The idea came to me on a vacation some five years ago, in a hotel room in Austria, where I was watching the finals of the European Champions’ League. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, it’s one of soccer’s most elite competitions, where the champions of the various national soccer leagues—in England, Germany, Spain, and the like—do battle in a round-robin elimination tournament to determine the best club in Europe for the year. Think of a “real” World Series, where America’s best baseball team plays the winners of the Mexican League, the Dominican League, the Japanese League, etc., and you get the idea.
For some reason, this led me to reflect on our own signature competition: Wouldn’t it be cool if we held a Top Truck Champions’ Challenge, where we invited all the winners back to compete head-to-head? (Guess the soccer match must have been a bit boring—I usually think about other stuff when I’m on vacation.) Five years later, to celebrate Top Truck’s 20th anniversary—and this magazine’s 50th—that’s exactly what we’ve done. And one year from now, as you’ll find in this issue, you should see features galore on the 22 past winners of our marquee event.
As I write this, about half of the previous winners have been tracked down and notified, and to date, all have consented to attend next year. Most will be bringing the rigs they won with, while a few are building brand-new rides just for the event. (We decided to let the competitors “run whatever they brung,” on the assumption that some of the earliest winners wouldn’t still have the vehicles in which they won—which turned out to be correct.)
One problem, though: Top Truck has always been a reader-driven event. You enter your rigs for consideration, and you vote in the 10 competitors each year, so inviting 20-plus former champs would seem to preclude any reader involvement for 2012, right? We thought about this, and decided that in order to keep Top Truck true to its roots, we’d always need to make room for some fresh reader talent. But we also wanted to do something different, to make the 20th running of TTC really stand out from the others.
So next year, we’re giving one lucky wheeler the chance to run with the Hall of Famers next year at TTC XX. That’s right, we’re still inviting you to submit your rigs for consideration—only next April, when you send in your ballots and we tally them up, we’re only going to invite the number-one vote-getter. Consider him (or her) the champ of all challengers for 2012.
To make things more interesting, and to “up the ante,” we’re going to throw this contest open to former competitors, too. In the past, wheeling at Top Truck has always been a “one and done” deal—meaning that if you were chosen to participate, you only got one chance at the brass ring—but since we’re inviting all of the previous winners back, we figured we might as well give all the runners-up of yesteryear a shot at competing again as well. There have been some very worthy competitors who didn’t win at TTC, and we thought it would be cool to see what kind of rigs they’re building and/or wheeling these days.
And as mentioned, one of them—or maybe even you—might get a chance at redemption next year in Hollister. It all depends on who you decide to vote for.
Look for your mail-in ballot in the April 2012 issue. As in years past, there will be no limit on the number of votes you can send in, so ballot-stuff to your heart’s content. And if you’ve always wondered whether your rig has what it takes to go toe-to-toe with former TTC champs like Shannon Campbell and Clayton Kraatz, now’s your opportunity to find out. You can find our entry form for next year’s battle on page 64. We’re looking forward to receiving one from you.