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Semi Casual Truck Show

By on July 1, 2018

Thinking about your personal life, the words semi-casual conjure up feelings of being relaxed and comfortable, without looking like someone who forgot to change out of his or her pajamas. If you were going to start a new big rig truck show, the name “Semi-Casual” has a pretty cool ring. In much more than just a play on words, the team at Fitzgerald USA is giving Semi-Casual new meaning when it comes to staging what promises to become a bar-raising, three-peat truck show.

Two annual shows into the nurturing process, Fitzgerald USA has landed on a winning concept that’s both unique and super fun for the show entrants and their families, as well as the general public. The concept is quite simple. Day one is all about truck staging, preparation and camaraderie among show entrants. Day two features wall-to-wall action and family entertainment par excellence. The “Field-of-Dreams” ingredients for greatness are clearly in place. The “They-Will-Come” part of the equation is sure to take a giant leap forward on Friday, May 31 and Saturday, June 1, 2019. How so you say?

Magnetic Venue

Nothing attracts “Show-Me-What-Ya’-Got” big iron like a cool venue that rings the bell on the fun meter for every patriotic American trucker who takes personal pride in showing his or her rig. Bristol Dragway (Tennessee) is just the place to show off your beauty on the paved show field, before turning its inner beast loose on the famed ¼-mile dragstrip that hosts the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals. Earlier this year, Fitzgerald USA signed multi-year title sponsor agreements for the spring NASCAR Xfinity Series race and the annual NHRA event. The Semi-Casual truck show adds a third leg to this Bristol Motor Speedway trifecta.

Friday with Friends

Semi-Casual Friday is reserved for show participants and truck preparation. Throughout the day, arriving drivers were greeted by Lisa Van Westing and her daughter, Lisa Fitzgerald. They played a huge role, organizing the show and making sure all of the entrants were treated as special guests of Fitzgerald USA. Drivers received cool shower (gift) bags that contained shirts, hats and other goodies provided by Fitzgerald and Semi-Casual sponsors. Parking spaces were assigned, and those who choose to go trailer-less dropped their trailers in a secure area.

Two cleaning/washing crews were available to wash and prep trucks prior to Saturday’s show. Designated areas with running water were also provided for those who preferred the DIY approach. Three polishing teams were on hand to assist with beautification for the full range of chrome, aluminum and stainless accessories. After the trucks were prepped, a VIP reception and dinner hosted by Fitzgerald USA for entrants, their families, sponsors and vendors capped the day.

Since Bristol Motor Speedway was born from the legends of the Appalachian Mountains. It’s only fitting that the Ole Smoky Rooftop Lounge and the adjacent Ole Smoky Room provided a great atmosphere, high atop turn 4. There isn’t a more American way to appreciate and enjoy the camaraderie and conversation that continued well into the evening.

Sensational Saturday

The day started on a high note with an 8:00 a.m. breakfast for all of the drivers, families, sponsors and vendors. The show opened to the public at 10:00 a.m. much to the delight of the adoring guests who were treated to non-stop fun. Whether eight or 80, there was plenty to see for the inner-kid in everyone who ever admired big rig, eye-candy awesomeness. The Jesse & Rodney Stunt Show captivated the crowd with their magical maneuvers on motorcycles, and a  variety of kid-pleasing games and activities were sprinkled throughout the day. The Bristol Dragway concessions provided a satisfying range of food and beverages, and more than 30 product vendors were on hand.

This truck show ran the gamut from the upper tier of purpose-built show trucks to fully loaded rigs that were in the middle of a paying run. Judging occurred throughout the day leading up to an awards ceremony that recognized three standouts. The top honor went to the working truck, a Fitzgerald Glider, of Eric Turner from Georgia. The Davis brothers from Indiana, Tom and Brian respectively, took second and third. Others in the top 10 were Randy Menkel, Rick Shrout, Bob Harley, Billy Rethwisch, Billy Rethwisch and Billy Zirkle. Entrants represented more than 10 states, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. More entrants from a larger number of states are expected for 2018.

Run What You Brung

Fans flocked to the stands as more than half the show trucks logged at least one timed run on Thunder Valley’s famous ¼-mile asphalt. Under the watchful eyes of Bristol Dragway officials, drivers could run as often as they wished in side-by-side duels. Friends competed with friends, and strangers competed with new friends. The informal 4-hour, energy-packed event produced some spirited competition with only bragging rights on the line. The fastest of the fast tripped the lights in the mid-14s and topped out slightly above 97 mph.

Tracing its roots to London in 1971, the modern version of Foghat entertained the evening crowd with tunes made famous by the English blues rock band some 40 years ago, plus a few new ones. Stop 15 on an impressive list of 50 U.S. concert dates proved to be a big hit with everyone. The evening ended with a fantastic fireworks display that ushered in a few rain showers, which arrived too late to dampen the enthusiasm of an appreciative Semi-Casual 2018 crowd.

Plan Ahead for 2019

Don’t wait for your formal invitation to Semi-Casual 2019. Just enter the May 31-June 1 dates in your digital calendar and give yourself a few weeks advance notice for planning your loads, so you can enjoy both days of fun. The show is open to any truck make and model. The Fitzgerald USA team is already well on its way to raising the bar in terms of trucks, attendance and notoriety. Don’t be surprised if everything about this semi-casual event is bigger and better next year, including the drag racing activities and the evening entertainment. You can even book a very economical stay in a Bristol Motor Speedway condo.

Check out the entertaining 2018 photo gallery at RoadKing.com and monitor the news about Semi-Casual 2019 at FitzgeraldTruckShow.com and on Facebook.

About Warren Eulgen

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