LAKE GEORGE — Some of the most powerful vehicles cruising on the nation’s highways pulled into Lake George this weekend, and both their beauty and brawn wowed a crowd of tourists and residents.
The Empire State Towing & Recovery Association’s 34th annual “Tow Show” was held June 3-4 in Lake George’s Festival Commons, and the show hosted a half-dozen massive heavy-duty recovery tow trucks as well as conventional versions.
Equipped with booms 35 feet in length or higher and up to 22 wheels, these sow trucks have 65- to 75-ton capacities and can pick up an overturned 18-wheeler and put it back upright.
Such metallic muscle wasn’t all that impressed the gathered tow truck drivers and the public this weekend. It was also the chrome, custom paint jobs and decorative lighting as well as the impressive hulk and hydraulics.
ESTRA Tow Show’s annual “Beauty Contest” awarded prizes to towing operators in various categories, including the big rigs’ exterior and interior appearance as well as engine detailing as well as lighting arrays. Huge recovery trucks worth up to $800,000 were entered in the show.
Named Grand Champion in the beauty contest was a fully restored 1940 GMC tow truck with original rigging owned by 87-year-old Joe Lomanto of Clinton Collision. Lomanto started out towing vehicles in the mid-1950s using merely a chain and a hand-winch and now his firm operates a fleet of trucks based in Clinton New York including massive recovery vehicles.
About three dozen other trucks were entered in the tow truck beauty show. Lomanto took home three first-prize trophies for his entries.
Tow truck operators — and their vehicles — from Maine to Pennsylvania attended this annual convention of towing and recovery personnel, ESTRA’s president Tom Brennan said.
The tow show featured activities and attributes for tow truck drivers like seminars on effective towing techniques, networking opportunities, and exhibits by recovery vehicle and towing equipment vendors.
The tow show’s return to Lake George after several years of being held in Queensbury is a welcome change, Brennan said, noting that Mayor Bob Blais convinced his organization to come back to Lake George this year.
“Our association members enjoy Lake George’s downtown atmosphere — it’s shops, arcades, lake views — and its night life,” he said.
Brennan added that village’s shop owners and residents are friendly and welcoming.
“Lake George has always been a receptive place for us,” he said, noting that a local boy was the winner in a recent year’s raffle of a tool box complete with tools worth about $10,000.
He said Tuesday that the tow show attracted 5 to 6 thousand people, and his association is looking forward to returning next year.
“We had great, great response this year,” he said. “After the show concluded, our Facebook page lit up — we got about 8,000 views.”