S & J Truck Sales wins ’Big Rig Build-Off’ at Mid-America Trucking Show wearing PPG finishes
Jim Raines, owner of S & J Truck Sales in Ft. Wayne, Ind., was the winner of the Stars & Stripes “Big Rig Build-Off” truck beauty contest at the Mid-America Trucking Show held at the Kentucky Exposition Center here March 22-24. The Build-Off, co-sponsored by PPG Industries and Jones Performance, Inc., pits custom truck builders against one another to create the ultimate big rig. PPG supports build-off participants by providing paint products through a local source, and Jones Performance, a manufacturer of fiber glass truck hoods and custom fiber glass truck components in West Middlesex, Pa., offers design consulting and fabrication services to teams competing in the contest.
Because a fantastic truck needs a fantastic finish, Raines said, he chose PPG’s Omaha Sunset Orange and modified the formula to create a spectacular custom color using the Delfleet Evolution system from PPG Commercial Coatings. “The unique design and eye-popping color combined to make our truck a winner,” Raines said. “Although the competition was stiff, the ‘wow’ factor of the finished truck helped it take the first prize.” S & J competed against four North American truck builders who participated in this 3rd annual invitation-only contest.
Raines’ custom creation began with a ’95 Peterbilt, which he tore down completely. He then started with two new frame rails. His team put in more than 2,300 hours over a year’s time to produce a totally custom truck modeled after a 1950s style low-rider. In fact, Raines named the rig “Rock Bottom” because it was so low to the ground. “This rig is definitely one-of-a-kind,” Raines said. “Everything on it was custom-made and hand-built, including the fuel tanks, tool boxes, exhaust system, bracketing, custom rear fenders and more. Dave Jones and his team at Jones Performance were terrific helping us create an ultimate hood and fenders.”
The S & J team has a winning track record for its custom-built vehicles, with a host of awards and accolades to its credit. A custom-renovated ’54 Autocar Semi won the People’s Choice Award at the 2006 Mid-America show last year and was selected as one of 12 “Trucks of the Year” by the Shell Oil Company for its 2007 calendar, appearing on the calendar’s cover as the banner truck. In 2005, the Autocar was also featured in the American Truck Historical Society Wheels of Time Collectors special issue.
The Mid-America Trucking Show is the largest trucking industry event of the year and the champion of trucking trade shows. This year 1,067 exhibitors representing 47 states and 12 countries participated, and more than 75,000 trucking professionals attended to peruse more than 1 million square feet of exhibits.
Show attendees determined the Big Rig Build-Off winner, voting electronically by swiping their name badges through a card reader. “To achieve the championship award was unbelievable,” Raines said. “Winning the award based on popular vote made it an even more rewarding achievement.” Raines and his team accepted the Champion’s Trophy at a ceremony held at the conclusion of the show.
“Mid-America’s Big Rig Build-Off was created to promote the advancement of truck design through a competition among leading-edge custom truck designers to showcase the creativity and capabilities of today’s custom truck builders and their sponsors,” said Bud Farquhar, director of Stars & Stripes LLC, producers of the Build-Off. “This year’s entries certainly met those goals. These fabulous rigs are both beautiful and practical. This type of innovation serves to enhance the overall image of the trucking industry.”
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