As far as minitruckers are concerned, winter sucks-especially if you're from the East, or the North. Snow blows. If you're from the South or West it still sucks, because driving in the rain isn't fun when it's going into the motor, (since chances are you don't have inner fenders). And, it's not fun when mud starts to hit the back window (because you don't have back fender wells either). So what should we do during these dreary months? Most of us just park the truck and bring it out when the sun shines, others tear 'em down and rebuild, while others just do some spring-cleaning in the winter.

Regardless of where you live, the off-season is a great time to get your truck ready to show. Of course, to most minitruckers it's not just about the trophies, it's about going to a show to meet up with old friends and make new ones. To a good majority of us though, the hunger to show is still there: It's evident when you see the numbers across the nation at some of our most prestigious shows. So what does it take to place at a show? What does it take to bring home the gold for the home team? Or maybe you just want the bragging rights, or want to clown the other guy with a blue Frontier from your town. Well, we decided to find out, so we went to our good friends from Forbidden Fantasy for some help.

Brian Goude, president of Forbidden Fantasy, aka FFF (don't ask about the third F, let's just say we're not allowed to print it), has been throwing one of the biggest shows in the country, that is run by a club, for 10 years now. So we asked Brian for the lowdown on how to take the coveted Best of Show Trophy home from his show and this is what he had to say:

"To take home the $15 trophy at a usual show you must accumulate points. A point is usually given for each modification done to your vehicle. Is this fair? Not always. But when you are dealing with more than 600 vehicles that need to be judged in a five-hour period, it's the most efficient way to weed out the great from the good. The downfall to this way of judging is that sometimes quality gets passed up by the guy who crashed his SUV into the cool-guy aisle at Pep Boys. Best of Show is not based on how many points you have, but by the quality of appearance of the vehicle. We look at the package, the way the vehicle came together and presents itself to set it apart from the field of show vehicles. It does not need crazy graphics, expensive suspension parts, or a Gucci interior. However, it does need quality bodywork, exceptional paint, lots of innovation, and a proportioned stance. Spending a lot of time in the garage cleaning, detailing, and making it shine is what we look for in Best of Show. If you want some ideas, go to a lowrider show and take notes. They have taken most of our Best of Show trophies home over the years."

So what we have learned from Brian's statement, besides the fact that Lolo's are taking our trophies, is that taking the time to clean and detail your ride is what really sets you apart. Brian also gave us his top-secret judging sheet, so we can see how the point breakdown occurs. The sheet is broken down into five basic categories and, from there, split into sub-categories. The major categories are: exterior, body mods, interior, engine, and undercarriage.

EXTERIOR
When a judge is looking at the exterior, they're going to be looking at several things. First and foremost, they're going to be looking at the cleanliness of your truck. So, if you haven't washed your truck in two weeks, but just pulled it into the show and used some quick detail on it, chances are, you're not going to be impressing anybody. Second, they're going to be looking at your paint. Is it single color? Does it have graphics or a mural? And again, how clean is it? Last on the exterior is something that may make or break your truck: the wheels. If they're polished, they should have been hand polished-most likely before you got to the show. If they're chrome, then you can probably get away with cleaning them at the show. With chrome wheels it's always important to clean the inside lip of the rims too. That is something that's always overlooked, but just that small detail will give the rim a deep shine and a cleaner look.

BODY MODS
Body mods can be performed during those winter months. Of course, laying mud down in 30 degree weather isn't always fun, but think of how warm you'll get with that workout. When we talk about body mods, we're talking about two different kinds of body mods as far as most judges are concerned. There are major body mods, and there are minor body mods. A major body mod is a chop top, a body-drop, suicide doors or a convertible top. Minor body mods are roll pans, shaved handles or any other miscellaneous little shave jobs. Just because you have an arsenal of body mods doesn't mean you're going to sweep the competition either. Chances are, you're only going to get about 10 points maximum for it (as it is with the FFF judging sheet). It also depends on how clean you did the work. If your shaved handles look more like ghost handles, then you're probably not going to get points for them. If your roll pan looks like you were trying to get there by removing the parking blocks on the way in, it's doubtful you'll get points for that either.

INTERIOR
The interior is something that is almost always overlooked. Have you ever walked around at a show and seen cigarette butts on the floor of a truck or coke stains in the center console? Chances are, that guy isn't taking home a trophy that day. In order to impress the judges, you're going to need some stereo equipment, maybe some TVs, a DVD player-having them installed professionally is a plus. If you've got the time, then spend some quality hours to get those craftsmanship points that a lot of people are not going to get with a house speaker behind the seat. Since we drive trucks, the bed is sometimes also considered interior, as is the case with the FFF sheet. So, putting in a carpet kit you made or adding a hot tub can be a plus. Yes, I said a hot tub. After all, I've been known to be a little old-school on occasion.

ENGINE BAY
The engine bay is one area most guys would rather not even hear about. It can be easily overlooked. Not too many guys have the means to drop a small block Chevy into the engine bay, or spend a few thousand dollars on chroming. But after all, if you want to bring home the plastic, you're going to have to spend the green.
So what can be done to spruce up the engine? Well that could be a whole story in itself. For today's sake, we'll go over a few things we can do. Powdercoating is a good and effective way of bringing in some color. The tried-and-true method to impress the judges, of course, is to chrome the hell out of everything in sight. The slow, show season is a good time to pull the engine and take it apart for chroming. If you're rolling an old-school truck, that would also be the best time to fix those pesky leaks that have been staining your grandma's driveway when you go visit over the weekend. Cleanliness is the name of the game.

UNDERCARRIAGE
Last, but not least: the undercarriage. Most minitruckers are really into the undercarriage of not only their ride, but of the competition's too. How clean is the frame? Is it sub-framed or is it just notched? If it's clean, it's going to be a lot more impressive. And, it's not only going to help you score a trophy, it's going to help you get noticed as well. Powdercoating some parts is always a good idea. Spray-painting isn't going to hold up too long, but chances are, it will look pretty good for the first few shows. When you take the parts from the engine to the chrome shop, send your four-link bars along with it, and your control arms, as well. The judges will most likely be looking to see what kind of suspension you have and if the quality is good. So, when you have some time in the garage, it would be a good idea to move that air line that's always hitting your exhaust and leaking. Or, cover up those ugly gas lines that you thought would be a good idea to run next to your drive shaft. I know, 'cause we've all been there.

As you can see, it's not just about how clean your paint is, it's a package deal. You may not have time during the off-season to hit up every section, but hitting one or two of them is definitely going to get you that extra attention and points at a show. It also helps to make time to set up your truck so that it is properly displayed and clean while at the show. There was a time when minitruck shows were packed with vehicles with full displays. Nowadays you'll see one or two. Let's not forget, as minitruckers, we're not all about trophies. But, we do want to look good while making new friends, or stomping the competition. Let's not let the lowriders and the import guys take all of the trophies. After all, we're a proud bunch, so let's go out and prove it.

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