2004 Truck Of The Year - Getting Testy - And Finally...
As you've probably discovered by now, this issue of Truckin' contains our Truck of the Year testing and winner announcement. Each year, Truckin' magazine picks its Truck of the Year, and this year we were very enthusiastic about our choice for the winner. The process behind picking the best new truck for the '04 model year goes well beyond simply pulling a name out of a hat. Since Truckin' focuses on trucks, and only trucks, we feel we are more than qualified to pick the cream of the crop. Numerous other magazines publish a Truck of the Year, but many of these publications also focus on cars, and trucks are usually not the editors' vehicles of choice. At Truckin', every editor is a true truck guy, and we wouldn't have it any other way.
With that said, I would like to personally thank all of the Truckin' staff for the hard and professional work that went into making Truck of the Year a worthwhile and very legitimate look at the crop of new trucks for the '04 model year. Each Truckin' editor takes this task very seriously and always keeps the Truckin' reader foremost in mind during the entire process. I have been organizing this Truck of the Year competition for the past three years, and I must say that my fellow group of Truckin' editors is the most solid bunch of truck testers I've had the pleasure of working with. These include Truckin' Editor Steve Warner, Technical Editor Bob Ryder, Feature Editor Travis Noack, and Associate Editors Sean Holman and Dan Ward. Not only did these guys make the experience an enjoyable process, but they made my job much easier by taking the task to heart and acting professional every step of the way. Thanks guys.
This professionalism really came through during our performance testing. To give the readers a peek behind the scenes of our Truck of the Year testing, the performance evaluation for our group of test vehicles was carried out at Camarillo (California) Airport, where we rented out an unused portion of the landing strip. At Camarillo, each truck did several passes down the track as we recorded quarter-mile trap speeds, 0-60 times, and 60-0 braking ability. At the same time, we photographed the trucks during testing to record our efforts on film. It takes an organized group of individuals to drive, evaluate, record performance times, photograph, keep the vehicles clean, and shift attention from one vehicle to the next in an orderly process. Plus, add in the fact that the Camarillo Airport is about 100 miles from our home office. Our team performed flawlessly, getting the job done during a very quick day of testing.
A couple of things come to mind that really show the dedication of the staff. During our day at Camarillo Airport, did we stop our testing process to go out for a nice, well-deserved lunch, paid for by a fat Truckin' budget (which is thinner than most readers think)? Lunch time (at 3 p.m.) found us wolfing down In-N-Out burgers and fries on the tailgates of the Tundra and Titan. Then, it was immediately back to work as we finished up our brake-testing phase of the performance evaluation. The end of the day found us organizing the vehicles for group photography and clicking off those last frames of the overall shot that appears on pages 146 and 147 of this issue. Then, at 6 p.m., we were tired and ready to go home. However, someone came up with the idea, "There's still some light; let's get some truck to truck driving shots." Rather than pack it up, we hopped back into the vehicles, with Steve Warner and Bob Ryder in the pickup bed snapping off photos, acquiring some of the best photos I have seen in this or previous year's Truck of the Year coverage. When we finally got home at 9 p.m., I think that each of us felt good about the day and satisfied that we had given it our best effort.What does all this boil down to? The fact is, when Truckin' picks a winning vehicle for Truck of the Year, it's definitely not to be taken lightly.