Truck-Lite crowns NAST’s 2003 trophy winners

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FALCONER, N.Y. — Originality and creativity were the secrets to success during the 2003 Truck-Lite Trophy series, the 2003 NAST (National Association of Show Trucks) national championship.

First place went to Bob and Shelly Brinker, Grayling, MI. Gary Patterson, Fredonia, PA came in second, followed by Danny Mizer, Elyria, OH.

The Truck-Lite Trophy has become the symbol of excellence in show truck competition. It is awarded to the national champion of each year’s NAST competitions, based on total points earned over the show season. The original Truck-Lite Trophy, a walnut and etched crystal original design, is kept at Truck-Lite headquarters in Falconer, N.Y. Each year’s winners have their names added to the Trophy. In addition, they receive a reproduction of the Trophy. The first place winner gets a picture of his tractor engraved on the center of three crystal panels. Second and third place winners receive smaller trophy reproductions.

Truck-Lite also awards cash prizes to the three winners. Presentation of the Truck-Lite Trophy for the 2003 season will take place at the NAST annual meeting, held during the Mid-America Trucking Show, March 26, 2004.

The Brinkers’ originality shows as the exterior of their 2000 Freightliner Classic XL is painted like a dragon, while the cab and sleeper are tiled and decorated like a dungeon. The entire exterior was airbrushed, including the sun visor (the dragon’s eyes) and frame rails, painted to look like scales. The tractor became a dragon’s head. At shows, both Bob and Shelley dress as a wizard and witch, carrying out the truck’s Dungeons and Dragons theme. The truck is named "Dragon On."

Bob has been driving since 1981. Shelly, a full time sergeant in the Michigan Army National Guard, also holds a CDL and its military equivalent. She is responsible for logistics at Camp Grayling. Shelley was a co-driver for ten years.

Gary Patterson also dared to be different, showing his beautifully detailed 1982 maroon International conventional. He had been showing bobtail, but went to combination class when he bought his 2002 Great Dane trailer. He could compete in the Historical class, but chose to show the 21 year old truck as a regular combination.

Gary got his tractor "in junkyard condition," as he puts it in 1992. There wasn’t much you could buy for the truck, so he, his wife Janet and sons Chad and Shean made nearly all the accessories, from the hardwood door panels to the stainless steel dash to the ceramic tile cab floor.

"We come up with ideas," Gary said of his family’s involvement, "then the boys and I put them on the truck. It’s our vacation time, traveling around the country (to NAST shows), seeing things we otherwise wouldn’t."

Danny Mizer started showing the third place winning 1997 Peterbilt 379 four years ago, and won his first trophy, a second place one year later in Wheeling, WV. The truck belongs to Brandau Transportation, but they encourage Danny to customize it as he sees fit. Danny has no crew to help him prepare the truck. He does all the cleaning, polishing and detailing himself. By the start of the 2003 competition season, the Peterbilt had 152 Truck-Lite LEDs, including accent lighting under the truck.

"We are happy to see such creativity brought to show truck competition, and to have Truck-Lite associated with winners such as these," said Bob Ives, Truck-Lite vice-president of marketing. "These winners, and all those who competed in the 2003 season, are a credit to the trucking industry."

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