The A.J. Soza Memorial Truck Show's second edition got under way today, Friday, June 24, at the fairgrounds in Merced, California. The Central Valley location stood in high relief at the early point in the day shown above, when these hay-hauling doubles rolled in with a livestock hauler between them.
Principal show founder C.G. Soza, owner of the small car-haul fleet that bears his name and shown directing the operator to a spot in the rows of rigs lining up to show through Sunday this weekend, recalled his childhood growing up in the region. "That certain smell about the Central Valley in the morning here in California, it always brings me back to my childhood days," he said, growing up surrounded by agriculture. "It's sort of a hay smell," much like the one we were basking in by Soza's own 2016 Kenworth W9 on the lot as the rigs crept by this morning.
It's hard to take a picture of a smell, no doubt, but there's plenty more I can give you today based on just several hours at the show so far. I'm here through Saturday. (There will be a lot more to come in the following weeks, no doubt, so stay tuned.)
Owner-operator Erik Vaillette, based north of of the area in Redding and leased to small fleet owner Steve Wilbur's Commodity Transport small fleet pulling a flatbed, was among the first I caught a glimpse of on the way in, staged outside the main lot for detail work.
If you make it out to the show, look for me and say hi. Otherwise, here's hoping it's a great weekend, whether at home or on the road.
Oh, a-and one more thing.
Despite all that the state of California has thrown at trucking over the years, the truck-show scene is strong. Vaillette recently wrapped up his Frenchy's Truck Jamboree with collaborators in Red Bluff -- with nearly 300 entries -- late last month. And the Rodriguez family is likewise promoting the show on the flyer in the picture below, put on by the car club they're members of. This year, for the first time, it will feature custom Class 8s as well.
In 2019, the last time the event was held -- COVID intervened -- there were 700 cars that participated. You can bet three years on participation will be high, kicking off late next month.