For over 50 years the mission of the American Truck Historical Society (ATHS) has been to preserve the history of trucks, the trucking industry, and its pioneers. That mission continued and was on full display at the ATHS National Convention and Antique Truck Show, held on June 9-11, 2022, at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield, IL.
Best known as the Land of Lincoln and capital of Illinois, like most state fairgrounds across the United States, the Illinois State Fairgrounds is a very large facility. It encompasses a total of 360 acres on the north side of Springfield and was large enough to accommodate this year’s annual ATHS national show.
The fairgrounds were available to early arrivals and registration beginning Tuesday, June 7, and Wednesday, June 8. The show officially began Thursday, June 9. The trucks were parked in seven designated areas spread out on the north, east, and south sides of the fairgrounds. Other important designated areas were for transport parking, truck washing, photos, and spectator parking. Because of the size of the show field, using a golf cart was probably the only possible way to visit all the areas and check out all the trucks in attendance at this show.
Unlike other truck shows, ATHS is very organized and structured for its hours of operation and planned activities. The show opened at 7:30 am and closed at 5:00 pm on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Saturday hours were from 7:30 am and officially closed at 4:00 pm. There were no planned truck show events after 5:00 pm. It’s intentionally planned this way so that attendees and members have an opportunity to socialize and spend their evenings together.
We experienced a mixed bag of weather over the weekend for the show. I arrived early Thursday morning with the plan of touring the entire field in the cart that I had rented for the weekend to get familiar with the truck parking and the layout of the show. Even the best laid plans can be thwarted by Mother Nature – and here, that was the case on Thursday. The day began with clouds which eventually lead to rain on and off throughout the day. Not all was lost. I was able to get a feel for where all the trucks were parked throughout the show and develop a strategy for taking photos on both Friday and Saturday.
Weather on Friday and Saturday was more accommodating for the truck show. The sun came out on Friday and, typical of the weather in central Illinois, it got hot and humid. I was able to finish reviewing the entire show field and took a lot of photos on Friday and Saturday morning. The weather on Saturday began nice, with sun and warm weather, but as the day progressed, the clouds started rolling in and rain showers eventually developed in the afternoon.
10-4 Magazine did not have a booth at this event, so I was fortunate to make JC Alt’s “Tiltin’ Hilton” trailer my home base. This would prove to be a blessing as the weekend progressed because of the heat and sun. I was able to spend a lot of time with JC and Deb Alt, along with my good friends Dave and Connie McKinney.
The annual ATHS national show is not your typical fast paced, bands playing, fireworks display type of truck show. Although there are different types, classifications, and eras of trucks, there are no awards handed out. My brother Rick drove trucks for over 35 years, starting his career in the early 70s. Both he and I have a fondness for those trucks we grew up with in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. He, his wife, and I had the opportunity to admire so many trucks from those years that had been lovingly restored to their former glory. It was awesome!
There were many sharp looking trucks at this show, and it was tough for me to pick my top five favorites, but I did. My top favorites were Betcher Trucking’s blue and white needle nose Pete, Walter’s Trucking’s red and black with white stripes Mack Superliner, Van Kampen’s red, orange, and yellow 359 Pete, the Al-Amin Brothers’ matching W900 and Freightliner cabover (silver with yellow stripes), and my top choice was the “Cherry Pie” 1973 W900A – a red and white rig with gold stripes and a Double Eagle sleeper. It was a “cherry” old Kenworth, for sure.
There were about 50 vendors and ATHS chapters that had vendor booths both inside the pavilion and outside. Some of the participating chapters in this year’s event were Baltimore/Washington, Lincoln Trails, Beer City, Springfield, and Reno/Lake Tahoe. At the center of the truck show field, near the pavilion, was an area for several food vendors. The area was covered with a canopy and populated with many tables for people to sit, eat their food, and relax… plus get a reprieve from the heat and sun under that big metal shade canopy.
There were 11 presentations made available to attendees in the Artisans Building on Thursday and Friday. A sample of some of the presentations were Fuller RoadRanger transmissions, the early history of the Four-Wheel Drive (FWD) Company, getting the most from your ATHS membership, celebrating the 90th anniversary of the Cummins Model H engine, and history of the Oshkosh truck. Other activities available included tours throughout the fairgrounds of The Lincoln Experience, a Salute to the Military, and Springfield!
Anyone familiar with how these ATHS conventions are scheduled knows that each year the locations are rotated between each region of the country (East, West, North, and South). The 2021 event was held in the East at Harrisonburg, Virgina. This year’s event was held in the Midwest at Springfield. Next year’s show is scheduled to take place out West. Join us next year for the 2023 ATHS National Convention & Antique Truck Show on June 8-10 in the “Biggest Little City in the World” – Reno, NV. The host hotel for this event will be the Grand Sierra Resort, and I have heard that this is a great location for the convention.
According to Meredith Carr, a staff member of ATHS who worked at the Springfield convention, she informed me that over 700 trucks were registered for and attended this show. The number of trucks and attendees were down a bit from last year, primarily because of the high fuel prices and a down economy. Even under these circumstances, it was a good show with lots of nice trucks, many attendees, and plenty of spectators. True to its mission, the American Truck Historical Society continues to preserve the history of trucks, the trucking industry, and its pioneers. That was demonstrated at this year’s ATHS National Convention and Antique Truck Show, held in the heart of the Midwest, in the beautiful and historic Land of Lincoln.