilt 379, Heart of Texas, which finished second and third in the new Show Truck category (no mileage limit).

Finishing first, however, was Pride & Polish vet Adrian Rocamontes’ Sledgehammer, a low-slung – or “slammed,” as first-time show participant Steven “Buck” Landry called it – Peterbilt 379 that’s won honors in past years. Rocamontes grew up around his father’s welding shop and now customizes trucks in San Antonio. “It’s all fun,” he says.

Best of Show Limited Mileage honors went to Pride & Polish first-timers in both Bobtail and Combination categories. The Bobtail winner was a deep brown 2001 Peterbilt 379, Dead Man’s Hand, from Outlaw Customs in Denver. Andy Gobel, who founded the business with his brother Alex and their father, Alan, says the truck was totaled when they started, its frame bent double. “It was a big nightmare.”

They finished the restoration the day before trucks were admitted into the show. Features such as super-heated, twisted aluminum mirror mounts show a craftsmanship and attention to detail perhaps unmatched among the competition.

Limited Mileage Combination winner Keith Everett, director of operations at Rich Logistics in Little Rock, Ark., says he caught the show truck bug when he partnered with one of his owner-operators on an entry. This year, he and his wife, Shannon, customized a 2007 Peterbilt 379 into a horse-hauling ride of high-end RV quality, complete with satellite connections, a boutique Kenwood sound system with in-dash display, and a Bloomer horse trailer customized with living quarters and two slide-out bunks.

Everett and his son use the truck to travel to weekend team-roping tournaments. “Every time I get a chance, I’ll get in it and haul a load somewhere,” says Everett, who started in the early 1980s at 8 cents a mile with MDR Cartage of Jonesboro, Ark. “I can’t not drive a truck.”

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