Showing Your Truck At Truck Shows - Show And Tell

If You've Never Shown Your Truck, But Want To, Then Read This

John O'NeillMay 1, 2005
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For many of you, taking your truck to a show is pretty common between April and September. Staying up late the night before the show to polish the wheels and grille and detail your truck has become such second nature, that most could do it in their sleep - in fact, a few probably have. Then after a long night of last-minute repairs and dirty rags, you get in your truck and grip the steering wheel with fingers, aching from polishing billet for hours on end just to drive hundreds of miles to the showgrounds. Once you finally reach the show, you're greeted by a line so long that you could swear they were handing out free beer and lottery tickets rather than just registering vehicles. Of course, after waiting in line to be classed, it's off to your spot for more cleaning and, in some cases, to set up a display around the truck.
Others spend the same amount of time detailing their truck and traveling to the shows. Rather than taking their place in the registration line, however, they drive their truck into the spectator's parking lot. There could be several reasons for this - they don't want to show their truck until it's done, something may be broken or damaged, and so on. The list could go on and on, but what we would like to focus on is the guy who doesn't take his truck into the show simply because he's never done it before.
Showing your truck for the first time can be intimidating, kind of like the first time you picked up a Sawzall or welder and were afraid that you weren't going to do it right. After all, many trucks are an extension of our personality and style, so if someone doesn't like what you've done to your truck, it can be taken personally. These are things that almost every builder, from novice to pro, has gone through at some point when they put their truck on display for the first time, so just to let you know, it's nothing new.
Our sport relies on not only the people who have been in it since 4/6 static drops and 15-inch wheels were the benchmark of style, but also on newcomers, to keep things fresh and to bring new ideas in. Without them mixing up the pot, we run the risk of becoming stale and stagnant.
In order to help build the confidence of newcomers and let them know what to expect, we hooked up with several show promoters from coast to coast for some tips that even the veterans may be interested in. After all, nothing is worse than making stupid newbie mistakes, especially if you aren't a newbie.
Promoter: Eddy Cebreco
Show: Blooddrag
Location: Live Oak, Florida
ST: There are several types of judging, such as drive-through judging and traditional judging. Describe how the judging works at Blooddrag.
Eddy: I guess you could say we do traditional judging. The way we do it is with a judging team of three or more. The judging sheets contain four to five categories and of course, each judge has some sort of expertise in the field that they are judging. I won't have guys who own mini-trucks judge cars, and vice-versa. Another thing I like to do, since Xtreme Lowz has club members from coast to coast who work the show, is put guys from different areas together as a judging team so they are impartial. Plus, that way, each style is represented on that team.
ST: How important are displays at your show?
Eddy: At my show, they aren't that important. I find they work better for indoor shows because of the lighting and whatnot. Mirrors get broken and I've got to pick up cotton and mulch afterwards, and I hate that.
ST: Are there any common mistakes that people make their first time showing?
Eddy: There are definitely a few. One common issue is when you come in the gate you fill out an insurance sheet and pay. That only allows your vehicle to be on the property. After the fact, you still need to go and get registered for judging. Make sure you have a registration number, or you aren't going to get judged. After that a lot of people get their truck parked, clean it, lock it up, and then leave. When the show ends, they want to know why they didn't place in their class. What it comes down to is our judges aren't allowed to open any vehicles, so if your doors, hood, and tonneau cover are closed, then you aren't going to get judged on any of those categories.
ST: Those are good judging tips, but what about other common show issues that people always forget?
Eddy: Oh, well definitely don't bother bringing a cooler full of glass beer bottles. I don't think there is any show that will allow you to bring that inside because of the liabilities. First is the alcohol, but then you have glass projectiles on top of that.
Also, if we give you a bracelet for the show, do us a favor and keep it on all weekend. They aren't going to kill you. You won't get paper poisoning, and don't worry, they'll handle some water. Those rules are set for a reason and unless you want to pay to get in again, keep the bracelet on.
ST: Should people wait around their truck so they can answer judges' questions?
Eddy: The best thing to do is to be there just to make sure the truck is open. Like I said, the judges aren't allowed to open your ride, so be there by your truck and open everything. Even if your engine isn't done, but it's clean, that can be a few extra points. If your hood is closed, then that's a zero on your sheet and one point is always better than zero.
When you see the judges come over, they were picked for a reason. You don't need to go over the whole vehicle with them. If you want to make sure they know about every little detail about your truck, then make a battle board that lists everything. They've got a few thousand trucks to judge, so they don't really need to know about your HID blue headlights. If you've done something completely unique, then definitely point that out - and another thing, don't lie. The judges aren't stupid.
ST: Lie? People have actually tried to lie about what's been done to their truck?
Eddy: You wouldn't even believe half the stories if I told you.
ST: Fair enough. So what advice would you give to someone who wants to show their truck, but never has?
Eddy: Honestly, make it as clean and low as possible. Clean it and then just wait for the judges. When they get there, don't jump all over them and don't jump on the magazine guys. Sit back, enjoy the show, and let everyone do their job. Remember, the earlier you're there and cleaned, the faster you'll be finished, and you can go enjoy the rest of the show.
ST: Yes, let us do our job. Haha, thanks for that. Now let's talk about classing for a second. Just so the readers know, what's the difference between the Mild class and Wild class?
Eddy: That can be a hard toss-up, depending on the show, since it changes from coast to coast, but at my show if you have handles, a bumper, and stock paint, you definitely aren't ready for Wild. There has to be some hard-core body mods on your truck for Wild, and that means welding and grinding. Body mods aren't bolt-on. Now this is where it gets tricky, though. Say you buy an '03 Frontier and body-drop it onto a set of 20s. If you still have stock handles, bumper, and paint, then 9 times out of 10, you won't get into Wild. That's not fair for the rest of the Wild guys.
ST: Since we got on the subject of welding and grinding, do you encourage under-construction vehicles at your show?
Eddy: Yes, I do. I have Under Construction, Mild, and Wild classes, with First through Third place trophies in each.
ST: OK, but what do you consider under construction?
Eddy: Under construction is primer covering body mods, meaning a work in progress, such as a guy who just got done shaving his door handles and tailgate the week before, not a mild truck with some billet wheels and a flip-out head unit. We get guys who want to be in the Under Construction class because they just put some wheels and mirrors on their truck. Yes, you're still working on your truck, but unless you've been cutting, welding, and have some primer on your truck, we're going to stick you in the Mild class.
ST: Thanks, Eddy, can't wait to see you at Blooddrag.
Promoter: Dave Macdonald
Show: Heatwave
Location: Austin, Texas
ST: There are several types of judging. Describe the judging at Heatwave.
Dave: We have about 140 classes at Heatwave, with almost 30 judges to judge them all. Our judging covers several components from the interior to the exterior, with an emphasis on cleanliness. For instance, one of the things we judge are wheels, not what brand name you bought or how much you spent, but we want to make sure that each one is equally as clean as the others. The bottom line is that we judge for profession, skill in body mods, and pretty much cleanliness, which is a big part of judging at any show. We've seen people who have spent $100,000 on their truck and not taken the time to clean it, and they've lost to a truck that hasn't spent as much money, but it's 10 times as clean.
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ST: How important are displays at your show?
Dave: Displays aren't as important as they used to be, but they're still a factor in judging. The old school used to have gas, oil, and water cans as well as flares and stuff. Now we're looking more for unity to see if the display goes with the vehicle. If people are going to put up a display, we want things to seem to blend in together with the vehicle.
ST: Should people wait around their truck so they can answer judges' questions?
Dave: I think it's a good idea if they are there when the judges show up. Typically, we don't allow judges to chitchat with participants because of the amount of work they have to do, but if questions about the truck arise, we encourage them to ask. We have 1,600 vehicles at Heatwave, so judges can't spend a whole lot of time.
ST: What about using battle boards?
Dave: Display boards or battle boards are a key tool for judges because they can help streamline the judging process.
ST: Are there any common mistakes that people make their first time out?
Dave: I'd say the first common mistake is they don't open all compartments, such as the engine compartment, or they'll tint their windows too dark and not open their doors. If the window tint is too dark, then the judges can't see in, and our judges aren't allowed to open any doors, so they'll lose points in that category.
Also, people hide things. For example, they'll use cotton or foam to stuff in the wheelwells and under the vehicle, which is a big mistake because it covers the undercarriage. If we can't see it, then it's a zero on the judging sheet.
Another thing is to make sure people come out with the right attitude, like they're just getting started and they're at the show to learn. I encourage people to get their judging sheets after the show so they can see where to improve. People I've talked to have requested their sheets and then the next year they won their class because they fixed the body mods or interior items that they didn't score points on the previous year.
ST: What advice would you give to someone who wants to show his truck, but never has?
Dave: I would say go to a few shows as a spectator first, and then when you're ready to enter a show, call the promoter and ask them about judging criteria. Use their criteria to set the pace for your first show. I think you'll find that most of the show criteria is similar across the country.
ST: What's the difference between the Mild class and Wild class?
Dave: At Heatwave, we have Street, Mild, and Full classes. The differences between them are changes and body modifications. Changes are bolt-on items, such as mirrors and bumpers. Mods are things done to the body or suspension that require a substantial amount of work; three changes equal one modification and three modifications equal a class change. Usually it takes quite a bit to get up to Full Wild class. We don't count every door handle being shaved as separate items - they all count as one - and you need six or more modifications to get into the Full class. Rims and tires or static drops don't count as modifications, though. Every vehicle at a show is either lowered or raised.
ST: Do you encourage under-construction vehicles at your show?
Dave: Yes, absolutely. It's actually one of the biggest classes.
ST: What do you consider under construction?
Dave: We require 50 percent or more primer. If someone wants to enter a stock vehicle with primer, then they can, but they won't win. The ones that win are just about ready for paint. It's one of the hardest classes to judge because the realm is so big. You can have several full-custom vehicles in primer, where only paint would've set them apart if they were finished. Again, many times it just comes down to cleanliness.
ST: Thanks, Dave. We'll make sure we stop by your air-conditioned office at Heatwave to say hello.
Promoter: Gil Luna Jr.
Show: Ludikrs
Location: Rialto, California
ST: Describe the judging at the Ludikrs Show.
Gil: Once you get to the gate, you will be put in your proper category by an official Ludikrs Show judge and numbered, and will receive all the necessary forms to fill out. Once you park your vehicle, make sure that all the paperwork is left with the vehicle and that everything is opened up for the judges to start judging. Once a judge is done with your vehicle, he or she will sign the judging sheet and will then cross out your numbered sticker. That way, if you were not present at the time of judging, you will know that it has been judged. Remember, if there is no paperwork or the vehicle is locked up, your vehicle will not be judged.
ST: How important are displays at your show?
Gil: Not important at all. Unless your vehicle is full-custom with a badass-looking suspension that we all need to see, then I can understand why you might want the truck to be on stands and roped off. Just let the vehicle speak for itself.
ST: Should people wait around their truck so they can answer judges' questions?
Gil: I don't believe it's absolutely necessary for the owner to be present. Since you have no idea when the judge will show up to judge your vehicle, I feel you should walk around and enjoy the show. But make sure that you leave all the paperwork. Also, make sure you have all the doors, tonneau cover, and hood open for the judges to do a complete and effective job. Like I said before, let the vehicle speak for itself. But if an owner wishes to be a part of the process, I welcome it. Just remember, try not to take up too much of the judges' time, and be courteous. Remember, you never want to piss off the chef while he's cooking your food.
ST: Are there any common mistakes that people make their first time out?
Gil: Yeah, they come to a show and expect to roll right in, park their vehicle, and take home a trophy. Remember, you are not the only one attending the event. There will be a line at the gate, if you don't arrive early, and there will be tons of vehicles that will be competing for the same trophy.
ST: What advice would you give to someone who wants to show his truck, but never has?
Gil: The best advice that I can give someone is that they should come to the event and just enjoy the show. Be courteous to the people at the gate when you roll up. Park your vehicle where you are asked to park it. Clean up your vehicle and have everything open for the judges to see. Be courteous to all staff and spectators, enjoy all the activities, and finally, please, don't complain about not winning a trophy. Like I said before, your vehicle isn't the only one at the show. Common courtesy goes along way.
ST: What's the difference between the Mild class and Wild class?
Gil: It all depends on how many body modifications you have. Each body mod equals a point or a combination of smaller body mods equals a point. The more points you have, the higher class you move in to.
ST: Do you encourage under-construction vehicles at your show?
Gil: Yes, I believe we need these vehicles at our show. All of our spectators and truck buddies should see what it takes in putting together a vehicle. Plus we can see the different ideas that others put in their vehicles before they are complete.
ST: What do you consider under construction?
Gil: A vehicle that is primered at least 50 percent or more with plenty of body mods.
ST: Thanks for your time, Gil, we'll see you later this year at the Ludikrs show.
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