SuperShowRigs.com Storms Island Dragway with Force
By Josh Riccio
The roar of over a hundred diesel engines broke the silence on what seemed to be a normal, laid back, quiet Sunday morning in the town of Great Meadows, New Jersey. For the first time in more than 20 years, big rigs roared through the gates of Island Dragway, preparing to race. Island lay dormant for six months when it finally reopened in the summer of 2013. New track operator Melissa Milano took over operations of the track from her mother and worked with me over a short period of time to put this event together. The 2013 Shine & Smoke at Island Dragway Presented by SuperShowRigs.com was held on Sunday September 29, 2013.
Early Sunday morning I rolled into the track and there was already a line of trucks waiting patiently at the front gate. After few moments of pure (and understandable) insanity when the gates were opened and the trucks rolled in, everything started to fall into place. In attendance were everyday working trucks, tri-axle dumps, tow trucks, strictly race rigs, lifted and non-lifted diesel pickups, and even a fully custom-built show truck built by ETC (Elizabeth Truck Center). The big rigs continued to roll in most of the morning into the early afternoon. Drivers came from all over the local Jersey area, even a convoy of more than 10 trucks from Long Island, as well as Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and New York. More than 100 trucks, big and small, came out to this first time event at the strip.
The afternoon started with the open test and tune. The event was open to anyone who wanted to run their truck down the track all just for fun. Donny Williamson of Gary W. Gray Trucking in Delaware, New Jersey, raced down the track in fellow employee Greg Holt’s 2003 Peterbilt 379. He had a blast and loved the idea of an open test and tune. The heavy hitter big rig racers included Fred Angle, Rich Reddick, Sonny Kline, Leon Smith, and Joe DiPaolo Sr., along with crews from Blair Trucking, Victory Gardens, and GA Equipment. They all made their time trials and prepared for a gamblers race for the money which took place later on in the day, as well as a quick truck shootout. The diesel pickups were letting their presence be known, too. One of the racers even brought a set of four drag slicks and changed everything over in the show area. There were all kinds of pickups, from daily driven Dodge, Ford and GM pickups to a few custom built trucks with non-factory power trains.
Racing was not the only thing to watch that day; there was a lineup that was over a quarter of a mile long of show and race big rigs along the track fence ranging from a brand new 2013 Peterbilt 389 to a 1964 Kenworth dump truck. Some of the standouts of the show were Paul Vanker’s Kenworth W900L custom painted teal green with purple flames and a seductive woman inside of the flames. Junior John of Long Island, New York, brought his stretched out Peterbilt 379, which was painted a bright purple with custom orange stripes. He works it daily in and out of landfills pulling a dump trailer. Some other standouts of the show were the father and son set of trucks driven by Richard & Ron Seeman. The collection of antique trucks included several older Kenworths owned by Brian Bobrick, and Kevin Carter aka “Old School,” with his freshly redone Freightliner Classic XL. H & S Enterprises, Blair Trucking, Hillwick Inc., Two Brothers Scrap, Shadow Trucking, and VanElswyk Trucking also had trucks from their fleets at the show.
As the day went on, the crowds packed the stands to watch the races and to look at the trucks in the show lanes. All who attended the event were able to vote for a “People’s Choice” in both the big rig and the pickup classes. The trophies for the show and racing awards were provided by Bryan Mirsky of Legend Warehouse and Trucking. Trophies were given out to Best of Show in both the big rig and pickup classes, as well as to 1st and 2nd place in the Fast Truck shootout races, which was a one run shootout style race open to both the big rigs and pickups.
As the day came to a close, the winners were announced for the show and shine and the quick truck shootout was completed. The final event of the show was a bracket style gambler’s race with a $1200 total purse. Fred Angle took home the gamblers money in his Kenworth W900A, defeating Sonny Kline.
As the event came to a close and everyone began packing up and leaving, the chatter around the track and in the stands was all positive. After the show, a meeting with track management reiterated the same view, and I was given the green light to do not only one but two shows at Island in 2014. Island Dragway, located right off route 46 in New Jersey, was a perfect fit to be the new host for the official SuperShowRigs.com truck shows. With a very well maintained ¼ mile race track surface as well as room to have large car/truck shows, mud bogs, truck pulls and even flea markets, the track is on its way back to growing and becoming bigger and better. I’m personally very happy to be part of the Island family and want to help the track stay open and bring in business. I also want to say a big thank you to everyone who helped me out with this event, including Danielle, Eric, TJ, Doug, Bryan, Fred, Rich, Washington Collision, Island Dragway Staff, and everyone who attended.
With the 2014 show season around the corner, SuperShowRigs.com will be hosting two shows at Island Dragway. These dates have been approved and set, but if anything changes, please stay tuned to the SuperShowRigs.com’s Facebook page or SuperShowRigs.com under Upcoming Shows.
* Saturday, May 31, 2014 will be the Spooling Up All Diesel Show where any diesel powered vehicles are welcome in a non-judged show and shine as well as drag racing with cash payout to the winners in the gamblers races.
* Saturday, September 27, 2014 will be the 2nd Annual Shine and Smoke Diesel Big Rig and Diesel Pickup ONLY Show. This is a JUDGED show and shine as well as drag racing with cash payouts to the winners in the gamblers races.