Preferred Rides of the Big Dogs
As of mid-July, the world's best team ropers were scrambling up and down the highway in the following brands of semis, trucks, and trailers:
Clay Tryan: Dodge dually/Bloomer 4-horse with living quarters
Patrick Smith: Dodge dually/Bloomer 4-horse with living quarters
Travis Tryan: Dodge dually/Bloomer 4-horse with living quarters
Allen Bach: Freightliner/Bloomer 4-horse with living quarters
Charly Crawford: Freightliner/C&C 4-horse with living quarters
Richard Durham: Dodge dually/Bloomer 4-horse with living quarters
Jake Barnes: Volvo semi/Bloomer 4-horse with living quarters
Kory Koontz: Freightliner/Bloomer 4-horse with living quarters
David Key: Dodge dually/C&C 4-horse with living quarters
Cody Cowden: Dodge dually/Circle J 3-horse bumper-pull
Steve Purcella: Dodge dually/Platinum Coach 4-horse with living quarters
BJ Campbell: Ford dually and Capri camper/"little old steel stock trailer"
Tee Woolman: Volvo semi/4-Star 4-horse with living quarters
Britt Bockius: Dodge dually/Bloomer 4-horse with living quarters
Wade Wheatley: Dodge dually/Bloomer 4-horse with living quarters
Clayton Grant: Ford dually/Elite 4-horse with living quarters
Speed Williams: Freightliner/Bloomer 4-horse with living quarters
Kyle Lockett: Dodge dually/4-Star 4-horse with living quarters
Blaine Linaweaver: Ford crew cab/Sooner 3-horse with living quarters
Rich Skelton: Motor home/Bloomer 4-horse bumper-pull
Jake Stanley: Dodge dually/Xpress 4-horse with living quarters
Dusty Morse: Chevy Duramax crew cab/Classic 4-horse with living quarters
Matt Funk: Dodge Quad Cab/Classic 4-horse with living quarters
Jay and Ryon Tittel: Freightliner/Exiss 4-horse with living quarters
Not everyone agrees on the pros and cons of the big semis dotting American fairgrounds at ropings and rodeos, but it's all about priorities for the top headers and heelers on the road.
Patrick Smith keeps driving his pickup because he likes to be able to unhook and run around town. Shain Sproul's new Duramax was in the shop back in July, but he still prefers it to the big truck he had before it. With more horsepower comes more hassle, he said, including the need for a CDL license.
Blaine Linaweaver also prefers a pickup, but then again, his three-horse trailer really isn't heavy enough to justify a semi. Of the guys who pull with pickups, Dodge is the overwhelming choice in 2005. David Key won the use of a Dodge last year and liked it so much he bought it. Matt Funk says his Dodge is more durable and seems to get better mileage than other pickups, even if it has less power or isn't as pretty a ride.
"I've traveled with some guys in trucks, and those semis take some getting used to," Funk said. "I don't drive them that well. They're less expensive than a pickup, but if you can't drive them, they're not too safe!"
World champ Allen Bach is an old hand at driving the Freightliner he's had for three years. Heavy trailers like his tend to push pickups around, he said. Jake Barnes is of the same mind, and likes his big truck for the stopping power he has with a trailer. Barnes' Volvo has an added bonus-its two-bed living area is just right for his driver, leaving the trailer for he and his family.
Kory Koontz' 2000 10-speed Freightliner is as big as they come, and it's around to stay.
"I've had pickups my whole career and I was tired of losing money on them," he said. "I wanted something I could drive for several years and not go in the hole on."
Tee Woolman loves his semi for a different reason-the Air Ride cab is easier on his body. Driving pickups for hours at a time made him tired and sore. Rich Skelton vetoed a truck and a semi in favor of a motor home that provides more room for the new family addition-his little girl. Despite having to rent a car when he's in town for a few days, he has no regrets on the ride.
Colorado brothers Jay and Ryon Tittel like their FL60 because size-wise, it's between a pickup and a semi-small enough to get around town but with an engine that should go a half-million miles.
And then there are still some undecideds. Steve Purcella has had everything, and recently traded his little semi for a dually pickup-but he liked the semi just as well. And Dugan Kelly has had a big truck for a year, but is thinking of going back to a pickup.