If you wandered through the rows of custom show trucks in the “J” Lot at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville last week, you most likely stopped to checkout a slick black 1980 Kenworth W9A. It was parked next to a brown 1984 Peterbilt 359 with classic “heartbeat” striping.
Both trucks are owned and were shown by Chris Kikelhan, an big, affable guy whose East Coast swagger is part of the A & E cable TV hit Shipping Wars, which debuts new episodes on a new night, Wednesday, April 1 10 p.m. Eastern, 9 p.m. Central.
Kikelhan, when not being a TV star, lives in Quakertown, Pa. and hauls mostly stage sets and specialized lighting for theater productions and concerts. He runs 14 trucks up and down the East Coast, with many trips into New York City, and for the past four years has made a special trip to Washington, D.C. with a delivery to the White House Easter Egg Roll.
On Shipping Wars, Kikelhan drives a showy white Kenworth T-600 with orange flames. In the episode that aired March 3, he used that truck to haul a 1940 duck boat — an amphibious military landing craft — from California to Michigan. (The punchline to that episode was when Kikelhan had to use the duck boat owner’s 1925 GMC tow truck to finish positioning his cargo.)
Kikelhan says he heard the production company behind Shipping Wars was looking for another character to be part of the show that pits drivers/teams against one another to haul strange and/or outsized cargo. He says he did a phone interview and another by Skype. A film crew then did a shoot with him in New York City.
Kikelhan has three episodes shot for the current season and says he enjoys the work.
“It’s fun,” he says. “It’s good. I like it.”
Also at MATS was another Shipping Wars veteran, Marc Springer.
Shipping Wars, on which the drivers which uses uShip to bid for their loads, debuted in January of 2012 and has filmed fore than 100-episodes, a milestone for TV shows. It has spun off a version set in the United Kingdom.