Crank it up

The Great American Trucking Show, Aug. 20-22 at the Dallas Convention Center, will help prepare owner-operators for the future and fill in with some fun. Highlights include the TruckSmart Summit, focusing on 2010 engine technology, a Partners in Business workshop, Overdrive’s Pride & Polish truck beauty contest and a concert by country music chart-topper Tracy Lawrence.

The show has become one of the 50 fastest-growing trade shows in the United States and Canada, according to Trade Show Week magazine. GATS organizers say the show’s popularity is due, in part, to keeping owner-operators’ needs up front.

“In this economic environment, we’re still going to bring a very worthwhile event for people to attend,” show director Alan Sims says. “People are looking for answers.”

One good place to find them is at the TruckSmart Summit, a series of educational seminars focusing on new technology. In the Summit’s GATS Engine SuperSessions, at 10 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 20, experts from leading engine makers will discuss their technologies, provide details on how they meet new emissions standards and discuss results from field tests. They will explain how the new technology impacts truck operation, including on-board diagnostics, driver alerts and maintenance issues such as those affecting diesel particulate filter performance.

After the sessions, show visitors can test-drive and compare the new engines or consult one-on-one with the experts. The Texas Motor Transportation Association will sponsor other educational seminars that will address issues ranging from preparing for a safety audit to maintaining fiscal health.

Other business-related offerings include exhibits of more than 400 companies showcasing products and services, and the free Partners in Business workshop from 2-4 p.m., Friday, Aug. 21, for prospective and existing owner-operators.

The Partners in Business program is produced by Overdrive and the consultants at ATBS, the nation’s largest owner-operator business services firm, and sponsored by the load-matching service TruckersEdge, powered by TransCore DAT. Job hunters can visit the nearly 100 companies in the recruitment pavilion, Sims says. Truck safety inspections will be provided by Ol’ Blue USA’s Safety Center.

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Lawrence will perform at the Mobil Delvac-sponsored concert 6:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 21. Lawrence arrived on the country music scene in 1991 with his platinum album Sticks and Stones. His second album, Alibis, in 1993 went double platinum. Lawrence has recorded 13 albums since, including his latest, The Rock. Show visitors can pick up free concert tickets at Mobil Delvac booth #17159 and in the Dallas Convention Center lobby on the day of the concert.

Trucks entered in Pride & Polish will be shining on the show floor all weekend. “Truck hobbyists and customizing professionals will go head to head for bragging rights for the hottest rig around,” says Dave Schave, GATS operations manager. Contestants can register their trucks at Winners will be announced at 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 22.

To celebrate its 40th anniversary, The Midnight Trucking Radio Network will sponsor a $1,000 giveaway and a chance for one CDL holder to play the “Diesel or no Diesel” game to win $450,000. Attendees can enter in both drawings at the lobby booth Friday afternoon. Radio hosts Eric Harley and Gary McNamara will broadcast live during the weekend.

Sims describes this year’s Great American Trucking Show as all-encompassing because, he says, it “will help owner-operators become more efficient, become familiar with the new trends and find jobs,” not to mention have a good time.

Registration is free at or $10 at the door. On the website, click on the Hotel Information tab to learn how to get reduced airfare, car rentals and weekend hotel stays. Twenty acres of free on-site parking with a refreshment tent will also be provided.

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