ALBERT LEA, Minn. – Having a yellow truck has its advantages when showing at the Shell Rotella SuperRigs event.
Ontario owner-operator Mike Wilkinson said his yellow 2020 Kenworth, only one of three yellow trucks showing at this year’s event, has a good chance of being selected for the SuperRigs annual calendar.
“I wanted to do the Shell show, and with Shell being a yellow color, they have to put one yellow truck in the calendar every year,” said Wilkinson.
For Wilkinson, though, coming down to a show like SuperRigs is less about the competition and more about hooking up with old friends and meeting new people along the way.
“I love going to the U.S. show circuit because I’ve met so many awesome people,” said Wilkinson. “It’s the comradery of meeting new friends and hanging out with old friends.”
It was these friends who encouraged Wilkinson to come to SuperRigs at Trail’s Travel Center and attend other shows when he could.
“I met some American friends who travel the circuit, and I found out they were doing a few shows,” he said. “(My truck’s) new so it’s hard to compete…there’s no miles on it, but I have my subtle little things I’m trying to do to it to make it different.”
Wilkinson has been hitting the show circuit for a while now, mostly with his previous truck, a 2005 379 Peterbilt, also yellow in color.
But faced with the reality of having to spend around $100,000 on an engine rebuild and paint job, Wilkinson took the plunge and bought a new truck.
Though he says it doesn’t have the same power as his Pete, the vastly improved driver comforts make it perfect for the 25-year driving veteran.
“I’m not getting any younger, so this has all the amenities,” said Wilkinson. “A lot of little things…creature comforts for me are a big thing now.”
He even has a cheeky name for his new rig – Miss Beehaving.
“Originally it was supposed to be Miss Beehaved,” said Wilkinson. “But I said to my wife I can’t name it that because I don’t want you to think I’ve stopped misbehaving.”
Since purchasing the truck, Wilkinson has tallied only 49,000 km, which proved a challenge when being judged at SuperRigs.
“I can compete in the working truck (category) but the problem is I have to get the miles on my truck first to be able to say it’s a working truck,” he said.
At SuperRigs, trucks are put into two main categories – working or show trucks. After reading a submission from Wilkinson explaining his low mileage, judges ultimately placed him in the limited-mileage working truck category, which puts him up against some stiff competition at the show.
Attention to detail is vital in a truck competition, and Wilkinson does not lack effort in this area.
For example, he has learned from other competitors about a practice called clocking your tires, where your valve stems are placed at the bottom of the tire and name of the tire at the top.
“It’s the little things,” he said. “I don’t compete on the show circuit like others do, but I’ve learned from them that that’s what they do.”
Some upgrades Wilkinson has had done to his truck in the short time he has had it include adding a custom made visor, a new bumper, a custom built headache rack (where Miss Beehaving is lasered), a new deck plate, bracket work for his fenders, and a T-light bar in the rear made to his liking.
All of this comes at a cost, particularly for a driver who just purchased a new truck that comes with new payments.
“It takes time and money,” admitted Wilkinson. “And I’m a single truck driver with a family I’m trying to take care of and help. The wheels have to keep turning. And I think the office might be getting a little frustrated that I like a little of that time off. They know that’s my thing and I only do a few shows.”
At the age of 44, Wilkinson is a proud grandfather, though he looks nothing like someone who would hold such a title.
He is leased to haul for Floyd Gibbons Trucking out of Wallenstein, Ont., and has been with the company for around four years.
Next up for Wilkinson is a show in Wisconsin early August, where he hopes to show Miss Beehaving for the final time this season before getting his nose back to the grindstone. The show is close to his polisher, who is based in the state, and also encouraged him to attend SuperRigs.
“This is probably one of the best shows I’ve ever been to,” said Wilkinson. “I’d love to see a show like this come to Canada. If Shell Rotella with SuperRigs would come to Ontario it would be awesome.”
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