“WOW!”, “What a weekend!”, “That was EPIC!!!”, “One for the books”, “Best ever!”.....these are just a few of the blurbs I’ve heard about the 25th Annual Southeast Mini Truckin’ Nationals.
The weeks leading up to the show were an absolute madhouse here at the Common Treads Magazine headquarters. Not only were we preparing for one of our favorite shows of the year, we were also on our own “MiniNats Crunch.” We were neck deep into CTM Issue 26 and MiniNats was our fast approaching deadline. We decided to do things different this time and release the new issue without anyone knowing (minus a few that had to know of course...the team, some close friends, family etc). There were easily less than 20 people that had any idea about our plans. We pushed and we pushed hard. This one was BIG for us...a cover truck, and owner, that means a lot to the CTM Team as well as many others in the custom automotive world. I was both honored and excited when I got the text to “go ahead and run it” after we had originally decided to wait awhile.
So, after a few weeks of thrashing on this brand new surprise issue, it was time to upload the files to our printing company. We were down to the wire! It literally came down to the DAY and one hiccup along the way would unravel all of our plans to release this issue at MiniNats’ 25th show. Not only did we want this magazine at our BRAND NEW booth setup, we also had Mr. Bobby Long lined up to park his cover truck at the booth. The perfect recipe for debuting a new issue of CTM! The weeks of printing were a bit nerve wracking as we were patiently waiting and hoping for no setbacks. We didn’t have any room for error. Every person involved in the process had to be spot on to pull this off. We had already decided to ship some of the magazines to our hotel but even at that, it was tight. In the meantime, we finished up everything for the new booth setup and got new CTM products ready, got the trailer packed and everything ready to roll. Friday was our target for the magazines to arrive but we were planning on leaving out Thursday.
After leaving about two hours later than planned on Thursday afternoon, the CTM rig was on the road and headed towards beautiful Maggie Valley! Later than planned but still a day early for the show. A quick stop at Zaxbys and QT (that’s kind of our thing....) it was pedal to the medal time. The trip was smooth and pretty uneventful. Somewhere between Forest City and Hendersonville, I get a text from Bobby Long “Hey man where are ya? Can I get those decals for my truck on your way through?” Well I wasn’t far from their exit so I pulled off and met Bobby and his wife with some decals I had made for his truck for the show. I found out that he would not be at the show until Saturday because of work schedules. This was a bit of a bummer because I knew it would be Saturday until he saw his cover and feature....he hadn’t seen even a teaser at this point. I had his feature plaques in the truck and as exited as we both were...or all three of us....we decided to go for it. So in the back of a Cracker Barrel, Bobby and his wife unwrapped his feature plaques one by one. For the first time, Bobby was seeing his pride and joy in print.
Their reaction was priceless. At that moment, everything seemed to fall into place. The weeks of stressful thrashing to get the new issue out was over and we knew we did it right. We were so fixated on making the perfect feature but we had no idea how it would be received by Bobby. He said we nailed it.....I’ll take it! Dakota Brantley did an outstanding job on the shoot and an incredible job on the write up. It’s one of the best vehicle feature articles I have ever read.
So, after chit chatting with Bobby and his better half, I got back on the road for the last hour of the trip. I called our hotel and told them we would be arriving later than planned and they said “No problem, your room is ready and your boxes are already in your room.” SWEET! I had shipped some of my Carbon Canvas customers’ show flyers and other things to the hotel and I had several other projects in the trailer ready for delivery at the show. “Man....there’s a lot of them! I had the delivery guy just unload them right into your room.” Nice! Everything is there ready to load into the trailer.
As I look through the cases upon cases I realized there were more boxes there than there should be. MAGAZINES!!! A day early! Nice! At that moment, knowing that MiniNats was on track to be the biggest yet, a huge weight fell off my shoulders and rolled all the way back down the mountains.
After some much needed rest, it was a Friday morning. Time to get at it. After talking to the owner of our hotel, which is a super awesome guy, we were informed that the winds were gonna be 20-40mph all day. With a brand new tent and all new booth setup, we decided that Friday was gonna be a hang out day. We got our trailers in our spots and we relaxed. We did setup our new flagpole though! With Starr Mountain Sound and River Slam on one side and GrinderTV and Kustom Life on the other side, we were ready for an awesome weekend. It’s always nice having good friends to setup with at shows.
With over 400 vehicles rolling through the gate on Friday...we all cemented the thoughts we had about this year....it’s gonna be HUUUUUGE!
Of course the scenery is beautiful so after the crowd started clearing out Friday late afternoon, we took off across the show field with cameras in hand!
The variety and styles of trucks laying in the soft grass of the valley was pretty diverse. Tons of mini trucks, obviously, were sharing the fairgrounds with classic and newer full-size and midsize trucks as well as some hot rods, rat rods and even some mini-inspired cars.
There really was something for everyone. And this was only Friday!
As the sun tucked deeper behind the mountains, we snapped a few more shots before heading back to our room for some much needed rest.
REST?!? Haha! Yeah right! We had work to do. I unlocked the door and with Paul Snyder with me, we quickly converted our room into a temporary decal factory. What?? That’s right! As we were getting everything else ready for the show, the new batch of CTM decals didn’t get finished so our room was the perfect place to get those knocked out. We knew Saturday was shaping up to be pretty busy, so we pecked away at weeding, taping and cutting apart decals. These are only a FEW of the decals we completed and chances are, if you grabbed a decal at our booth, it might’ve been completed inside a hotel room! We never stop! Even when the “haters” tell ya we did!
After multiple trips to Walmart and a few food runs, it was rise and shine time. Saturday morning....the big day. We pulled into the show grounds and made our way to the trailer to start our totally new booth setup. As we are close to done with the help of myself, Paul, Will and Dakota, I get a text from Bobby that he’s 10 minutes away. We finally got everything situated, Bobby was parked and the newest issue of Common Treads Magazine was on display....everything had finally fallen into place! Everything just clicked! It felt amazing. Everyone was happy and upbeat, the stress level had diminished to zero and we were set to have the BEST MiniNats weekend ever! With Brian Horton on one side and Brian Goude on the other, we truly were surrounded completely by good people that have always had our backs.
We literally had a few minutes to snap a few shots of the new booth before Jason Bell opened the flood gates.
Clicking in at almost 750 entries, Jason and his crew had to shut down the gate sometime around lunch time on Saturday. That is insane! We heard there were close to 150 more outside the gate that would’ve registered if there was room. Crazy!
As the day rolled on, people were having an absolute blast. Everyone seemed to be having a drama free weekend. (Except for that one guy that feels the need to avoid us and tells everyone to not support us and not to attend our show...haha. We see you! 😉) The time was edging towards 5:00. That’s when everyone leaves the show field and go grabs a bite to eat. Our crew chose Zaxby’s....again....because it was quick, fairly quiet and good! We had to be back by 7:00 to catch the cruising.
From 7:00pm til 10:00pm, the streets of Maggie Valley turn into a parade of spark throwing masterpieces. Some of these guys wait all year for this one opportunity to lay those frames on the road and send sparks flying into the air. It’s definitely a sight to see and even if dragging is t your thing, I can almost bet you like to watch it! Maggie Valley is one of the few places left that allow it at a show and so many people embrace it. This year was no different. The streets were lit up for those three hours and cameras were snapping from one end of the strip to the other.
If throwing sparks is not your forte, there was plenty of regular cruising time to be had. The main thing to take from this is: Everyone had a great time!
When the sun started rising Sunday morning, everyone made their way back to the show grounds for Day 3 of what has been dubbed an epic weekend. We talked to old friends, made new ones, released a new issue of Common Treads Magazine with almost no one knowing it was coming, had some good food and great times!
As the show came to a close, we found out that the truck we had the honor of putting on the newest cover of Common Treads Magazine and also had parked at our booth all weekend....was selected for Best of Show! That was really the icing on the cake for an already insanely incredible weekend. That feeling cannot be described. Here at Common Treads Magazine, we strive for the absolute best quality we can deliver and when our cover truck is selected for the top award at a show of 750 quality vehicles....I cannot explain the way we felt.
Congrats to Bobby Long and every other person that took home an award from one of the best shows of the year! Hats off to Jason Bell and his crew for pulling off a smooth event and thank you for all that you do for Common Treads Magazine and for putting in the work for this show that we all enjoy and look forward to. Thanks to everyone that came by the booth and picked up the new magazine, shirts, hats, back issues, decals, banners and other cool stuff! I also want to see everyone encourage the guys that had misfortunes at the show whether it was the trucks that caught on fire, mechanical issues or anything else that happened at the show....and ANY show moving forward. We truly are in this together guys. Encourage your fellow enthusiasts, lend a helping hand when possible, support others and just be kind! It takes more effort to be a jerk. It takes a lot of effort to avoid people that you have done wrong....man up, make things right and be a POSITIVE force in our community. There is no reason or room to bash any person, show, business or anything else. Be a decent human being and we can continue having amazing events for us all to enjoy our hobby/lifestyle. United We Stand! We will see you at MiniNats 2020 and a lot of shows in between!