As I look back on my past as a custom truck enthusiast, it's amazing to compare my views on certain things in "the scene" now with my views on the same things from several years ago. I have always been a hot rod-styled truck guy and have never shown the least bit of interest in chrome wheels and baller-style vehicles with more TVs than humanly necessary. Plain and simple: Toss on some large-diameter billet wheels, smooth off the body, cover the exterior with a bright and bold color topped with traditional flames, and some air suspension underneath, and I am a happy camper. Some things never change. This month, I came to grips with letting go of some objects that I never thought I would give away or toss in a trash can. Trophies are a tangible representation of a truck's success, and for many people, lining the fireplace mantle with five dollar gold statues wearing First Place plaques is enough to make them continue slapping down the credit card to improve their rides. When I began my custom truck journey, earning trophies for my customizing efforts seemed to be the most important reason to attend a show. I would spend countless hours before an event detailing my ride inside and out, not for the approval of spectators at the show, but for the judges. It wasn't until years later that I realized I was missing the point.

As I write this month's Ground Zero, I am fresh off the heels of spending this past weekend chipping the plaques off all my trophies and tossing them in the apartment complex's dumpster. Sort of a tough walk to the trash can considering those awards have served as decorative surroundings in all five of my apartments since moving out of Mom and Dad's house six years ago. Part of this was a result of being in the middle of moving and not wanting to lug these awards once again to a new residence, while the other was a result of realizing that I can't hang onto everything forever. Having spent the past five years going to shows and working, I have not had the time to show anything, but this break from the competition of truck shows has given me an opportunity to discover what it is really all about. This hobby is about enjoying a passion for custom trucks and SUVs alongside your fellow enthusiast. The vehicles are just the objects that fuel the friendships, spark the conversations, and crank over the fun. Getting a trophy to commend your customizing efforts certainly is an honor, but it should not be the only reason you participate. If that is your attitude, you might as well leave your truck in the garage. Shows should be looked back on with memories of when a certain high-caliber truck busted out onto the scene, or of events where countless "virgin runners" were covered in mustard, mayonnaise, beer, and whatever else a ruthless mini-trucker had on hand to initiate that particular enthusiast to the custom truck world. With the award-hungry portion of my enthusiasm no longer clouding my vision, I am now able to look back on my years as a custom truck fanatic and recall many great memories. No longer driven by the idea of winning, I can now attend an event and not be so obsessed with making sure my truck is perfectly spotless to secure the judges' approval. Aside from the fact that I don't consider it ethical to show my truck competitively, I simply do not care to be judged anymore. I find myself more intrigued with meeting new friends and sharing in the show experience with fun and interesting people. A couple of nods of approval and thumbs in the air are enough to reinforce the pride I have in my truck-even though I did not build it. Just remember that the experience of going to truck shows and interacting with good people who share your passion is the real trophy, not some cheap plastic award that is going to fall apart eventually anyway. Until next month, keep hitting those switches, cranking good tunes (such as Vixen and Leather Wolf ) and cruising until your heart's content.