by Greg Cooper February 28, 2021
The 1st Van Nationals® was held at Tiger Run, Colorado in
1973, hosted by Rocky Mountain Vans of Denver. The idea for a national van
event was first proposed by Steve Green, staff writer for Hot Rod Magazine. The
then editor of Hot Rod, Terry Cook wrote an editorial proposing this idea,
looking for a potential host. Rocky Mountain Vans responded to the
request, and put together the First National Truck-in. Hot Rod mag was not
directly involved in the running of the event but still had a controlling
interest. The National Truck-in®, as it was coined, was a big success and there was
interest for it to continue. Hot Rod Mag and Terry Cook were instrumental in
placing the second Nats. with Vans Am of Kansas as the host. The second National Truck-in® was held in Bonner Springs Kansa
There was an organization based in Chicago called the National
Street Van Association. It was growing in numbers and influence, and was
invited by Hot Rod magazine to be a part of the event. The following year the
Nationals was hosted by the NSVA and Midwest vans. It was held at the Beach Bend Park in Bowling Green Kentucky,
July, 1975. To this point Hot Rod magazine was the determining factor in who
was to host the event.
At the third National Truck-in® there were over 4000 vans in
attendance, A lot more vans than they were prepared for. There were a number of vanners unhappy with the issues that came
up. Then it was announced that the following year’s Nationals would again
be held at Bowling Green. There were a number of vanners that took issue with that.
To make a long story short, Rocky Mountain Vans decided to
trademark the name and take control of the National Truck-in®. By virtue of having hosted the first Nationals, they felt they had
precedence over the name. They were subsequently awarded the trademark rights
to the National Truck-in® name and would host the Fourth National Truck-in®.
RMV decided to Continue the tradition of passing the Nationals to
worthy groups. RMV wasn’t going to be able to host the event every year, but
would decide where it would be hosted, and by whom. They took bids from interested groups and would decide who would
be awarded the event.
In 1981 Rocky Mountain vans announced the formation of a regional
board. There were 9 members on that board, picked by RMV, each from a
geographical region of the country. The purpose of the Board was to be the eyes and ears of Rocky
Mountain Vans who at the time was the sole controller of the National Truck-in.
The Boards duties consisted of studying applications of clubs or organizations
from their area, and submitting recommendations to Rocky Mountain for final
judgment, determining who would host the following year’s National Truck-in®. Originally that announcement was to be made at that year’s
None of those original board members are still on the board. In
fact, there have been a number of changes over the years in the board’s
membership. Within a few years of its original inception the board members
picked alternates who would take their place if they were unable to fulfill
In the beginning there were no meetings scheduled for the board.
They met informally at the Nationals each year and soon began meeting during
the Council of Counsel’s weekend since most of them would attend there
By the early 1990s Rocky Mountain Vans determined that they would
no longer be able to be the determining factor in who got the Nationals every
year. At that time, they turned that responsibility over to the National
Truck-in Board®. The Board then became incorporated. At that point
the responsibility of the Board increased greatly.
When the board was originally formed
there were a number of groups and or clubs that wanted to host a National
Truck-in®. But as you know over the years interest in doing that has
diminished. It has gotten to the point where we don’t have any
groups interested in doing a Nationals in some years. In 2013 we had no bids. The Board had to step up and host the Truck-in ourselves.
Actually, in the last 10 years we’ve only
had one National Truck-in that was done entirely independent of the Nats Board®. Was
it not for the individual efforts of some of our members to put together a
hosting group, the Nationals Board® would have been on the hook for doing
several more National Truck-ins®?
The point is that this situation is not going
to change. We will continue to have to go looking for people to host a
Nationals. We have come up with at least one alternative with
our financing of the event to try to get more people involved in doing a
National Truck-in®, but the reality is that the Nats Board® is going to be
required to take more and more responsibility for this event if it is to
So, what can you, as an individual vanner do? Plenty! Volunteer. There are plenty of ways to help the National Truck-in®. Everyone has skills of some kind that would benefit the event. We
need show judges every year. If you have done any kind of customizing you are
needed. Come to a meeting, or the show classification and volunteer to
judge. We need people to help at classification. People to help add up judging sheets. People to help park vans the
day of show. People to organize trophies for the presentation. That’s just the
show. There is trash to dispose of. Bathrooms to keep maintained. You like a clean restroom? So, does everyone, but no one wants to do it. We need people to man the gate. It is open for at least a week. It has to have at least 2 people there at all times. People to man the headquarters. Selling ice is a full-time job. People to run games and activities, organizing entertainment, security personnel and more. As you can see there are a lot of
people needed to pull off this event.
The board is made up of 18 vanners. 9 members and 9 alternates. These vanners are all volunteers.
There is a support staff made up of vanners who help where they are
needed. They too are volunteers. You can join the support group and be included in all of our
meetings where your input is welcome. The nationals needs to become a communal
Look at it as the board and support group being no different from
the host club of any event. The Nationals Board® is not some governing body of
vanning. Our purpose is to host a truck-in every year. It just happens to be the largest van event of the year. Bringing
in vanners from all over the world. Our goal is to make it the best van event every year. To do that It needs your support and help. Come join us.