Each year, during the hottest month of the summer, thousands of custom trucks converge on Austin for the Texas Heat Wave. They've been coming to Texas for years to show off the accomplishments made during the off-season. We got to Austin early this past year to make sure we didn't miss a minute of the event that has thousands of enthusiasts running for shade by noon every day. Since Friday was mostly a set-up day, we rummaged through the area to see what had already shown up and talk to the diehard mini-truckers who come in early to get the best spots at the show.

To our delight, there are always plenty of new rides to be seen and photographed at Heat Wave. On Saturday, more customs were lined up in rows at the Travis County Exposition Center than you can imagine. Everything from skied monster trucks to body-dragging mini-trucks, and everything in between, could be seen parked or patrolling the grounds. With so many people packed in amongst them, it was a sea of automotive interest. Just because the place was packed to the brim with customs, don't think that a bunch of parked trucks were the only things to be seen during the weekend. There was also live entertainment, plenty of food, and deals on just about any truck part you'd possibly want for a discount over the normal price.

Nearly every major player in the custom automotive aftermarket catering to mini-trucks was at this show. Manufacturers and custom shops alike were lined up in the show's huge vendor section. Plenty of the companies represented had demonstrations with parts and products, as well as a bunch of some of the trickest customs the world has ever seen to demonstrate the companies' custom-truck-building prowess. Enthusiasts poured into the showgrounds on Saturday, looking at everything being displayed and checking out the competition in their show classes. Those who were smart enough to bring EZ-Up shelters or park near trees were able to stave off the 106-plus temperatures and laugh their butts off at everyone else sweltering in the Texas heat.

Around noon, participants and spectators gathered on the access road behind the Exposition Center for the famous burnout competition. Texas Heat Wave hosts one of the wildest burnout competitions held during the custom-truck show season. Burnout fans gathered around as competitors proceeded to roast their tires for cash. Once the smoke cleared, the crowds went back to dust down their rides for the judges' watchful eyes. Enthusiasts spent the rest of the day in a constant cleaning frenzy while doing their best to stay out of the blistering sun. Before we knew it, the second day of Texas Heat Wave was over and most of the vehicles on the showgrounds left the event to head to hotels, showers, and the local nightlife, and to get some well-deserved rest.

The final day of Heat Wave began with more fun, including the incredibly warm weather. Part of the crowd pulled their clothing off, resorting to beach attire, while the rest just sweated it out. Having the awards ceremony indoors with air conditioning was a welcome treat. With so many vehicles competing for awards, you can imagine how difficult the judges' decisions were and how long the awards ceremony was. After the winners were announced, all the trophies were handed out, and enthusiasts began to make their way to their trucks and out onto the road for the drive home. This Heat Wave was one of the largest and hottest ever. For more information on Heat Wave, contact: Texas Heat Wave, P.O. Box 2177, Pflugerville, TX 78691, (512) 252-0283, www.texasheatwaveshow.com.

"Best Of" Awards
Best of Show - Rickey Sanchez
Best Mini-Truck - Robert Henkel
Best Paint - Ben Terry
Best Interior - Cory Rogers
Best Graphics - Gary Bigs
Best Candy - Alfred Rangel
Best Engineered - Jeremy Carlson
Best Mural - Chad Aberle
Best Chrome - Woody Wilson
Best Display - Spiderman (Robert Summers)
Most Club Entries - Vertically Challenged (68)
Long Distance - Vincent Carrabba (Staten Island)
Best Pearl - Daniel Martin

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