Warm temperatures throughout the year means Florida drivers never have to tell their trucks "I'm sorry" as they lock them away for a long, cold winter. Cruising and showing are year-round events, so the automotive enjoyment never shuts down because of weather. However, even without the distinctive change of seasons, there is a traditional year-end event that no one wants to miss. Slamfest is the last big show of the year, and for a dozen reasons, it's always high on everyone's list.

The members of Mini Madness have been staging Florida's premier car and truck show for the last decade, with each show surpassing the last. The club itself has matured; many of the original guide the newbies, blending experience with enthusiasm and creating a must-attend event. This year's get-together held to tradition, treating truckers to a weekend of good times and camaraderie.

Recognizing that everyone may not want to compete, Slamfest begins with a streamlined registration procedure. Classification for those interested in filling a spot on the trophy wall is done separately so that those who just want to hang out are not held up in the line. Mini-truckers create a lot of innovative sheetmetal swaps with Chevy S-10s sporting new Sonoma front ends, early Ford Rangers with late-model Ford Explorer front ends, and early Nissans with Frontier front ends just because they can. Besides the huge collection of more than 1,500 phat rides, there was also a carefully planned itinerary to keep you entertained throughout the weekend.

The Competitive Edge stereo contest had 98 contestants on Saturday trying for the big $500 SPL prize. Vehicle judging also occurred on Saturday, so the pink-shirted Mini Madness club members were always on the move. Spectators stayed mobile as well, greeting old friends and trying to see all 1,547 vehicles on display in the Tampa State Fairgrounds. Sunday was where the real action began, kicking off with the distinctive roar of the Burnout Contest. From big-inch pickups bakin' their doughnuts to highly modified four-cylinders frying their meats, the crowd loved them all. Once the smoke cleared and the Tampa skies returned to sunny blue, it was time for another traditional favorite, the Slamfest winter bikini contest. Looking for the title as well as the cash, eight lovelies lined up, each intent on capturing the attention of the crowd. All were pretty enough to win, but Renee Lavender had that little something extra, taking home the $500 cash prize.

With hardly a break in the action, DJ Phil Pasek kept the enthusiasm high by giving out a ton of prizes, including sets of Enkei, Giovana, TSW, and Sport Line wheels, thanks to sponsors such as BFGoodrich, Street Heat, N2Audio, Wheel Tec, and Trick Trucks. Following the giveaways, the awards presentation always gets the attention of the crowd, especially if you were one of the 147 folks who heard their name. Jerry Barry heard his, capturing the Best of Show Truck trophy and winning $500 for his Pro Street S-10 equipped with a blown 350, a narrowed rear clip with 20-inch-wide rear tires, a tilt bed, a leather interior, and a competition stereo. Even happier was Gerald Ashe, winner of the $1,000 prize, awarded by the Mini Madness club members, for his ground-scraping '96 Nissan.

Every year, the best part of Slamfest is the anticipation of the fun connected with this great Fall show. And every year, when the weekend comes to a close, there's a touch of sadness knowing it will be another year before the Madness resumes. As always, community plays an import role for Mini-Madness club members, with a significant portion of the proceeds going to local charities.

If you'd like to be part of a worthy cause and a great year-end tradition, put Slamfest on your November, 2002 calendar. If you're one of those truckers locked down in a cold Minnesota winter, bust out and keep driving until the snow melts. We guarantee you'll love mini-truckin', Southern style. Check out the details at www.minimadness.com.