More than 600 enthusiasts were invited to demos like the ZR2 "course" which includes a 17-foot-high steel ramp and articulation, where some seemed to forget there is low-range gearing available and still half a truck behind their helmet. You could tow a trailer around inside the facility, drive a street course outside the oval, run into Jamie McMurry and Kasey Kahne, ride along on an oval hot lap in a Corvette or Camaro ZL-1, and indulge in viewing near-perfect heritage specimens from 1926 to current concepts.
We sampled a few that included the last 2007 2500HD built, which began the day with fewer than 70 miles, and an early 70's C-series that captured our attention with its "DISC BRAKES" badge on the tailgate. We also did some autocrossing in Pro Touring trucks with minimal ground clearance, very lightly muffled LS3 or small-block power and curb weights around 3,000 pounds. Makes a new Colorado or that aluminum pickup seem downright pudgy.
When asked of their favorite Chevy pickups or what they'd put in a personal collection, no one said SS454, K5 Blazer, El Camino, SSR or some other limited edition. Showing how trucks are members of the family, the most common response was the first one they owned — which ran the gamut from 1946 to 2010 — one that got away, or their current truck. With nary a Ford or Ram evident and only a few GMC interlopers, the masses were quite friendly.
Once registered online the program required only email and name, so it's no guarantee the 768,000 miles on one enthusiast's truck was the highest mileage attending, or that someone drove further than the Canadian plate believed from the Toronto area. But by far the most famous person there was Dale Earnhardt Jr.
In his spotless black-and-silver 1989 S-10 regular cab, Jr. drove on stage to join Chevy boss Alan Batey in front of a group of Chevy trucks arrayed to form "100" on the infield. Junior's old green '48 was out there, and at least one fan's red crew cab dually sporting #3 and #8 flags. Batey and Earnhardt discussed his racing career, service technician background, the broadcasting booth he's "really nervous" about, and any future racing exploits. To say thanks for his racing efforts Chevy presented him the hood from a ZL1 pace car, "autographed" with all the comments people made to describe him.
As a helicopter noise wound up in the clouds locals assumed it was something from the Bell helicopter plant not 30 miles away. But this was a big Sikorsky emblazoned with a Chevy logo, lifting a 2019 Silverado over the Big Hoss screen that dominates Texas' backstretch, then dropping it onto the tarmac where it was swiftly driven on stage.
New from the ground up, the 2019 Silverado was developed with feedback from 7,000 customers and experience building 85 million pickups. It was displayed in new LT Trailboss trim, essentially Z71-grade with a factory two-inch suspension lift. Batey went out of his way to emphasize the higher-grade alloy in the roll-formed high-strength steel bed floor, and that there would be a greater variety of powertrains and models, but no more specifics. When a Legend owner hollered, "And I want it," Batey said he'd be happy to take that order.
Then the smiling fans hit their own trucks for a parade lap on the oval. You'd think someone would have called it a victory lap, but nooo...