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Mack celebrates big rigs

September 23, 2002|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

The 1989 Kenworth rig "The Neverending Story," airbrushed with colorful pictures from the movie with the same name, has more than 1 million miles on it, but owner Bill Tucker, 56, said it still works every day.

Tucker, of Essex, Md., said his 18-wheeler has been to California and back hundreds of times, so naming it "The Neverending Story" was a no-brainer for him.

"It's the story of truck driving," he said.

It was also the story at the Ninth Annual Bulldog Roundup at Mack Truck Saturday where many enthusiasts sorted through everything from big rigs to hot rods while eating foods that ranged from hot dogs to funnel cakes.

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The daylong event, with an expected crowd between 16,000 and 20,000, drew people and bulldogs - the Mack symbol - into the company's massive truck parking lot to the tune of country music.

Emma Kate Culler, 6, of Woodstock, Va., said her grandfather, a worker at the Pennsylvania Avenue plant in Hagerstown, got her interested in the roundup.

"I like to drive the Mack trucks," she said.

Her grandfather, Gary Davis, 60, a gear cutter at the plant, said he or Culler's father usually does the actual driving.

Davis and his family were headed to the "Drive a Truck for a Buck" event, where anyone with a dollar and a driver's license could take a shot behind the wheel of a big rig.

For the time being, Culler waited in line for another go in the bouncing castle, which was alongside a giant slide and carnival games in the children's section of the roundup.

Just around the corner, about 40 mostly classic Ford and Chevy cars in colors from candy apple red to Barney purple lined up inside the plant gates, some exposing polished engines.

Gerry Ocker, 62, a programmer at the plant, was putting some finishing buffs on his deep blue 1967 Ford Mustang, one of 10 classic cars he owns.

"I can't afford a Mack Truck so I bought a Mustang," Ocker, a 32-year Mack employee, said while shining his show car's engine.

Ocker, of Hagerstown, said he chose the Mustang over his Ford Cougar, Chevrolet Saleens and Chevy Cameros because, "It's a really nice restoration."

Louis Yeich, 31, of Elizabethtown, Pa., said he felt the emron paint - which changes colors - on his boss's 2000 Peterbilt truck was nice enough to show off at the roundup.

Plus, Yeich said, the airbrushed painting of a cat clawing dirt onto a bulldog's doghouse roof was his boss' symbolic way of saying the truck's Caterpillar engine is better than a Mack engine to have fun with the Mack truckers.

"They never want to let me into the gates for this," he said.

Mack was well represented at the event, which included seven slobbering bulldogs waiting for homes at The Rebound Bulldog Rescue Foundation tent.

Kate Kimener, 37, a representative of the mid-Atlantic branch of the not-for-profit foundation, said they come out to events like the roundup to educate people about bulldogs and to try to find homes for them.

"We get them from pounds or people that can't take care of them anymore," she said while tugging on the leash of a 2-year-old bulldog named Tug.

Area Lions and Lioness Clubs were well represented, too. The clubs were responsible for filling the stomachs of all the Mack enthusiasts.

"We've got country ham sandwiches, hot coffee, lemonade and iced tea," said Chewsville Lion's Club President Ron Busey, 63, while lining up some buns.

Busey and his 11 workers, including three Boy Scouts from Chewsville Troop 62, said they hoped to get $2,000 from selling food at the tent. The money would help at least 300 people in need of things such as eyeglasses and wheelchairs.

The roundup also featured self-guided plant tours, a toy and model show, a truck driving obstacle course and competition and a bulldog judging contest.

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