Big Rigs Shine at 2013 Mid-America Trucking Show

H Show & Shine II

If you've never been to a big-rig show, put it on your to-do list. And if you can choose only one show to get to, it should be the annual Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky. Not only will you see all the newest and biggest trucks allowed on U.S. roads, but it also offers seminars, technology, people watching and more show-and-shine beauties than your eyeballs can handle.

We attended this year's show in March and thought you might like to see all the massive and monster trucks we found on the floor and in the parking lot. These are just some of the highlights of the cool stuff we saw. To get the full experience — sights, smells and tastes — you have to attend MATS yourself.

We'll have more photos from the event on our Facebook page. Be sure to put next year's show on your calendar: March 27 to 29, 2014. For more information, click here.


A Lone Star II
Customized big rigs are what this show is all about, but in a sea of seats, wheels, tires, service parts and other accessories it was nice to see this customized International LoneStar with modified headlights, lightweight body panels and blacked-out rims.


B Lisa Kelly II
MATS is also about celebrities, albeit a different kind of trucker celebrity. Lisa Kelly began her professional driving career on the History Channel's "Ice Road Truckers," then launched into superstardom with the "IRT Deadliest Roads" spinoff. At the show she was mobbed by flustered middle-aged, balding men and tons of worshipping youngsters.


C Volvo VHD II
This customized Volvo pickup truck conversion was built in Dublin, Va., just 382 miles away from Louisville at the New River Assembly Plant. The truck has a 195-inch wheelbase, a 500-horsepower D13 Volvo under the hood, a Meritor RS 23186 rear axle with HD airbags and a custom crew-cab interior that includes a plasma TV, rear and side-view cameras, and a refrigerator built into custom cabinets.


D Seat Testing II
As you might imagine, for folks who make their living sitting down, driver and passenger air-suspended seats are important to test. Add to that the millions of square feet attendees have to walk (close to six miles to see the entire show) and there was a lot of seat testing going on for weary showgoers.


E Pikes Peak racer II
This Freightliner Pikes Peak race truck is owned by Mike Ryan Motorsports from Santa Clarita, Calif., and although this truck has had several successful runs in the mountains of Colorado, what Ryan really wants to do is get his ChumpTrucks big-rig racing series off the ground. Look for an eight-track U.S. series to start in 2014. For more information, go to


G Cummins tech II
All of the big engine companies have huge displays at MATS: Cummins, Detroit Diesel, Power Stroke, Duramax, Volvo and International. The most interesting future technology was in the Cummins booth, where it showed a compact next-generation two-stage turbo that looked to be on par with the high-tech turbos from Audi and Porsche. Cummins was promoting a motor generator for big-rig hybrid use that could, depending on the application, save as much as 40 percent on fuel costs. No applications for either technology has been announced.


F Custom Rigs Show II
The real show at MATS is out back at the PKY Truck Beauty Championship, where hundreds of chromed and polished trucks are on display in 25 different categories. Trucks with names like Bulldog Express, Liquid Motion, Black Menace, Smooth Move and Wild Child were on display for expert judging as well as gawking by show attendees. You can see all the winners in an interactive magazine format by clicking here.


How about some more info/photos on that Volvo "pickup"?

Nice coverage of the show for those of us that missed it, totally agree about the "real show" being out back. That's where the best fun is!

I have a feeling the newer two-stage turbos will be a big difference maker in the large diesel category. If the same power can be made from a 12 liter engine as a 15 liter engine it can't help but reduce weight space and fuel.

The more compact size might allow designers to tweak the front for better aero further increasing the fuel economy at speed. Very important not just for the trucking industry but for consumers as well with higher margins for commerce and lower prices for Joe average.

Looks like the Volvo pickup truck has a 2007-2013 chevy bed with a GM800 rear bumper.

I would like to have gone to this, I work in operations for a trucking company and two other office members got to go down in do recruiting at the show, maybe next year.

@ johnny doe. I think you hit the nail on the head with that one. Certainly looks that way.

Neat trucks. I like the Volvo pickup and the IH Lone Star.

Jeff doesn't like anything bigger than a 1991 full-size but he likes this Volvo. That makes a lot of sense.


Lol, good one. Had a good laugh off of that

@Bob J--I didn't say I didn't like big trucks, I said I don't want or need one. I don't need a Navistar or a Volvo truck but I like looking at them.

Jeff S.
Must be a Swedish thing with a Volvo Pickup. As Scania did this with their Cabover 730hp V8

RobertRyan: Thanks for that photo!! that is one cool looking roadster!!!!or whatever you would call it!

@ howam00 - the trucking industry seems to follow a pattern where improvements in cargo capacity and cost savings improve profits but those gains are short lived because rates get adjusted and companies and owner/operators end up doing more work for the same pay.

Cool truck show. I used to love going to trucking and equipment exhibitions with my dad as a kid.

@robert Ryan - cool pic.

This is a side of the trucking industry that not many people get to see. Some of these trucks are absolutely beautiful, almost to a point where you don't want to risk the truck by hauling anything.

Awesome show, we saw some cool trucks this year. Will definitely attend next time.

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