MATS Preview 2011
A magical trucking kingdom

By Kerry Evans-Spillman, Land Line staff

It seems like a lot of truckers refer to the Mid-America Trucking Show as “Mecca.” To me, it sounds more like Disney World.

If the Kentucky Exposition Center is the Magic Kingdom then Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium parking lot is Pleasure Island, except better.

OOIDA’s tour truck, “The Spirit of the American Trucker,” will be a familiar sight at Papa John’s. Look for it behind the stage.

For the eighth year, OOIDA Life Members Rusty Wade and Don “Burnt Beans” McKinley will be serving up delicious (free) food for folks in the parking lot. Everyone is invited to come by and have a plate.

A couple of race cars will be on display. One is owned by Bob “Snakebite” Heans, an OOIDA member from Fergus, Ontario. The other belongs to Gary Collins, a trucker from Florida. Some familiar names in trucking will be featured on both vehicles.

Friday night’s festivities will include a costume contest which will surely provide a colorful backdrop for a wedding. OOIDA Life Member Larry Strange and his fiancée Endora “Shorty” Bray are tying the knot. We hear Bubba Bo is giving away the bride. And yes, there will be cake.

Save some energy for Saturday morning and bring your work-out shoes to the Expo Center for the MATS Driver Health Awareness Walk. This is the second year for the fitness event and there is no cost for participation, but registration is required. Walkers are meeting in the West Hall at 8 a.m. to warm up for the 1.5 mile trek. Register online at roadsidemed.com or healthytruck.org. Walkers can register at the show by visiting booth 67028.

Also on Saturday the Women In Trucking Association is hosting another Salute to Women Behind the Wheel. Female truckers are invited to join WIT at 1 p.m. in rooms C201-C205 for refreshments, music, prizes and a group photo.

Some of the industry’s best will be recognized at the 2011 MATS. Look for Goodyear to honor their Highway Hero during the show. Arrow Truck Sales, with the help of country music star and OOIDA Life Member Aaron Tippin, will announce the winner of their “Back on the Road” campaign.

Show trucks galore will be on site competing in the Paul K. Young Memorial Truck Beauty Championship. Bring sunglasses and lots of SPF to protect yourself from the glossy glare of the shiny paint and chrome.

Just so your ears don’t get jealous of the fun your eyes will be having, there will be a complimentary concert on Friday night. The Mobil Delvac concert will feature Country artists Randy Houser and Keith Anderson. Tickets are distributed by sponsoring exhibitors at their booth on Thursday and Friday morning, available on a first come, first served basis. There will be a stage featuring live music at Papa John’s throughout the show as well.

Look for the St. Christopher Fund’s Medical Resources Vehicle at MATS. On the MeRV, you can get health information and various tests for things like blood pressure and diabetes.

OOIDA will be on the scene with staff available to sign up or renew members and discuss hot industry topics. If you join or renew at MATS, you’ll receive a $20 discount. Land Line and Land Line Now will be giving you the inside scoop from the “Pork Chop Diaries.” You can find us at booths 11128 in the North Wing, 40460 in the North Wing Lobby with Land Line Now, and 65229 in the West Wing. Don’t forget to visit the First Observer booth, 65125 in the West Wing.

Ron Mermis and the OOIDA NASCAR simulator will be on hand. His location had not been determined as of press time.

As always, the show will be packed with exhibitors showing off the latest in trucking products and services. There will also be several informational seminars available free of charge.

For more information about MATS, visit truckingshow.com. LL