Like many people involved in the trucking industry. September 1 rolls around and we are moaning, groaning, and moving around like we have aged 30 years over night.  One may think we had spent too much time enjoying Labor Day Weekend.  No, we are still in recovery mode from the Great American Truck Show held each year in Dallas TX at the end of August.  For me, this is one of my personal favorite shows and the one I call home.  It is smaller and a bit slower paced than the Mid-America Truck Show. It allows you more time to visit with old friends, make new friends, and get a chance to talk with vendors and build relationships with them.

A trucker in the Making GATS 2017

As special as GATS always is to me this year marked several major events, that were really important to me personally, as well as to several of my friends.  First up is the incomparable Wendy Parker with her second book This May Be A Filthy Lie that was released during the show this year. This is a follow up to her New York Times Best Seller. 100,000 Miles Of Crazy: Adventures   Road With George and Wendy. (Ok, that is probably a filthy lie but it is number 1 on my best seller list!!!) Carolyn O’Byrne with the release of her Audio Book version of Gut Health.

The screening of the documentary Be Prepared to Stop which brought to light the issues we face as a country not just as an industry with our crumbling infrastructure system. I also had the opportunity to do a short (45 minute) interview with Jennifer Clymer and MJ Miller who produced and directed the film. More to come on this in the coming months…

Moving on to the music side of things. We did have one sad thing that occurred this year. Paul Marhoeffer a truly talented singer song writer who was to attend and perform for drivers in the parking lot this year. Was unable to attend due to some health issues that arose from an exhaust gas leak in his truck that happened to him earlier this year. Paul, you were truly missed!!! You can find out more about him on his website.

Talented Australian Artist Jayne Denham made a return engagement to GATS performing at the Red EYE Radio Stage, GATS Truck Parking, the Tough Tested Booth, and at the Big Concert Friday night sponsored by UBER Freight and OverDrive Magazine. Jayne’s website.

Bill Weaver was also busy with the Red Eye Stage, Tough Tested, GATS Parking Lot, and the Big Concert on Friday night. Bill Weaver’s website.

Tony Justice wowed the crowds at Red EYE Radio Stage, and various other small concerts throughout the show, and was the headliner for this years Friday Night Concert.  Tony and his wife Misty deserve a tremendous shout out.  They overcame a tremendous amount of adversity to pull of the concert this year on Friday night.  Ranging from technical problems with the venue the concert was being held at. To issues with the band bus constantly breaking down, and the band arriving about the time the show was scheduled to originally end.  They persevered like true professionals and put on one heck of a show. We often joke about how truckers persevere and deliver no matter what.  Tony and the rest of the performers went above and beyond to make sure everyone had a great time and the best concert possible.  Tony his band, and everyone else involved did just that.  Tony’s Website.

Several of the larger vendors who traditionally make appearances at GATS decided to go to the inaugural North American Commercial Vehicle Show to be held in Atlanta, in September of this year.  (They missed out on one heck of a show in Dallas this year.) This allowed several companies to increase their presence this year at GATS, as well as many new vendors to make an appearance.

Minimizer Booth at GATS

Minimzer was there and their booth was a hot spot of activity with their line of replacements seats once again having drivers and fleets take notice of their value and capabilities. They also debuted a new entry into their product line this year with their long haul mattress series. Its premium design is focused on helping drivers get a better nights sleep to reduce their fatigue while driving the next day.  This mattress is unique to the trucking market as it is 10 inches thick, made from natural latex, and is reversible. When you buy this mattress it comes included with a firm and a soft side. Allowing the driver to decide which side allows them the best nights sleep.

Whether intentional or not there was a large number of companies promoting driver sleep.  Whether sleep apnea companies showing some of the latest technologies to help drivers find the system that is right for them. Mattress companies displaying their solutions to improving driver sleep quality with a quality mattress. As well as mattress pad companies showing how a high-quality mattress pad can improve drivers sleep by keeping them cooler so they rest better.  Over the next several months I will be covering some of the innovations and new products that may help drivers get a better quality of rest.

A Titan with a Datsun on its back

Nissan made their first appearance at GATS with showcasing their truck lineup. They felt now was a good time with their Titan and XD series to showcase their versatility for both personal and work applications.  To help show how far they have come with their trucks. They had a Datsun in the back of their Titan XD.  Let’s just say they have made a few changes over the years…

Road Pro Booth at GATS 2017

Road Pro Family of Brands was there promoting their new driver rewards program/club. The RoadPro Rewards program will reward drivers for not only purchasing products from Road Pro and their related brands.  It will also reward and encourage them for participating and becoming involved in various aspects of the trucking industry and community as well.  This can be done by reading articles and watching videos on their web site. As well as participating in various other programs for drivers. A great example of this is their partnership with the St. Christophers Fund and their Rigs with out Cigs program.  This is a tobacco cessation program for all forms of tobacco, and or nicotine.

Cassie Gannis Meet and Greet at the Tough Tested Booth

Other items of note Tough Tested really stepped up to the plate this year for Dallas. Tough Tested had a line of new products to showcase this year, ranging from improved battery packs, USB-C cables, jump start packs for cars, and more. They also expanded their booth from previous years,  had me (Capt’n Kyrk) give tech talks on a variety of issues, brought entertainment for drivers, as well as NASCAR’s Cassie Gannis to meet with attendees and NASCAR Fans. (You can learn more about Cassie on her website.)

Tough Tested sponsored the MATS2GATS health challenge, where over 90 drivers lost 1075 lbs in about 3 months.  The goal was to lose a ton of weight between the 2 events. While we fell short of this 1-ton goal, we were able to make new friends, share ideas, and gain encouragement from each other. They also helped to sponsor the Health Stage on behalf of MATS2GATS and hosted the 1st cars vs trucks roundtable.  This was moderated by Wendy Parker, with Tough Tested Ambassadors and Professional Truck Drivers, Tom Capt’n Kyrk, Bill Weaver, George Parker, and NASCAR’s Cassie Gannis. This was a great time of answering questions from our moderator and from the audience about how cars and trucks can interact with each other safely. Our views on things such as distracted driving and the future of technology and trucking.

Tough Tested also has been a huge help to me this year.  They have helped me to refresh and relaunch my web site, as well as to encourage me to get back to my roots of driver health and technology.  Lastly, they helped to put together a small cooking pamphlet that was given out at their booth and during the cooking demo’s that I led that was done on the health stage.   I truly appreciate all that they do for the trucking community, in their support for trucking charities, or helping out drivers like myself and Bill Weaver with our goals and dreams.  They also make some really great products and are always willing to listen to driver feedback to make improvements on them.

Last but not least was the trucks.  Whether new showcase trucks like the Cascadia, customized trucks like Copperhead Road, or blasts from the past like the trucks from Moving On and,  BJ and the Bear.  There was something for everyone to be seen at this year’s show.

In short, this year’s Great American Truck Show was one of their best shows ever and was one of my all time favorites. GATS had a new look and many people stepped up to the plate to improve and enhance the show this year.  There are too many to mention and if I forgot to mention you know your efforts were appreciated!!! I am already looking forwards to next years show, and seeing all my old friends and making new ones. If you have not put it on your calendar you should really put it there it is August 23-25, 2018.






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