Shepherd resident Wes Nelson and his truck “Big Red” took home the top prize in the History Channel’s Truck Night in America on Saturday.
The show is a truck versus terrain competition held in Georgia and featuring customized trucks from across the country.
“I’ve been watching this show called Truck Night in America, this little redneck show with real people and real trucks, competing down in Georgia, and they had a nationwide call out on Facebook. A friend of mine said you’ve got a pretty good truck, you should try out for that,” Nelson said. “They call me, and I have a week and a half to get my truck, my trailer, and tow vehicle 3,000 miles to compete.”
So his friends pulled out all the stops to get his truck competition ready. They watched last year’s episodes to get an idea of what to prepare for.
“We put an electric fan on it, so if I got into heavy water I could shut the fans off and not flood the motor with water,” Nelson said. “Built a system to flood the windshield. If you can’t see, you can’t race. It’s really muddy. It’s in a swamp. The owner of Glass Specialists, John, treated all windows with this film stuff. Last season’s episodes a couple people rolled and ran into trees because they couldn’t see.”
Now he and Big Red were ready to compete.
“It’s a war horse. It’s the one horse you can go to the stable and you can absolutely count on. It’s just going to work for you and it’s just a really killer truck,” Nelson said.
The competition’s different levels required drivers to know when to be on the gas and when to use the breaks.
The first competition was a hill covered in logs.
Big Red is a 1964 Ford. It was the oldest truck in the competition, and also had the shortest wheelbase of all the competitors. Due to its size, weight, and horsepower, the red truck was also the most maneuverable.
Another test was a car pull. The trucks were required to pull two cars and a scooter through the track and over a hill. This tested power, torque, and traction.
The final level was called the Four Horsemen. This was meant to test suspension, handling, and turning radius.
Though Truck Night aired on The History Channel, Nelson didn’t compete for the notoriety.
“My friend John Fuchs was in a really bad accident last year where they blew a tire out, which put him into a ditch, which put him into a violent roll. Him and his father were both ejected from the truck. His father died. They were lifelong friends,” Nelson said. “He broke his neck, he broke his back he ruptured his spleen.”
So he decided to win it for John. He planned to donate his $10,000 prize to his friend’s medical bills if he won.
“He is recovered now. He’s back in fighting form. He’s doing well, everything’s cool. I just figured they could use that toward medical bills,” Nelson said.
One of his fellow competitors, Tim Spurlock, also vowed to give John $1,000 of his prize money for the cause if he were to win. Spurlock and Nelson ended up being the last two left in the competition.
Big Red had never let Nelson down before.
“I took my wife on our first date in that truck. We’ve just done everything in this truck,” Nelson said.
And the truck came through again. Nelson and Big Red won the Truck Night in America competition.
You can watch the episode on-line on the History Channel website.
Nelson also said he would love to return and defend his title if ever given the opportunity.