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Working trucks get their due at Working Chrome truck show

WINNIPEG, Man. – I’ve visited all the major truck shows in the past couple of years. I enjoy spending time visiting the trade shows and seeing all the new products on display, but each and every time, my first port of call is the...


WINNIPEG, Man. – I’ve visited all the major truck shows in the past couple of years. I enjoy spending time visiting the trade shows and seeing all the new products on display, but each and every time, my first port of call is the show truck section.

As a member of the press, with a flash of my credentials, I can get photographs before the arena is officially opened and engulfed with visitors. I also get to visit with the drivers who bring their trucks to the show. This is a good thing, as once the doors open to the public, I would have no chance.

For me, this is one of the perks of my job as member of the team here, but truck shows are not just for the members of the press – they’re for the drivers and fans of trucking, so why shouldn’t they enjoy the same benefits? Largely that is because of numbers, but mostly because of the size of the events themselves. Manufacturers and other exhibitors spend a small fortune on their displays, so they want maximum bang for their buck. Every show I’ve been to tells me that they achieve that, but in many cases, the whole reason behind the truck show itself has been lost along the way.

This is not so at the last one I attended; not only was it a grassroots, back to basics truck show, it was also right in my backyard in Winnipeg. The people behind the show are Russell Dovzuk and James Lee (no relation) of the House of Chrome, which is on the south side of the Trans-Canada Highway, just to the east of the DoT scale at Headingley. The show has been going for a few years now, but had outgrown its original location behind the Chrome Shop and had moved to the show grounds just along Portage Ave., almost opposite the Flying J.

The show itself is called Working Chrome and it does exactly what it says on the tin. There are working trucks on show, not Trailer Queens built with no expense spared. Some of the trucks were under a load and some had taken the weekend off and travelled to the show. They were not just local trucks either. One of the truck show must-have’s, a flat top 379 Peterbilt had come up from Iowa and another was Whiteline Trucking’s Western Star from Dunchurch, Ont. They came just to hang out and be a part of it.

The local truck dealers had a presence, but they had only parked a few of their trucks in amongst the working trucks. Representatives were on-hand to talk about the models on display, but that was more conversational than a sales pitch, so even that fit  in with the theme of the show.

The big local carriers were all represented too, mostly with trucks on show – both owner/operator and company trucks – but the reefer division of Yanke, Cool Blue Express had two tractor-trailers on display and had a recruitment drive. Director Gerry Scott said it had been a successful exercise; they had also enjoyed the relaxed nature of the show.

The show grounds had ample parking for tractor-trailers and the Flying J and Husky truck stops are only a short walk away, so if the parking lots were full, truck drivers could still get in and spend a bit of time visiting with the trucks on show.

Quite a few did, too, as attendance was much higher than I would have thought. Over the three days, Aug. 3-5, more than 11,500 people walked through the gates, which is a fantastic achievement considering there were none of the usual goodies on offer, just a bunch of trucks lined up and looking their best.

To keep the show a friendly event, the organizers decided against a competition between the trucks. There were no losers, but they were all winners in their own right. The atmosphere was very relaxed. Most of the drivers were sitting on lawn chairs next to the trucks they drove through the gates. Most had been driving them all week, before cleaning them up for the show.

Everyone I spoke to had plenty of time to chat and I never revealed that I would be writing about them in this magazine. Even though I knew I would be writing this piece, I had my truck driver’s hat on that day.

The trucks on display ranged from the wonderful 1961 Kenworth K100 cabover of the Polet Family to the new trucks on display from the local truck dealers. There were some very interesting trucks on show, some like the brand new flat top Pete 389s combined the traditional look with modern mechanicals, others like the 389 glider kit of Mark Brandt still had the old-school motor under the hood. Another interesting glider kit was the Freightliner Coronado of Flying Eagle Transport. This was an off-the-shelf kit, purchased from and built by Fitzgerald Glider Kits in Tennessee. It has a pre-emission Series 60 Detroit engine. In addition to looking good, it also impressed both its driver, Bryn Lewis and company owner, Clarence Falk with its performance and economy.

Flying Eagle Transport also had a 379 Peterbilt at the show, but this one was as far from a flat top as you can get: a huge Double Eagle Sleeper sits on top of the 330-inch wheelbase. Custodian of this beast was Elmer Hanson and he was busy all weekend giving tours around its massive interior. However, this was not the biggest truck in the lot. That honour went to Brian Dax and his Big Red Giant (see cover photo), claimed to be the longest tractor unit in the world. The owner is waiting for the people at The Guinness Book of World Records to confirm that claim and put the Big Red Giant in its rightful position in the famous book.

Russell and James of The House of Chrome are promising more of the same next year. The first weekend in August, Winnipeg is the place to be.


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