Here comes da judge

BEING A SHOW JUDGE: Standing In The Hot Seat

I bet every trucker rolling in to the “Judging Lane” at last week’s Shell Super Rigs event at the Oak Grove Petro in Oak Grove, Missouri, wondered if this year’s  judges were going to be fair and what they were looking for when it comes to scoring points.

Frankly, I wondered the same thing, as I’m sure my four companions did about me.

Smith Super Rigs

Steve Sturgess (left) and Custom Rigs' editor Bruce Smith discuss judging criteria during the Shell Super Rigs contest in Oak Grove, Missouri. Photo by David Purdy/Shell Super Rigs

You see this year I was the newby of the Shell Super Rigs judging quintet.

Where Dorothy Cox, Eric Harley, Steve Sturgess, and Jami Jones have about 50 years of combined event experience being Super Rigs judges, I had zero until last Friday.

Where they were calm, cool, and collected when the first rigs rolled through, I was nervous, sweaty, and frazzled.

It’s tough being a judge. Especially when fame and small fortunes for the owners of what would be named the Best of Show entries rested entirely upon the shoulders of the Fab 5.  I wanted to do my best for the trucker rolling his or her rig up to the Rotella T tent.

So I sweated over making sure I knew how the rig was used and what custom touches were done. Then I had to dig deeper and deeper into my memory bank as to how the rig I was walking around compared to similar rigs that had already passed.  The Missouri heat didn’t help matters, nor did standing on black pavement.

I put down scores in the boxes, and more than once made a second or third walk-around, which resulted in scribbling out one score and putting in another by its side. Some scores went up, others Shell Super Rigs Morewent down as my brain replayed what I’d seen minutes, hours, or a day earlier in other competitor’s rigs. By the time all 77 rigs rolled through my brain was past working overtime.

Of course being the new judge in the group I was worried about getting every rig judged “right.” The last thing I wanted to do was mess up a judging system fine-tuned over several decades.

But as Eric, who is the host of Midnight Trucking Radio and a veteran Super Rigs judge, told me time and time again, “As long as you are consistent in what matters to you in each category, you’ll do fine.”

So, all I can say to those of you whose rigs I had the privilege of judging, I gave each of you my best effort. Just like each of you did getting ready for the Shell Super Rigs judges.

But if you still feel the judging wasn’t fair, and your rig didn’t get picked for the prestigious Super Rigs calendar or win an award because another rig scored higher, you can lay the blame on the new guy….

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