SEMA Member News - November/December 2010
LTAA Expands SEMA Show Booth
One of the five vehicles on display in the LTAA booth in South Hall at this year’s SEMA Show will not only showcase LTAA member-company products to attendees, but will be taking those same products to primetime television on the hit show “Storm Chasers,” which appears on the Discovery Channel.
The Light Truck Accessory Alliance (LTAA) will have an expanded presence in South Hall for the 2010 SEMA Show, with five trucks on display to showcase more LTAA member products than ever before.
“We typically have three trucks in our booth,” said LTAA Chairman Kelly Kneifl of TruXedo. “The display provides our member companies with an opportunity to show off their products on ‘live’ trucks at the SEMA Show. In addition, each company donates $1,000 to Victory Junction Gang Camp on behalf of LTAA in exchange for the display space. This year, we had five companies come to us almost simultaneously asking for spots in the booth, without a single solicitation. ConvExx and SEMA were gracious enough to expand our booth space to accommodate two more vehicles, and we can’t thank them enough.”
In addition to expanded floor space and more display vehicles, LTAA has redesigned its booth to provide more meeting space for members and potential members. The booth will be staffed by Select Committee members who will be more than happy to discuss the benefits of SEMA and LTAA memberships.
Hellwig, Hella, TAG and Rolling Big Power/Rize Industries will sponsor trucks in the LTAA booth this year along with A.R.E., which built the truck featured in this month’s SEMA Member News.
A.R.E. Creates Tornado-Tough Project Truck for Hit TV Show “Storm Chasers”
One of the five vehicles on display in the LTAA booth in South Hall at this year’s SEMA Show will not only showcase LTAA member-company products to attendees but will be taking those same products to primetime television on the hit show “Storm Chasers,” which appears on the Discovery Channel.
To travel through 100-mph winds and softball-size hail, tornado chaser Tim Samaras, star of the show, needed a dependable truck that he could drive into the eye of the storm. He turned to leading truck cap manufacturer and LTAA-member company A.R.E. to help him create the ultimate tornado-chasing vehicle: The A.R.E. TWISTEX Probe.
The TWISTEX Probe is an ’08 GMC Sierra 3500 outfitted with A.R.E.’s Deluxe Commercial Unit (DCU) series truck cap and numerous LTAA member-company accessories designed to increase the vehicle’s functionality in severe weather. Samaras is the principal investigator for TWISTEX, a Tactical Weather Instrumented Sampling Tornadoes Experiment team that measures wind speed, direction, temperature and other variables to help meteorologists understand why twisters form and how they become so powerful. The team obtains these measurements by getting near the tornado itself.
“I started scientific storm chasing about 10 years ago when I developed the next generation of tornado probes that our team deploys into the path of oncoming tornados,” Samaras said. “Because these instruments weigh more than 400 lbs. each and measure about 3 ft. high when stored, a traditional truck cap wouldn’t work. We needed a durable shell that could keep this equipment safe, so we enlisted the help of A.R.E., which manufactured a 44-in.-tall truck cap specifically for our needs.”
Year Founded: 1969
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A.R.E. also retrofitted the DCU truck cap with side toolboxes to fit Samaras’ smaller probes and customized it to accommodate a 1,500-lb.Tommy Gate Lift Gate on the rear of the truck. Manufactured from .035 aluminum, the DCU features Strattec lock cylinders in folding T-handles on all doors for added security as well as Suspa gas props on all doors.
“We are very excited to partner with Samaras to develop a rugged, highly efficient truck that his team can use to chase tornados across the Midwest,” said Bryan Baker, director of marketing for A.R.E. and an LTAA Select Committee member. “The TWISTEX Probe and our Deluxe Commercial Unit truck cap have been completely coated with Line-X Spray-On Protectant to shield it from intense weather and hail damage.”
In addition to the cap and spray-on liner, a variety of accessories from other LTAA-member companies have been added to enhance the truck’s overall functionality, including Pilot Automotive aluminum floor mats, Jotto Desk laptop holders and accessories, a Hellwig Products suspension system, a Warn Industries Power Plant HD with winch, an air compressor and a grille guard, Luverne Grip Step side-entry steps, a back-up camera and an LCD monitor from SPAL USA, Goodyear Silent Armour tires and auxiliary lighting from Hella Automotive Lighting.
A.R.E. dealer Suburban Toppers in Denver, Colorado, installed the truck cap for Samaras, while Line-X of South Metro in Littleton, Colorado, provided the spray-on liner application. Mastercraft Truck Equipment of Englewood, Colorado, installed the Tommy Gate and other equipment.
Samaras is currently using the A.R.E. TWISTEX Probe on tornado-chasing missions from the team’s home base in Colorado all the way to Texas, Indiana and even Canada, covering nearly 30,000 miles in two months. Footage from these trips will be featured in season four of “Storm Chasers,” which premieres this fall. Tim Samaras will be in the LTAA booth #36095 signing autographs on Wednesday, November 3, from 9:30 a.m.–12:00 p.m.