This issue marks the third time we've asked those who write for Mini Truckin' in any capacity to help us determine the trucks, clubs, and shows from the past year that have made the biggest impact on the mini-truckin' scene. Every year we've done this, we've had an incredibly good response from our readers, as they tear through the issues from the prior year to get a renewed feel for the shows and trucks that made up the best times and rides of the year. But what the people who don't get voted for and don't win a trophy or get some sort of recognition?

Obviously, some trucks, clubs, and shows aren't voted for. That doesn't mean, though, that those shows weren't a blast to go to, the trucks weren't top-notch, and the clubs aren't just as deserving of recognition. I decided to write my column this month about the unsung heroes who keep our pastime alive and kicking show season after show season, year after year. These are the people who, no matter what happens, are always there to make sure you as an enthusiast have a good time, are judged fairly, and see the best rides out there. These are the people who keep themselves busy by going weekend after weekend to every truck show so they don't miss any of the action. These are also people who build trucks for themselves, not a magazine or anyone else. They build some of the most thought-provoking rides you'll see all year, and many times, have worked so hard to progress to the point they're at that they aren't able to finish the truck before the show season begins. Instead of parking the project in a garage, or hiding it so no one figures out what they've been up to, they do the best thing for everyone: They show the crap out of it and let everyone see the fruits of their labors thus far.

Here's to the enthusiasts who wish to finish their trucks but have to spend every dime to make ends meet, feed and house a family, and make life work. For those people, I have nothing but respect. It's because of those enthusiasts who have a dream they'll never allow to die that we keep putting out this magazine. It's for people who, after years of not building a custom truck, make a comeback and build something unlike anything the world has ever seen. Why do they come back? Because they can finally afford to finish what they started and get it done in a reasonable amount of time. Most of the time, we find that it's not the first-time truck builder blowing everyone away his first time out of the gate with a new custom buildup. It's the seasoned veterans who have either slowly been working on their trucks for years, or are finally able to get back into the swing of things after some time away from the pastime. This makes us all do a double-take when we see that which they have created with their own hands and the help of their closest friends.

I've always thought of show trophies as nice bits to put up to commemorate the winning of a show attended, but I've never thought that the only reason to go to a show was to win one. In my opinion, just because one person or group of judges think you deserved a bit of plastic and marble for the way your truck looks isn't any reason at all to attend a show. There's just way more to going to shows than the possibility of winning a trophy. That's because going to shows is an extremely social thing for mini-truckers. We tend to enjoy our friendships with others to the fullest, and even more so at shows.

So, despite the fact that we're recognizing what we considered the best truck, club, and show of 2004 in this issue, it doesn't mean that every single person's contribution to the pastime we know as mini-truckin' isn't just as important. Just because you're in a big truck club everyone knows the name and Web site of doesn't mean your club is more rewarding than the next. It may take years for you to be satisfied with the work on your truck because your buddy is doing all the welding and bodywork and can only come over one night every other week; that doesn't mean that you and your buddy are any less of friends.

Remember, one thing transcends our pastime no matter who you happen to be, what club you're in, or what you're working on as a project. That thing is friendship. We all have them and wouldn't trade anything for them. They're what make the whole mess worth doing year after year. Our friendships are what keep us going when we fall down on our faces and can't seem to think of how to get back up. Our friends are the ones who pick us back up and show us that things are never as bad as they could be. Our friends are the ones who are there to help us in time of need and congratulate us when we finally arrive at any destination in life that we feel it is a milestone. Celebrate your friends; they're the ones who will be there for you long after your truck has lost its newness, and even longer than the steel its made from will remain flawless. Enjoy this month's issue. L8R!