International Truck Stop – Mega truck extravaganza at Assen!

In International Truck Stop9 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineOctober 23, 2018

Since 1981 Dutch magazine Truckstar has hosted the largest truck show in Europe, the annual Truckstar Festival. This year saw 2300 trucks turn up to what is a ‘bucket-list‘ event for any Euro truck buff! 

Photo: From left to right, the top three in the special trucks category; van Wijk 144L 530 live eel transporter, Van den Brink S450, and Patrick van den Hoeven Scania R520.

Originally the Truckstar Festival was held close to The Hague on the North Sea coast, but the TT Circuit Assen in the north of Holland has hosted the event since 1992. This year there were 2300 trucks present, about 500 in the paddock area and 1,700 lined up side by side around the 4.5km TT Circuit Assen. According to Bert Mateboer from Truckstar magazine, the event takes a year to organise.

The Dutch public really embrace this festival and it ‘s customary for families to congregate along the motorways close to the circuit, greeting the trucks as they arrive on Friday evening. While travelling north along the A50 we encountered a 70-truck heavy haulage convoy, which had been organised by trailer manufacturer Broshuis. The company laid on a BBQ at their premises on Friday evening where the trucks congregated before being escorted the final 9 km to Assen. To call the Truckstar Festival the holy grail of European truck shows is no overstatement, borne out by the fact that truckers travel from Belgium, Germany, Finland, France, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Britain and Ireland. The furthest travelled was Paul Patounas of Greece who travelled 2500km in his Scania 141, which regularly entertained V8 nuts by billowing black smoke from either the side pipes or upright exhausts. European cabovers were naturally the order of the day and loyalty to the home-grown DAF brand was evident. Volvo and Scania rounded out the top three brands, while Mercedes, Renault and an occasional IVECO and MAN were also sprinkled around. A line-up of about 10 American trucks was on show, which included Macks, Freightliners and a Peterbilt. Lesser-known makes such as Dutch FTF, Kromhout, and the German Hanomag Henschel could be viewed in the classic truck section.

Walking around the track for your first time is an experience to behold, especially when you see first-hand how the Dutch do truck shows; lots will have their own bar area, everything from a few pallets stacked together or a full indoor tent, to a converted Scania Topline cab featuring beer taps in place of a dashboard. While country music is all the rage at truck shows elsewhere, the Dutch favour their own brand of techno, often played by DJs set up in the back of a curtainside unit with proper sound systems, amusingly entertaining their colleagues who are dancing out on the track. When they need a break from partying, they can cool off in the DIY swimming pools, including everything from paddling pools and truck bodies lined with polythene, to cut down tankers and even wood-burning jacuzzis! In true Dutch fashion, the atmosphere is extremely laid back, and even with the enthusiastic alcoholic consumption, there was never any trouble.

Photo: Hoogendoorn are previous winners at Assen and always present a great fleet.

Things are naturally a lot more civilised around the classic truck area, where the cobble block paddock area lends itself perfectly to the top class trucks, especially as night falls and the light shows takes place, adding an extra dimension to the atmosphere.

Aside from viewing the trucks there are plenty of events taking place out on the main start finish straight, such as truck racing and the distinctly unique Truckstar tradition of towing caravans behind trucks, with the objective of inflicting as much damage as possible to the hapless two-wheeled homes. There are various different prize categories to enter including refrigerated, curtainside, open trailer, sea container, tipper/walking floor, bulk tank, special trailers and tractor units.

The top three in each of these categories have already been chosen before the show but the final winners are only announced once they drive out onto the track. After the trophies have been awarded, the trucks take part in a photo shoot by the media before doing a U-turn on the track, which had been sprayed with water to protect it from the heat. There is also a decibel contest for the loudest truck, an overall best of show truck, but undoubtedly the most coveted prize is the ‘Mooiste Truck van Nederlan‘ i.e. the most beautiful Dutch truck of the 24 entrants who qualified for the final.

Photo: Unsurprisingly DAF had a major presence at the show. Here a gorgeous XF105 run by Pascal de Jong Transport. The sooner they get here… 

Weeda Transport took the top prize and the celebrations by Stephan Van Spronsen and the Weeda team really demonstrated how serious these guys take their passion. All of the major manufactures had impressive stands on display. Almost 1 million Volvo FHs have been sold worldwide and to celebrate a quarter of a century, Volvo have launched the FH 25-year special edition which is available in a choice Actros 2663 owned by Auvinen came all the way from Finland and was unlike anything else at the show.

of grey Mammoth-Tree, or red Crimson-Pearl. They feature unique carpet, seats and door detailing. Customers have a choice of either the 13 or 16-litre engines and either the standard Globetrotter or the Globetrotter XL cabs. All of the manufacturers were offering complimentary food and beverages (including beer of course!), with manufacturers such as IVECO keeping things Italian by offering pizza. When the trucks begin to depart an even bigger crowd turns out to bid farewell. Along all motorway service areas and overpasses, people gather to salute the truckers of Holland as they make their way home. Seeing this level of enthusiasm and support from the general public for an often-maligned industry is truly heart-warming.

Photo: Weeda Transport took the top prize for the show, the ‘Mooiste Truck van Nederlan‘ – the most beautiful Dutch truck. There were 24 entrants who qualified for the final.

Photo: Schoones Transport took the top prize in the open trailer class with this impressive Volvo FH16 and Nooteboom trailer.

Photo: Actros 2663 owned by Auvinen came all the way from Finland and was unlike anything else at the show.