Santa Maria is an interesting mix of 1800s cemeteries surrounded by late 20th-century housing tracts, with a new Home Depot, Wal-Mart and other big chain stores on the outskirts of town. One of the best things about rolling into a town for a truck show is seeing the streets packed with customized old trucks. By Friday afternoon, the sun had burned through the rain clouds and Santa Maria was covered in a beautiful orange glow.
We chowed down on some real tasty Santa Maria-style barbecue and then headed to the Fairpark. The excitement mounted as more and more trucks pulled into the grounds. The pressure really increased when we started running into editors and photographers from other truck magazines trying to line up feature trucks. Our friend Mark Halverson from our sister publication Truckin' already had the little yellow Advance-Design Chevy with the purple flames on it in the sights of his D-10 Canon. Before the sun had set we'd met up with Horsepower Promotion's Seth Doulton, who hooked us up with press credentials and event T-shirts.
Early Saturday morning, as the sun was rising, we left the host motel, the Best Western Big America, and headed up to the show grounds.
For the folks who gambled the weather guesser was wrong, the payoff was big. Thanks to the rain cleansing the air and everything on the ground along with it, Saturday and Sunday turned into a classic California sunny weekend-oh yeah, and speaking of a California classic, all the California Highway Patrol cars we saw down south? It was a high-speed pursuit that ended with the highway closed for five hours. We just missed it.