Gearing up at GATS Pride Polish

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a href=””img style=”MARGIN: 0px 0px 10px 10px; WIDTH: 320px; FLOAT: right; HEIGHT: 240px; CURSOR: hand” id=”BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5372041005776312434″ border=”0″ alt=”” src=”” //aLongtime friends and owner-operators Gary Collins and Jerry Jones, both of El Dorado Springs, Mo., sauntered by a bright orange, tan and chocolate custom rig (pictured) Wednesday afternoon and nodded approval as they noticed the shiny “Texas Chrome Shop” plate on the truck’s front bumper as a href=””Great American Trucking Show/a exhibitors set up for the three-day show at the Dallas Convention /br /The two toured ema href=””Overdrive/a/em’s Pride amp; Polish arena as contestants polished already gleaming fenders with large soft cloths and others pulled their rigs into the Convention Center from under the bright blue sky and out of 90-plus temps downtown. Collins, who was featured in emOverdrive/em in the early 1990s by former magazine writer Charles Cox, says that he and Jones have visited the show for several decades. Collins, who refers to his rig as the Boss Pulling Truck, has been an owner-operator for 32 years while Jones has been an independent for more than 40 years. The two grew up in the same neighborhood, attended a country grade school together and are still taking in the sights for what they say is a show they wouldn’t /br /Behind the visitors, Raul Mendez Jr., owner of the Texas Chrome Shop and Triple R Diesel in Atascosa, Texas, made plans for getting not only the orange rig next to him ready for the Pride amp; Polish competition but rushed to the far side of the arena as his two other entries, a black W900a href=””img style=”MARGIN: 0px 0px 10px 10px; WIDTH: 320px; FLOAT: right; HEIGHT: 240px; CURSOR: hand” id=”BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5372041469238376114″ border=”0″ alt=”” src=”” //a Kenworth with interior black alligator and ostrich leather upholstery and a blue-and-white end dump (pictured), pulled into the Convention Center and /br /This year’s more than 45 entries for Pride amp; Polish are remarkable, says ema href=””Custom Rigs/a/em Editor Bruce Smith. “From what I saw at move-in today, a couple of the new creations definitely set a new standard for full-on custom rigs. Two customizers in particular — the Texas Chrome Shop and Chrome Shop Mafia — have trucks truly in a class by themselves.”br /br /Check back for updates and photos on Friday’s judging and Saturday’s award presentation — and other GATS activities. em–Lucinda Coulter/em em(photos by Bruce Smith)/embr /div/divbr /divemshare:/embr /a onclick=”‘;url=’+encodeURIComponent(location.href)+’amp;title=’+encodeURIComponent(document.title), ‘digg’); return false;” href=””Digg/abr /a onclick=”‘’+encodeURIComponent(location.href)+’amp;title=’+encodeURIComponent(document.title),’facebook’); return false;” href=””facebook/a/divdiv class=”blogger-post-footer”Channel 19 is the blog version of the column of the same name featured in Overdrive: The Voice of the American Trucker. Todd Dills ([email protected]) is its author./div