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Shining Stars

Penske Commercial Vehicles has staged another successful Western Star Show ‘n’ Shine, featuring a mix of stunning modern-day Stars and hard-working old-school Stars, as well as some extremely impressive old Whites


It may have been classed as Western Star Show ‘n’ Shine but one of the first through the gate was this stunning cabover White. A great way to warm the camera up

Welcome to my sympathy story. Yes that’s right, a sympathy story. This time I’m not just going to tell you about attending a truck show, because I had to do more than that. This time I had the toughest job in the world.

Yes, you’ll get your bomb technicians bleating on about their high-risk work environments and the aircraft controllers waffling on about the stress load they carry. Maybe you think the doctors and nurses that spend 18-hour shifts saving lives or high-rise window cleaners working within millimetres of death are the ones doing it tough. I take nothing away from them, credit where credit’s due. However, how many of them have ever judged a truck show? None, and that’s the job I had to do. I was a truck show judge at the 2019 Western Star Show ‘n’ Shine.

Thankfully I’m a huge fan of Western Stars and Whites, particularly such an awesome array of bonneted beasts and cabover classics. So, for those that didn’t make it down to Penrith’s Museum of Fire for the third annual Western Star Show ‘n’ Shine, allow me to shine a light on the day.

Laurie Williams’ awesome mini-me Western Star was a real draw card and not just for the kids


Penske Commercial Vehicles started its inaugural Show ‘n’ Shine back in 2017. The first was held in Brisbane, last year’s was held in Toowoomba and this year the choice was made to have the show in Sydney. With Western Stars covering every part of this vast country it’s a credit to Penske that it is endeavouring to take the show to as many areas as possible.

I’ve been a willing attendant at the previous shows, being that I’m a huge fan of both ‘show’ and ‘shine’, and was blown away when I was kindly asked by Dale Christensen (Western Star Trucks’ national sales manager) to be a judge this year.

At first I figured it must have been because of my long history in the industry, my tendency to clean everything I drive and my love of all things shiny. I soon figured out it was actually because it’s a damn tough job when you have a paddock full of sparkly stars. Cue the sympathy here guys, judging at a show is some damn tough stuff.

The Western Stars that turned up ranged from the almost brand-new Ross Transport superhero range, to the actual brand-new 5800 demonstrator, to the older-than-me, immaculate Whites of Phil and Quinten Matthie, and last year’s champion, the ever-popular and cleaner than your local five-star restaurant, Phat Cat Star of North Queensland Truck and Machinery.

The Penske team made sure they were a full family fun day; between the rides, the stalls and the face painting it was all go

Well I’m never one to shy away from a challenge, unless it involves physical strain or mental toughness, so I threw myself into the judging. Thankfully I was left in charge of judging just two categories. It was amazing to see the effort the guys had gone to, to show off their rigs.

Tippers that spend 12–14 hours a day on wet or dusty job sites were cleaned to a T. Line-haul trucks that most often stopped only to refuel, and for compulsory fatigue management breaks, looked like they had just rolled off the factory floor.

While the numbers may have been down a little on last year, the quality was still just as impressive. The prizes? Well, jeepers, it’s enough to make me look at doing up a Star just to enter next year.

Truck of the Show went to this immaculate JT Earthworks & Bulk Haulage tipper. JT did a great job of shining up this hard-working rig


It wasn’t just about the competition though. Penske Commercial Vehicles started this show as a way to involve and interact with its customers. It’s a way for Penske to thank them for their loyalty and allow them to show off their pride and joy. They were also smart enough to let the drivers know the giant slide and the bumper cars were there for the KIDS to play on. Things could have gotten messy otherwise. I would have decimated all, coming down that slide, though stopping at the bottom may have been an issue.

Once the judging pressure had been completed and points tallied up I was able to go and enjoy the array of food trucks there to cover every dietary preference. I swear those chicken schitneys were pure heaven.

The Hi-Tech Heavy Haulage combo looked immaculate; even managing to pick up best Western Star in the 5–10-year category

Lunch was broken up with the arrival of the 2019 Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin and his teammate Fabian Coulthard. Yes, I did get a little star struck (pun intended) as I lined up for an autograph. I now get how the rest of you Aussies feel when meeting a Kiwi.

Prize giving was the closure to the day, with the band taking a break as a plethora of prizes were handed out. JTs Earthworks took out the King Rig prize this year, walking away with an all-expenses-paid trip to a round of the Supercars (okay, yes I may have also tried to pickpocket that prize, it looks so easy to do on TV).

A big thank you to the guys and girls from Penske for the invite. Also, a big thanks to the lovely Penske ladies wandering around handing out sunscreen, it saved me a lecture when I got home all red in the face.

It was another successful Western Star Show ‘n’ Shine; the mix of stunning modern-day Stars and hard-working old-school Stars, as well as some extremely impressive old Whites, both bonneted and cabover, was awesome to see. Next year though, I think I’ll avoid Dale’s calls because the quality is just getting too tough to decide.

Hitchcock Haulage out of Nowra turned up with a stunning array of old and new Western Stars, all looking immaculate

Photography: Warren Aitken

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