Truck Country

This is a guest post courtesy of Michael A. Marrs, President, Texas Auto Writers Association

The State of Texas has been involved in Americana since the early settlers found an environment that changed from the swamp land through great open plains that led to the deserts of Mexico. Early on, residents of Texas wanted to be involved leading an emerging nation by declaring independence and taking a stand against Mexico that led to the Alamo and an independent Texas. After statehood, the Civil War also brought Texas into the mix, and following years of modern politics, four Presidents were either born or raised within the Lone Star state. And with 879 miles of IH10 concrete running from the east border swamps to the western border deserts, Texans are very interested in their automobiles. To the point, Texans are into their trucks, with the Lone Star State now being responsible for over 22% of pickup truck sales in this country.

With the growing interest in the segment, there was also growing demand for media material. The Texas Auto Writers Association, Inc. was founded in 1985 amid the growing desire by Texas automotive journalists to provide an opportunity for professional growth and development. This led to the concept of developing internal automotive events that could serve to provide interaction with manufacturers that the journalist might not otherwise have. The first event was the Texas Truck Rodeo held in 1992, moving since that time, around the state to areas such as Dallas/Ft. Worth, Granbury, Houston, and for the last several years Spring Branch, Texas, at the historic Knibbe Ranch. The property was originally established in 1852, and has been owned and operated by the same line of direct descendants for over 150 years, earning it the prestigious designation of being a Century Heritage Ranch.

From left to right: Jody Hall, Sue Mead, David Anderson, Michael Marrs

Jody Hall, Sue Mead, David Anderson, Michael Marrs at the 2014 Truck Rodeo

Regardless of where the event is held, the concept stays the same. Each fall, media members from across the nation meet with representatives from the manufacturers to evaluation the latest in SUVs, CUVs, and pickup trucks. It is a two day event during which media members are able to drive the categorized vehicles in a back-to-back manner over the same type of road surfaces, and even off-road surfaces for that type of vehicle. This is a unique opportunity for a journalist to literally drive one manufacturer’s vehicle and immediately get behind the wheel of a competitor in the same category so they can develop a real comparative feel. As the evaluations are in progress, the journalists are doing electronic input of their notes, then providing overall votes on what is good, better or best in each category, leading up to the prestigious Truck of Texas award.

The Truck of Texas award has gained significant prestige over the last few years, as the competition for the truck market has increased. Media outlets such as Consumer Reports and USA Today, regularly report the results from the event, with digital and social media outlets such as Yahoo! Auto and MSN Auto being represented as well.

Manufacturers often utilize the Truck of Texas award and the TAWA logo in their advertising and promotional material, with a recent Super Bowl commercial showcasing the award winner. With a significant portion of the truck market within the Lone Star state boundaries, the Texas Auto Writers Association continues to provide media members with an opportunity for professional growth, as well as have a little fun driving trucks.

About TAWA
The Texas Auto Writers Association, Inc., is a non-profit organization providing growth, development, and networking opportunities for media members, as well as providing scholarships for journalism majors in the State of Texas education system. 

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