‘Awesome. Unbelievable.’
OOIDA Member Bill Rethwisch clinches Shell Rotella SuperRigs for back-to-back wins in the ‘super bowl’ of show truck competitions

By Jami Jones, managing editor

In its 32 years, Shell Rotella SuperRigs has recognized many top-shelf working trucks on the road with Best of Show honors. Winning one SuperRigs is an accomplishment all of its own. But winning back-to-back SuperRigs the way OOIDA Member Bill Rethwisch did is rare.

He describes it as “Awesome. Unbelievable.”

The last time back-to-back awards were handed out was in 2005 and 2006. Tom Turner and Kim Turner picked up wins with their “El Dorado” teakwood and cream 1995 Peterbilt 379. And other winners have won multiple awards over the years, like OOIDA Member Todd Roccapriore and Vladimir Bilik.

Rethwisch accomplished the feat with two different trucks. In 2013, he won with an orange and white 2012 Peterbilt 389 and 2008 Polar Quest trailer. This year, he won SuperRigs Best of Show honors with his 2013 green and white Peterbilt 389, pulling a 2013 Polar gas tanker.

The green and white 2013 Pete made an appearance at SuperRigs last year in Tomah, Wis. Over the winter, Rethwisch – along with his dad, his driver Jeff Schultz and Jeff’s father, Chuck – went to work on getting the truck and trailer ready for the 32nd annual SuperRigs.

“It’s really awesome because all winter long we were trying to get that thing to where it needed to be. Then to come out and get the recognition is really cool,” Rethwisch said.

What may surprise many is that Rethwisch would have been OK with not winning a darn thing – and for an unexpected reason. Building the truck also built a deeper relationship between Rethwisch and his father, Bill Rethwisch Sr.

“My dad had such a hand in this deal. He played a huge role,” Rethwisch said.

He said his father worked hard his whole life so he could one day retire and enjoy life.

“He came out when we started this truck and he was going to help a little here, a little there,” Rethwisch said. “Next thing you know he was out there at 7 a.m., seven days a week, working on the truck until late at night and back at it again.”

All of the work, with the exception of the paint job, was handled by Rethwisch and his volunteer team.

Through all that time spent together – wrenching on the truck, designing the details, sanding, shaping metal – a father and son bond grew.

“The relationship we built through this truck is so much more now than it was last fall. Even if the truck wouldn’t have done anything, I would have cherished that,” Rethwisch said.

Relatively new to the show truck competition scene, Rethwisch won his first big award at SuperRigs in 2013 and hasn’t looked back. He’s picked up best of show honors at the Great American Trucking Show, the Mid-America Trucking Show and Wildwood to name a few.

One can’t help but wonder what he has planned next. And he wonders, too.

He plans to return to his first show truck, one that has only been shown at smaller Midwest trucking shows – a 1986 Freightliner cabover.

His love of cabovers stems from his childhood. Where he grew up, there were two occupations: trucking or working in construction and probably driving truck anyway.

“I remember riding out to the coast as a kid in these cabovers and loved it,” Rethwisch said.

He bought the Freightliner cabover in 2002. The main reason he bought it was to build a show truck because the company he was driving for wouldn’t let him do much on the company truck or even show it.

He spent the next year rebuilding the truck as a hobby. He stretched it, painted it with the help of friends and family and took it around the Midwest.

After spending a couple of years watching the top-notch competitors in the limited mileage categories at shows, Rethwisch has set his sights on competing in the limited mileage class.

He plans on bringing the cabover back and going “crazy” with it in hopes of building it into a contender.

“But it’s nowhere near that now,” he added with a laugh.

First Runner-Up at SuperRigs went to Austin Ashley and his purple and white 2007 Peterbilt 379. Second Runner-Up honors went to OOIDA Senior Member Paul Rissler and his 1996 Peterbilt 379 and 2008 Great Dane reefer trailer. LL