Texas State Fare: Livestock, football and pickups

Larry Edsall
Special to The Detroit News

The Texas State Fair has all the usual attractions: rides, arcade games, fried food, including Fried Jello-O and State Fair Cookie Fries, big-name entertainment, livestock, arts & crafts, and even football. Three college games are scheduled at the Cotton Bowl, located within the 277-acre fairgrounds near downtown Dallas.

But wait, there’s more. The Texas State Fair, which runs through Oct. 23, hosts the largest new vehicle auto show in the Southwest. And while cars fill two large exhibition buildings, new pickups are the big attraction.

Texans buy lots of pickups, and those sales are so important that not only Detroit’s Big Three but Toyota, Nissan and Honda took part in a press preview last week in the Texas fair’s Truck Zone, an out-of-doors showcase of pickups.

“This is really the capital of the truck world,” said Jim Morrison, head of FCA’s Ram truck brand. “You need a truck (just) to fit in.”

The Texas market is so important, Morrison said, that Ram waited until the fair to unveil its Ram Rebel TRX concept truck, which can carry you across the plains of west Texas at speeds of more than 100 mph. Ram also showcased its new Ram Lonestar Silver Edition, which will be sold only in Texas.

Nissan showed a new Texas-edition of its Titan.

Doug Scott, truck group marketing manager at Ford, which displayed its new second-generation Raptor, called Texas “our second home and our biggest (truck) market.” He said 17 percent — nearly one in five — of all F-150s are sold in Texas.

Toyota opened a truck assembly plant in San Antonio in 2002 and is building its new North American corporate headquarters between Dallas and Fort Worth.

General Motors unveiled the next-generation Duramax diesel engine, which will power the heavy-duty versions of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra for the 2017 model year. The 6.6-liter L5P V-8 turbo-diesel pumps out 445 horsepower and 910 pound-feet of torque, yet produces 35 percent fewer emissions and is 30 percent quieter at idle in GM Powertrain testing.

To showcase the new engine and the 2017 Silverado HD, Chevrolet arrived a day early, rented the Texas Motor Speedway and won Guinness World Record recognition for towing the largest flag behind a pickup. Actually, there were two flags, each 40 x 80 feet — an American flag set the record and then was joined by a parade that included the Lone Star flag bringing up the rear.

In between were the first Chevrolet Truck Legends, some two dozen qualifying customers in their personal trucks.

The Chevrolet Truck Legends program debuted last week at the Texas State Fair and will be expanded nationally in 2017. To qualify, a person must have at least 100,000 miles on his or her Chevy pickup or have owned multiple Chevy trucks. Legends receive a hat, decals and a variety of special offers and opportunities, such as being the first to drive the 2017 Silverado HD, which the Texas Legends got to do before leaving the race track.

For information on the Chevy Truck Legends, visit chevytrucklegends.com.

Oh, and the automakers will all be back in Texas in a couple of weeks to participate in the Texas Truck Rodeo, a competitive event staged by the Texas Auto Writers Association to determine the 2017 Truck of Texas award.

Larry Edsall is a Phoenix-based freelance writer. You can reach him at ledsall@cox.net.