It's a sort of maxim I've held in my mind for years doing the work of journalism as it relates to events. Show up early and get the lay of the land, and you might well find something you don't expect to. Yesterday, as owner-ops and drivers set up and shined up on the grounds of the Iowa 80 Truck Stop in Walcott, Iowa, for the Super Truck Beauty Contest, the opposite applies, too.
I hung around long enough to be surprised. I wasn't the only one.
Rain had been spitting on owner-operator Aaron Walters' efforts to keep it and other elements off of his 2019 Peterbilt 389, pictured above, for the time I spent out on the competition lot during set-up yesterday. With a minor shower dissipating near sundown, he was so focused on the power unit, in fact, that he didn't see the big-sky rainbow appear to the east of the lot until I showed the picture of it I got above his truck.
The Walcott show is notable not only for its Super Truck contest, of course. Fleets take the opportunity to show off their own equipment and opportunities therein for drivers, and owner-operators looking to lease on.
Setting up yesterday, I ran into Kim Burrows of Des Moines, Iowa, who today spends most of her time with a dog-grooming business. But she's not so far removed from years doing polish work for trucking companies and owner-operators in Barstow, California, mostly at the TravelCenters of America location there, that she's forgotten how it's done.
Near the front of the lot I found a second-career professional in Mark Stratton, climbing down from the 2021 Volvo VNL860 he drives for Stan Koch & Sons, hooked to a unique load on an equally-unique trailer.
Kenny Benham, leased to Mercer for a couple decades now, was among attendees. Stars aligned for him this year, turning bad luck into good after he loaded Tuesday and dropped in Iowa Wednesday. When his agent had nothing of note headed back immediately he made the decision to stay awhile with his own 2005 Peterbilt 379 parking in the general truck parking lot.
If you get similarly lucky with your loads, look for the guy with the camera and the gray cap. Hope to see you there.