With everything that has happened during the course of 2020, one notable absence from the calendar is the humble truck show.
From Castlemaine to Casino and Clarendon, this mainstay of the trucking industry has taken a hit this year, which in turn will affect the shows of the future.
It’s not just fans of chrome and blinged up rigs who are missing out, it is charities and mental health that are affected as well by the current situation.
Today, we are looking at the current situation affecting truck shows, to see how we were, where we are now, and what the future holds for this important aspect of trucking life in Australia.
Bruce Gunter is a man who knows truck shows, as one of the driving forces behind both Haulin the Hume, and the Kenworth Klassic truck show, he also knows the cost of cancelled events.
We spoke to him about the hard job of having to call a stop to a trucking show, and what making that call entails.
“It can be six months of planning, hours and hours of work trying to manage it all,” says Gunter.
“Road rallies are harder to set up than static displays, talking to councils and police to plan routes and stops. Merchandise is a large part of the planning process, with pens, hats and stickers, deposits for caterers, all at risk if a rally is cancelled.”
Both Haulin the Hume and Kenworth Klassic together have donated over $100,000 to Aspect Australia, a charity to help those on the autism spectrum.
Those who have stalls at truck shows are also affected at the moment as well, with caterers and food trucks, as well those who spruik there wares are unables to do business in their traditional manner.
The social aspect of truck shows have been lost as well, with a recent road rally cancelled due to a fear that someone could introduce COVID19 to a small town, and as Gunter puts it, “we don’t want to bring any area of transport into disrepute.”
Gunter’s last point on the matter is the most important one, he believes.
“The greatest concern is for blokes’ mental health. This is everyone missing a chance to forget their issues for a few days. It doesn’t matter if it’s cat shows, car shows or budgie shows, none of us are getting that social aspect of being able to get out there, to talk about what we love.
“As for our group, old trucks are our thing, and we need truck shows and rallies, to know we are amongst friends. This helps keep a hold of your sanity, and it’s sad that we have to miss out’.
The upcoming Bathurst Truck Show, renamed last year as the Dane Ballinger Memorial, is at the point of go or whoa at the moment, with the show organisers making a decision in early September as to whether to go ahead.
We caught up with Dean Campbell, one of the organisers of the show, and ultimately one of the people who has to make a call on what could possibly be the first large truck show of the year.
“I am keen on doing the show, but it all depends on what the current rules and regulations will allow us to do,” he says.
“We are not going to half-do the show, we have very good support from all over Australia, with organisers from Penrith and Casino truck shows showing support.”
With approximately 180 trucks through the gate last year, Campbell has full intentions of running the show, but it will need to be called soon to allow for enough time for planning.
As it stands, the advent of Casino Truck Show being a virtual truck show is a first for Australia.
Setting a precedent which will show the viability of running a truck show online, Casino Truck Show has a chance to break new ground.
Alternatively, one could look at how the cancellation of the Penrith Working Truck Show has affected the Museum of Fire so strongly, that much of the outlay for the year has not been recovered, due to both the Working Truck Show and subsequent shows being cancelled.
Without truck shows, the Australian transport industry loses so much. From a financial perspective, the viewpoint of mental health, so many standpoints are affected by the current situation.
However, with Casino going on online, and hope for the Bathurst Truck Show to proceed, it means that hope is not lost for the future.
The calendar could again be filled with truck shows. Only time will tell.
- After our writer filed this story, the organisers of the i98FM Illawarra Convoy released their plans for a new-look 2020 event.