When it comes to throwing a great truck show, the three most important things are location, location, and location. Our case in point is the Chevy/GMC Truckin' Nationals held at the Santa Maria Fairpark in Santa Maria, California. For those of you unfamiliar with the town, it's nestled right in the heart of California's incredibly beautiful Central Coast region.
The Chevy/GMC Truckin' Nationals have been in existence since 1981, hence the 26th Annual designation attached to this issue's event coverage. Thinking back to the commercial vehicles brand new in the founding year of this event brings one to realize the GMC and Chevy trucks that were new at the 7th annual GMC Truckin' Nats are now old enough to qualify as features for Custom Classic Trucks.
Unfortunately, in the last few years spectators and participants alike have had to contend with occasional rainstorms. For 2006, the "weather guesser" predicted rain for the entire weekend. Based on our past really good experiences at the Chevy/GMC Truckin' Nationals, rain or shine we were going to make the 200-mile trek north to Santa Maria. It was raining cats and dogs when we rolled out of Orange County early Friday morning. The scenic drive north on PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) was just plain fun. It's real neat to get an old truck out on the open highway and blow past the goons in their trendy imports like they're stopped. Thanks to a '05 325-inch L59 small-block, our pickup averaged as high as 22 mpg on the way up. North of Goleta, California, the temptation to roll 85-95 mph was too much. Even with a dropped stance, we could see over the roofs of cars. Rounding the bend at Gaviota in excess of 90 mph, we spotted a CHP blasting south at well over 100 mph. Our first thoughts were, "He is in a big hurry to whip a U-turn and write us the speeding ticket of the century." Our paranoid thoughts hadn't even cleared when a pack of eight more CHPs screamed behind him on the southbound PCH lanes. The chase continued until at least 20 more marked patrol cars passed with an assortment of ghost cars and trucks in the mix. That was a close enough call for us. We stuck the throttle at 70 mph and cruised the rest of the way into Santa Maria, flying under the radar, as they say.