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  • Friday, December 03, 2021 12:17 PM | Amy Plemons (Administrator)

    In 2007, the Texas Auto Writers Association launched the Excellence in Craft Competition with the goal of recognizing and encouraging excellence in automotive journalism. In tandem, the Texas Truck Invitational competition invites TAWA members, along with non-members worldwide, to enter their works in exclusive truck-writing categories.

    Once again, the competition was high quality and fierce. A big thanks to all of our judges for spending time reading, watching, and listening to all of this great work: Stan Hulen, Christian Waits, Ivan Galven, Jaime Florez, Steven Cole Smith, Harvey Briggs, Jason Fogelson, Brian Armstead, Carrie Kim, Jared Rosenholtz, and Chris Teague. 

    TEXAS AUTO WRITERS EXCELLENCE IN CRAFT COMPETITION

    Writing: Feature category

    For 3rd place, it’s Mercedes Lilienthal in Tread magazine with: “Bad-Ass Bandoola: a 1953 Willys M38A1 Beast”. Although the stock 1953 Willys stayed in the family for decades, a random transmission issue on a steep hillside and a plea from Ghiringhelli’s wife to "fix it" changed the vehicle forever. “Yes, dear,” he simply replied. Her ask to address the transmission issue turned the little M38A1 from a stock vineyard run-about to a massively customized off-road beast. After months of upgrades and changes to his Willys 4x4, his wife finally got what she wanted out of the deal—a new Mercedes-Benz SL550.

    2nd: Jordan Golson at Inverse with GMC tapped the guys behind Marvel’s coolest computer screens for the Hummer EV”.  Our judge said: “Jordan took a complex vehicle feature set, where he could've gone WAY into the weeds, and made it easy to read.” By the way, this post had great art on top of great writing.  

    In 1st place, Elizabeth Blackstock earned her spot with the compelling “François Cevert, Watkins Glen, And The Myths Of Dead Heroes” story at Jalopnik. With high scores across the board, our judges thought Elizabeth did an incredible job capturing this story. “Elizabeth has a way of getting into the lives of the people she covers and did so with an eye on making it all understandable and approachable,” one judge said. 

    Writing: Reviews

    In 3rd place, it’s “The Power to Surprise (Kia Telluride Review)” in Outdoorx4 magazine by Frank Ledwell. After spending a week in the Kia Telluride on both pavement and off-road in the Big Bend region of west Texas, Frank answers the question: is the Kia Telluride a competent overland vehicle? Our judge said, “Ledwell’s professional, yet personal approach to the Kia Telluride told me everything I wanted to know about the SUV in an engaging, informative way. Solid work.”

    In 2nd Elizabeth Blackstock impressed our judges with“Let The 2021 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody Stroke Your Ego Sky High” at Jalopnik. Elizabeth has a way of describing cars and situations in a way that makes you feel part of the story. This one about the high-horsepower Charger SRT Hellcat Widebody will get your pulse going. Judges said, “Ms. Blackstock captured the joy of excess horsepower in her article with a fresh voice and sparkling prose. A fun discovery and refreshing expert tone that made me want to ride along with her on her next vehicular adventure.”

    And in 1st place withStars vs. Space: Dueling Delicas of the 1980s and 1990s” it’s the dynamic duo of Mercedes Lillienthal and Andy Lillienthal in Tread magazine. If you’re curious about oddball vehicles, rad vans, or quirky four-wheel drives, then you may have heard of the right-hand-drive Japanese Domestic Market Mitsubishi Delica. If you don’t know anything about them nor have ever driven one, you’re not alone. Andy and Mercedes know their ins and outs specifically because they have owned them both and have traveled with them extensively on the tarmac and off the beaten path. “This was a deep dive into an obscure, yet delightful vehicle, told with obvious expertise and enthusiasm. It stoked my interest to find out more about the Delica — I’m hoping the authors will expand this article into a book,” our judge said. 

    RADIO

    In 2nd place, Harold Gunn and Wayne Cronin’s Texas Outdoor News show about T.J. Tennent, a forensic tire expert working with the tire industry, police departments, and the legal profession. “Great content, amazing guest, lots of knowledge, interesting topic,” our judges said. 

    Winning 1st place is Jerry Reynolds, Sr, of CarProUSA. Jerry hosted a story called “Sweet Carol” about a WBAP caller named Carol, a nurse who needed help and had purchased a car from Jerry’s late son. Our judges said, “Original story, very human, personal and well taken care of. Informative and useful.” 

    PODCAST

    Placing 3rd, Michael Marrs, In Wheel Time covered “The Chip Shortage: a look from a different perspective.” Our judges liked the timeliness and newsworthiness of this show, commenting that it’s good background on the chip shortage and the various elements that make up chip production. 

    In 2nd, Cory Fourniquet and Matt Thorsen of GT Garage Talk’s show “Women in the Industry and Tech School”. The judges loved this, saying it was a superb interview. 

    And congratulations to Cory Fourniquet and Matt Thorsen of GT Garage Talk, who took 1st place with their show called. “World Travel, Off-Road Accolades and Beef Jerky”. This entry received a near-perfect score across the board. The judges said: “A look into the life and experiences of an industry legend, Sue Mead. Excellent program!”

    VIDEO

    In 3rd place, Jennifer Jensen impressed with her video on the Ram TRX. With this review, Jennifer challenged the Ram TRX in all of its glory, and this video fully encompasses all of the capabilities of its unique and exciting offering in an entertaining fashion.

    The Fast Lane Truck with Nathan Adlen, Tommy Mica, and Roman Mica earned a top spot in 2nd place with their “Bronco vs Wrangler vs Defender” video.  This segment tested the off-road capability of the brand new 2021 Ford Bronco against two of its direct rivals: the Jeep Wrangler 4xe and the Land Rover Defender. This three-way shootout has some exciting moments and unexpected turns as they drove all three up a steep Rocky Mountain trail.

    And in 1st place, Raiti’s Rides with Joe and Lori Raiti and their video about the incredible Cadillac CT4 Blackwing. The judges appreciated the overall production quality, Joe’s enthusiasm, and depth of knowledge. Well done! 

    With Honorable Mentions, we’d like to recognize Amy Plemons of CarProUSA and Tim Esterdahl and Jill Ciminillo with Pickup Truck + SUV Talk

    PHOTOGRAPHY

    In 3rd, Jordan Golson with a gorgeous sunset photo of a Land Rover Defender. You can find it on his Instagram channel

    Sean Tajipour captured a vibrant photo of the Ram TRX at the Texas Truck Rodeo for 2nd place. Truly beautiful. 

    And in 1st place, Jennifer Jensen took a photo of a Ferrari for Auto Exotica that is a work of art. Really good job. 

    SOCIAL MEDIA

    In 2nd place in a tie it’s Michael Satterfield of The Gentleman Racer with his First Drive coverage of the Chevrolet Trail Boss Custom. His broad reach, from Instagram to Facebook to Pinterest – and gorgeous photography catches the eye. 

    And the other 2nd place winner in a tie is Joe and Lori Raiti of Raiti’s Rides, who earned a spot with their coverage of the CT5-V Blackwing. It all began when Joe and Lori were given 10 minutes to capture whatever they could on video at a secret preview in Daytona for V club members. They were able to track down the Blackwings again at Barrett-Jackson in Scottsdale in the thick of the pandemic and get inside for a walk around, and then again at the media launch for the Blackwing. The Raitis TikTok alone garnered 3.5 million and Instagram Reels video gathered 2 million views more.

    And finally with their coverage of the Alcan 5000 Rally, it’s Mercedes Lilienthal, Andy Lilienthal in 1st place. Who would've ever traveled to the Arctic Ocean in the dead of winter with an old right-hand-drive diesel-powered Mitsubishi Pajero? How about doing that while competing in a major 10-day Arctic road rally that required 30 tanks of diesel and 7,230 miles total to get to, compete in, and get home? The Lilienthals did. They recapped three eventful days of the 2020 Alcan 5000 Rally on social media, including stories of ditch dives and -40 degree temperatures. They crossed the Arctic Circle four times in two countries in less than three days, drove 146 miles of ice roads, and completed ice racing on the Yukon River, conquering the Alcan 5000 Rally in their vintage Pajero in a challenging and unique way. 

    Honorable mention: Jill Ciminillo and her coverage of the Jeep Grand Cherokee L 

    Honorable mention: Cory Fourniquet and his social coverage of the Ford Bronco. 


    TEXAS TRUCK INVITATIONAL

    Writing: Reviews

    In 3rd place, it’s Jordan Golson with his review of the Land Rover Defender for The North State Journal. Judge’s note: The author recounts his own sad experience owning a Rover product, while pointing out that this is a different Land Rover from how the company operates today, turning out dependable products.

    Lyn Woodward took 2nd, writing about her test drive of the Nissan Frontier at the Rebelle Rally for Kelley Blue Book. 

    Judge’s note: The Frontier stars in an account of the seven-day, women-only Rebelle Rally that indeed puts the Nissan through its paces.

    1st:Eight Days in the Desert with a Rivian pickup” by Emme Hall. Judge’s note: This is a combination adventure story and test drive of an electric pickup truck from a relatively unknown manufacturer makes for a solid, informative read.

    Writing: Features

    In 3rd: “The Lightning is not the Model T” by David Boldt at TxGarage. Our judges said, “A New York Times story that insists the electric Ford Lightning is the Model T of this generation sent Boldt to the history books, making a case that the Times may well be mistaken.”

    2nd isTuSimple Trucking” by Jack Ferry, also at TxGarage. “An informative and forward-looking feature about an autonomous trucking company that suggests driverless 18-wheelers may be just around the corner,” judges said. 

    And in 1st place, “The Gambler 500” by Kathy Locke at Toyota Cruisers & Trucks. Judges said it was an entertaining and heartfelt account of her participation in the Gambler 500, a sort-of race that allows most anyone crazy enough to compete to have at it.

    And the overall winner of the Texas Truck Invitational and cash prize goes to:

    Overall Winner: Emme Hall for “Eight Days in the Desert with a Rivian pickup

    Thanks to everyone who submitted their work. We look forward to seeing next year’s entries! 


  • Tuesday, November 02, 2021 4:32 PM | Amy Plemons (Administrator)

    Dallas, TX– Nov. 2, 2021 – The Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA) is pleased to name the all-new 2022 Toyota Tundra as the 2022 Truck of Texas and the all-new 2022 Grand Wagoneer as the 2022 SUV of Texas, following the Texas Truck Rodeo held October 2021. 

    Winners were announced in a virtual awards ceremony in association with the Houston Auto Show on November 2, 2021. A formal awards ceremony will take place at the Houston Auto Show in January 2022.

    “At the Texas Truck Rodeo, we get to put dozens of vehicles through their paces both on- and off-road," said TAWA President Kristin Shaw. "At the end of the day, our members were duly impressed by the updates and technological advancements included in both the 2022 Tundra and the reborn Grand Wagoneer; both were equally capable on the road course and dirt circuit.” 

    More than 40 Texas Auto Writers Association journalists traveled to Star Hill Ranch outside Austin on October 4-5, to evaluate more than 50 vehicles on an upgraded off-roading course designed for the event. Sue Mead, an accomplished off-roading journalist and member of the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame, served as the 2021 Texas Truck Rodeo course director, overseeing course updates. Drivers had the opportunity to drive vehicles on-road as well.

    Members voted on the coveted Truck of Texas and SUV of Texas awards as well as eleven sub-categories including Full-Size Pickup Truck of Texas, Off-Road Pickup Truck of Texas, Luxury SUV of Texas, Mid-Size SUV of Texas and Compact SUV of Texas.  Vehicles are measured on their interior, exterior, value, performance and personal
    appeal. 

    “Our manufacturer members had the opportunity to speak with TAWA journalists and show them in person all of their newest vehicles and features,” said Shaw. “As a result, coverage from the event will be comprehensive and beneficial for both journalists and automakers.” 

    Additional awards were handed out for the Best Safety Feature or Driver Assist, Best Infotainment System and Best Powertrain.

    This year, the health and safety of all participants remained the top priority. Safety protocols that remained in place after being adopted in 2020 to address the pandemic included sanitizing vehicles between drives and hosting all meals and meetings outdoors.TAWA thanks our participating members, automakers, press fleets and sponsors for their support.


    TEXAS TRUCK RODEO WINNERS

    OVERALL AWARDS

    TRUCK of TEXAS
    2022 Toyota Tundra

    SUV of TEXAS
    2022 Grand Wagoneer

    CATEGORY AWARDS

    OFF-ROAD VEHICLE OF TEXAS
    2021 Ram 1500

    COMPACT SUV OF TEXAS
    2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

    MID-SIZE SUV OF TEXAS
    2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L

    FULL-SIZE SUV OF TEXAS
    2022 Wagoneer

    MID-SIZE LUXURY SUV OF TEXAS
    2022 Genesis GV70

    FULL-SIZE LUXURY SUV OF TEXAS
    2022 Grand Wagoneer Series III

    MID-SIZE PICKUP TRUCK OF TEXAS
    2022 Nissan Frontier

    FULL-SIZE PICKUP TRUCK OF TEXAS
    2022 Ram 1500

    HEAVY DUTY PICKUP TRUCK OF TEXAS
    2022 Ram 2500 Power Wagon

    LUXURY PICKUP TRUCK OF TEXAS
    2021 Ram 1500 TRX

    GREEN VEHICLE OF TEXAS
    2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe

    OPTIONAL AWARDS

    Best Safety Feature or Driver Assist
    Lexus Safety System+ 3.0

    Best Infotainment System
    UConnect 5

    Best Powertrain
    Ram 6.2-liter Supercharged HEMI V8


    PHOTOGRAPHY 

    All images are for editorial use only and should be credited to Kevin McCauley and capturingthemachine.com. Access 2022 Truck of Texas and 2022 SUV of Texas photos here.


    SPONSORS

    TAWA also wishes to thank all of our amazing sponsors for helping to make this year's event possible. Thank you to the Houston Auto Show, ZeroNox, and Katzkin.


    ABOUT AWARDS

    The Texas Auto Writers Association, Inc. was founded in 1987 by automotive journalists who wanted to provide an avenue for professional growth, development, and networking. These professionals sought to create an automotive event that was unique to Texas, and the result was the TAWA Truck Rodeo. Since 1993, Texas Truck Rodeos have been held in locations all over Texas; most recently, at Star Hill Ranch in Bee Cave, Texas.

    In 2003, TAWA created an event for sedans, sports cars, and other vehicles not eligible for the Truck Rodeo. The Texas Auto Roundup, as the event is called today, was most recently held in the spring of 2021.  For more information, visit www.texasautowriters.org.

    Media Contact: Amy Plemons, amplemons.tvproducer@gmail.com

  • Tuesday, September 14, 2021 2:35 PM | Amy Plemons (Administrator)

    2021 CALL FOR ENTRIES: BILL NEALE AUTOMOTIVE FINE ART AWARD INVITATIONAL

    September 14, 2021 - The Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA), in association with the Bill Neale family, is extremely pleased to announce a call for entries for its inaugural Bill Neale Automotive Fine Art Award Invitational. This award honors the world-renowned talent and legacy of automotive artistic icon Bill Neale. A longtime friend to TAWA, Neale passed away in January of 2021 at the age of 95. TAWA thanks the Bill Neale family for its support in developing this prestigious award. 

    The Bill Neale Automotive Fine Art Award recognizes and encourages excellence in automotive fine art. This award is an invitational and as such is open to both TAWA-members and non-TAWA members.

    • CALL FOR ENTRIES: Entries were accepted beginning Monday, September 13, 2021.Eligible entries for the 2021 competition include automotive fine art published from September 13, 2020 to December 1, 2021. 

    • ENTRY DEADLINE: 11:59 PM, Monday, December 1, 2021.

    • ENTRY FEE: No entry fee is required for the award's inaugural year.

    • WINNER NOTIFICATION, PRIZE: The Winning Artist will be notified by December 31, 2021. The Bill Neale Automotive Fine Art Award Recipient receives a prize valued at $200.

    For complete eligibility rules and requirements and to enter visit: https://www.texasautowriters.org/2021-Bill-Neale-Automotive-Award.

    For questions contact: VP of Communications Amy Plemons at amplemons.tvproducer@gmail.com


  • Wednesday, May 19, 2021 9:49 AM | Amy Plemons (Administrator)

    Houston, TX – May 19, 2021 –  The Texas Auto Writers Association is pleased to announce the award winners of the 2021 TAWA Texas Auto Roundup. The awards were announced in partnership with the Houston Summer Auto Show on May 19, 2021.

    Forty automotive journalists evaluated 35 vehicles at this year’s event held at the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth on April 19-20, 2021. TAWA members evaluated vehicles based on their interior, exterior, value, performance and personal appeal.  

    This year the main award categories were Family Vehicle of Texas, Performance Vehicle of Texas, Luxury Performance Vehicle of Texas and a newly elevated category of Green Vehicle of Texas. An additional nine category awards, two feature awards and four merit awards were also awarded.   

    “The Texas Auto Writers Association congratulates all of the title and category winners, and thanks all of our automotive members and partners for joining us at the 2021 Auto Roundup,” said TAWA President Kristin Shaw. “Everyone in attendance was happy to have the opportunity to drive and network at the Texas Motor Speedway.” 

    Like the 2020 Texas Truck Rodeo held last fall, the spring Auto Roundup was held amid strict health and safety protocols that included requiring face masks, sanitizing vehicles between drives and creating a two-wave event to limit the number of journalists present at one time. 

    The Chrysler Pacifica was named the Family Vehicle of Texas, its fifth consecutive win since the nameplate was reintroduced in 2016 as a 2017 model. The Auto Roundup was not held in 2020 due to the pandemic.

    Toyota and Lexus each took home an overall award. The Toyota Supra was named Performance Vehicle of Texas and the Lexus LC 500 took the Performance Luxury Vehicle of Texas crown.

    “A commitment to excellence in engineering, design and performance is something that both Toyota and Lexus takes to heart, and we are proud of these two vehicles for leading the pack and competition,” said Greg Thome, Senior Manager, TMNA Corporate Communications. “We are especially honored to receive this recognition here in our home state of Texas.”

    TAWA elevated the former Green Vehicle category to major award status, given the growth in electrified vehicles. The Green Vehicle of Texas award went to a newcomer, the new all-electric Volkswagen ID.4.

    “It’s a great honor that ID.4 has been named the Green Vehicle of Texas,” said Matthew Renna, vice president E-mobility and innovation, Volkswagen of America. “Having organizations like Texas Auto Writers Association educate the public on our brand’s electric future – and EVs in general – is valuable to the transition to electrification.”

    The Texas Auto Writers Association wishes to thank our generous sponsor Blink Charging for its support of this year’s event. TAWA also thanks our participating members, automakers and press fleets for their support of this event and vigilance in adhering to safety protocols. 

    "In what has been a challenging past year for the automotive industry, we applaud the continued efforts by automakers to continually enhance their lineups focusing on user-friendly design, technology and safety,” said Shaw. “In many respects, since the pandemic began, vehicles are more important than ever and those represented at the Auto Roundup are all deserving of applause. "

    OVERALL AWARDS

    • FAMILY VEHICLE OF TEXAS: Chrysler Pacifica

    • PERFORMANCE VEHICLE OF TEXAS: Toyota Supra

    • LUXURY PERFORMANCE VEHICLE OF TEXAS: Lexus LC 500

    • GREEN VEHICLE OF TEXAS:  Volkswagen ID.4

    CATEGORY AWARDS

    • BEST MINIVAN: Chrysler Pacifica

    • PERFORMANCE SEDAN: Dodge Charger

    • LUXURY CAR ($40,000-$65,000) Genesis G80

    • LUXURY CAR ($65,000-$100,000): Lexus LC 500

    • PERFORMANCE COUPE: Toyota Supra

    • MIDSIZE CAR: Volkswagen Arteon

    • COMPACT VEHICLE: Mazda3 Hatchback Turbo

    • MIDSIZE CUV: Nissan Rogue

    • LUXURY CUV: Genesis GV80

    FEATURE AWARDS

    • BEST NEW FEATURE: Chrysler FamCam

    • BEST NEW INTERIOR: Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle

    MERIT AWARDS (based on calculated points)

    • BEST VALUE: TIE

      • Dodge Challenger

      • Lexus IS 350

    • BEST INTERIOR: Lexus LC 500

    • BEST EXTERIOR: Lexus LC 500

    • HIGHEST PERSONAL APPEAL: Lexus LC 500

    About TAWA

    The Texas Auto Writers Association was founded in 1987 by automotive journalists who wanted to provide an avenue for professional growth, development, and networking. These professionals sought to create an automotive event that was unique to Texas, and the result was the TAWA Truck Rodeo. Since 1993, Truck Rodeos have been held in San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Granbury and Spring Branch, Dripping Springs and most recently at the Star Hill Ranch in Bee Cave, Texas.

    In 2003, TAWA created an event for sedans, sports cars, and other vehicles not eligible for the Truck Rodeo. The Texas Auto Roundup, as the event is called today, returned in 2021 after being cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic.  For more information, visit www.texasautowriters.org.

    Media Contact: Amy Plemons, amplemons.tvproducer@gmail.com

  • Thursday, November 05, 2020 4:10 PM | Amy Plemons (Administrator)

    Houston, TX – Nov. 5, 2020 –  The 2021 Ram 1500 is the new reigning Truck of Texas. The Ram 1500 was crowned the 2021 Truck of Texas by the Texas Auto Writers Association in a live virtual ceremony on November 5, 2020 in conjunction with the Houston Auto Show. The Texas Truck Rodeo digital awards presentation follows the 2020 Texas Truck Rodeo held in October. 

    "The SUV and truck market in Texas is strong, and narrow margins between the vehicles confirmed just how competitive this market is this year," said TAWA President Kristin Shaw. “TAWA was the first journalist group to drive Ram's new 1500 TRX and its impressive 702-hp 6.2L HEMI along with undeniable capability on and off road convinced our journalists to rank the Ram 1500 number one in the Truck of Texas category."   

    Twenty-seven TAWA members traveled to Star Hill Ranch outside Austin on October 5-6, 2020, to evaluate 39 trucks and SUVs on a new off-roading course designed for this year's event. Drivers also had the opportunity to drive the vehicles on-road as well. Vehicles are measured on their interior, exterior, value, performance and personal appeal.  

    The 2021 Dodge Durango took home the SUV of Texas crown. Other awardees include the 2020 Land Rover Defender 110SE as Luxury SUV of Texas and the 2021 Ram 1500 Limited Longhorn 10th Anniversary Edition as Luxury Pickup Truck of Texas. The 2021 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road took home the CUV of Texas title for a second consecutive year.

    "This year, we hosted 13 different brands at the Texas Truck Rodeo and welcomed Land Rover and Rolls-Royce back to the event. Both the Defender and the Cullinan were popular at the event and the former took home the Luxury SUV of Texas trophy," said Shaw. "Toyota's 2021 RAV4 TRD Off-Road retained its title of Compact SUV of Texas, the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon maintained its edge as top Off-Road SUV, and Hyundai's elegant Palisade Calligraphy earned top honors as Mid-Size SUV of Texas." 

    TAWA made program changes this year to address the pandemic. Safety protocols included requiring face masks, sanitizing vehicles between drives and creating a two-wave event to limit the number of journalists present at one time. 

    This year has brought a lot of challenges to the automotive industry, and we are grateful for the partnership of our journalist and OEM members to provide an opportunity to have access to vehicles, network, and create content that is vital to our livelihoods and shared passion," said Shaw. "Over the course of two days, journalists had an opportunity to drive more than three dozen vehicles and evaluate them thoroughly." 

    TAWA thanks our participating members, automakers and press fleets for their support.  TAWA also wishes to thank all of our amazing sponsors for helping to make this year's event possible. Thank you to the Houston Auto Show, Katzkin, Prestige Auto, JBL by Harman and the Austin Auto Show.    

    Texas Truck Rodeo Winners

    • Truck of Texas:  2021 Ram 1500  
    • SUV of Texas: 2021 Dodge Durango 
    • Luxury SUV: Land Rover Defender 110SE
    • Full-Size SUV 2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat
    • Mid-Size SUV: 2021 Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy 
    • Compact SUV: 2021 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road 
    • Off-Road SUV2021 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
    • Full-Size Pickup: 2021 Ram 1500 TRX 
    • Mid-Size Pickup: 2021 Jeep Gladiator Mojave
    • Off-Road Pickup: 2021 Ram 1500 TRX
    • Luxury Pickup: 2021 Ram 1500 Limited Longhorn 10th Anniversary Edition
    • Heavy Duty Pickup2020 Ram 2500 Heavy Duty Laramie Night Edition

    Additional Awards

    • Best Powertrain: FCA 6.2-liter Supercharged HEMI V8 
    • Best Infotainment: FCA UConnect
    • Best Safety or Driver Assist: Nissan ProPILOT Assist with Navi-link 
    • Best Towing Technology: Ram Heavy Duty 360-degree Surround View Camera 

    Texas Truck Rodeo Images

    All event photography provided by Kevin McCauley. Additional event images can be found here. All images are for editorial use only and should be credited to Kevin McCauley/ Capturing the Machine. For commercial use, please contact Kevin McCauley / capturingthemachine.com.

    About the Off-Road Course

    The 2020 Texas Truck Rodeo took place at Star Hill Ranch in Bee Cave, Texas, for the second consecutive year. Sue Mead, an accomplished off-roading journalist and member of the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame, was the 2020 Texas Truck Rodeo course director, overseeing the construction and design executed by Offcamber Design.

    About TAWA

    The Texas Auto Writers Association was founded in 1987 by automotive journalists who wanted to provide an avenue for professional growth, development, and networking. These professionals sought to create an automotive event that was unique to Texas, and the result was the TAWA Truck Rodeo. Since 1993, Truck Rodeos have been held in San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Granbury and Spring Branch, as well as Dripping Springs and for the past two years at the Star Hill Ranch in Bee Cave, Texas.

    In 2003, TAWA created an event for sedans, sports cars, and other vehicles not eligible for the Truck Rodeo. The Texas Auto Roundup, as the event is called today, was not held in 2020 due to the pandemic with plans to return in the spring of 2021.  For more information, visit www.texasautowriters.org.

    Media Contact: Amy Plemons, amplemons.tvproducer@gmail.com



  • Sunday, October 25, 2020 2:23 PM | Amy Plemons (Administrator)

    Texas Auto Writers Association Announces Excellence in Craft Competition Winners for 2020

    DALLAS (October 25, 2020) — Automotive journalists Kathy Locke, Mercedes Lilienthal, and The Fast Lane Truck team were among the top winners in the Texas Auto Writers Association’s 2020 journalism competition.

    The award winners, who were announced Thursday, October 22, 2020 via livestream, included writers, photographers, designers and online content creators from across the United States who entered TAWA’s two contests: the Excellence in Craft Competition, which is only open to TAWA members, and the Texas Truck Invitational, which is open to any journalist who covers the truck industry.  

    “This year’s TAWA Excellence in Craft Competition saw a record number of entries across the board,” said Aaron Starnes, TAWA board member and chair of the award programs. “Mercedes Lilienthal earned first place in the highly competitive writing segment for both the magazine and newspaper categories. Kathy Locke was a first-time winner of the Texas Truck Invitational Writing competition with her story about the Rebelle Rally. And ‘The Fast Lane Car’ and ‘The Fast Lane Truck’ entries took first and third in the video category.” 

    Starnes said the panel of judges for the TAWA Excellence in Craft Competition are at the top of their fields, including John Pearley Huffman, Harvey Briggs, Steven Cole Smith, Stan Hulen, Chris Waits, Ivan Galvan, and Jaime Florez.

    TEXAS TRUCK INVITATIONAL


    NEWSPAPER WRITING

    1st: Teia Collier, Dallas Single Mom, “First Drive: 2019 Ford Ranger Supercrew XL 4x4

    2nd: Jason Fogelson, Forbes.com, “2019 Lexus GX460 Luxury Test Drive and Review: Dream On

    3rd: Derek Price, Cargazing, “Italian Practicality Cranked Up


    MAGAZINE WRITING

    1st: Kathy Locke, Toyota Cruisers and Trucks magazine, “My Journey to Rebelle

    2nd: (tie) Sue Mead, Outdoorx4, “Baja Boot-Maker Glickenhaus Now Races to Save Lives

    2nd:(tie) Jonathan Hanson, Outdoorx4, “Super Duty Ford: Dilemma or Solution?


    TAWA EXCELLENCE IN CRAFT COMPETITION


    MAGAZINE WRITING

    1st: Mercedes Lilienthal, Tread Magazine

    2nd: Sue Mead, Automotive Map

    3rd: Michael Satterfield, The Gentleman Racer

    ·       Scotty, Reiss, A Girls Guide to Cars. There’s some very good automotive journalism going on at Agirlsguidetocars.com. Founder Scotty Reiss and a solid roster of contributors would, as you’d expect, have a slightly different take on automotive journalism than the traditional white male author, and that’s a welcome addition to the plethora of fare out there.

    ·       Kristin V. Shaw, TODAY Parents. Kristin takes us for a 90-degree turn from where you think she’s headed in a moving column titled “My Dad Taught Me How to Recover From a Crash” at Community.today.com. Nicely done.

    ·       Natan Tazelaar, Vintage Motorsport magazine. Natan writes a detailed, comprehensive biography of the underrated Siata 208 S sports car.

    ·       G.R. Whale, Pickuptrucktalk.com. Greg hits all the right notes in his review of the Lexus GX460, making a fairly mundane SUV into something worth reading about.  


    NEWSPAPER WRITING

    1st: Mercedes Lilienthal, New York Times, “Driving Across the Globe to Fight Child Trafficking

    2nd: Jordan Golson, North State Journal, “Impressive excess: The 2020 Lexus LX 570 review

    3rd: Mercedes Lilienthal, New York Times, “Life on the Road in Pandemic America


    RADIO

    1st: The Automotive Reporter, Harold Gunn and Wayne Cronin, “Interview with Ford Historian Robert Kreipke: The History of the Model A

    2nd: The Car Pro USA Radio Show, Jerry Reynolds, “Car Pro on the CEO of Ford

    3rd: The Car Pro USA Radio Show, Jerry Reynolds, “Interview with Good Morning America's Adrienne Bankert


    WEB DESIGN

    1st: GarageDeluxe, Greg Riley, “Rolls Royce Cullinan Test Drive” AND (tie) “History of Jaguar”

    2nd: Jesus Garcia, The Drive, “Rebuilding high-school GMC

    3rd: Bill Owney, MotorcarsNow.com, “Camry Hybrid Test Drive


    VIDEO - Tie for First

    1st: The Fast Lane Truck, Andre Smirnov, Tommy Mica, and Roman Mica; “Small Jeep vs. Large Ford Truck On the World’s Most Beautiful Trail! No Pavement Needed Ep. 2”  

    2nd: Kitty’s Glam Rides, Natalie Merola-Garcia, “2021 Kia Seltos SX Turbo AWD: It’s Under $30K?!”  

    3rd: (tie) CarProUSA, Amy Plemons; “2020 Lexus NX 300 F Sport Review

    3rd: (tie) The Fast Lane Car, Roman Mica and Tommy Mica; “Nail Biter: We Race Two Budget Off-Roaders Up a 12,000 Foot Mountain Top! Montezuma Challenge Ep.1


    PHOTOGRAPHY

    1st: Mike Satterfield, The Gentleman Racer, “First Drive: 2020 Bentley Bentayga Speed”   

    2nd: Kristin Shaw, Drive Mode Show, “Glowing Yellow and Stormy Sea Sonata at Four Peaks-Off Road, Arizona

    3rd: Elias Garcia, Revmatch Media, “Super Lap Battle at COTA 2020


    PR/MARKETING PRESS KITS

    1st: Mazda, 2020 Mazda CX-30 Vehicle Press Kit


    For judge comments and profiles click here. 


  • Friday, October 23, 2020 2:12 PM | Amy Plemons (Administrator)


    TAWA ANNOUNCES 

    2020 TEXAS TRUCK RODEO FINALISTS


    Bee Cave, TX – Oct. 22, 2020 –  A successful 2020 Texas Truck Rodeo is in the rearview mirror! With social distancing and safety protocols in place during this unprecedented year, the Texas Auto Writers Association held its 2020 Texas Truck Rodeo in the Texas Hill Country in October. 

    Twenty-seven Texas Auto Writers Association members traveled to Star Hill Ranch outside Austin on October 5-6, 2020, to evaluate 39 trucks and SUVs on a new off-roading course designed for the event. Sue Mead, an accomplished off-roading journalist and member of the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame, was the 2020 Texas Truck Rodeo course director, overseeing the construction and design executed by Offcamber Design. Drivers had the opportunity to drive the vehicles on-road as well.

    Along with voting on Truck of Texas and SUV of Texas, members judged vehicles in ten sub-categories including Full-Size Pickup Truck of Texas, Off-Road Pickup Truck of Texas, Luxury SUV of Texas, Mid-size SUV of Texas and Compact SUV of Texas. Vehicles are measured on their interior, exterior, value, performance and personal appeal.  

    TAWA organizers took special care in event planning, making program changes to address the pandemic. Those included safety protocols that included requiring face masks, sanitizing vehicles between drives and creating a two-wave event to limit the number of journalists present at one time. TAWA thanks our participating members, automakers and press fleets for their support.

    2020 TEXAS TRUCK RODEO FINALISTS

    TAWA is now pleased to announce the finalists in select categories (in alphabetical order.) All winners will be announced November 5th in a Live Facebook Event on the Houston Auto Show Facebook Page. 

    Truck of Texas

    • 2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon
    • 2021 Ram 1500 Limited Longhorn 10th Anniversary
    • 2021 Ram 1500 TRX

    SUV of Texas

    • 2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat
    • 2021 Kia Telluride SX
    • 2021 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro

    Full-Size Pickup Truck of Texas:  

    • 2020 Nissan Titan Pro-4X CC
    • 2021 Ram 1500 TRX 
    • 2021 Toyota Tundra Trail Edition

    Mid-Size Pickup Truck of Texas:  

    • 2021 Jeep Gladiator Mojave
    • 2021 Jeep Gladiator Overland EcoDiesel
    • 2021 Toyota Tacoma Trail Edition

    Off-Road Pickup Truck of Texas:  

    • 2021 Jeep Gladiator Mojave
    • 2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon
    • 2021 Ram 1500 TRX

    Luxury Sport Utility of Texas:  

    • 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit
    • 2020 Land Rover Defender 110SE
    • 2020 Rolls-Royce Cullinan

    Mid-Size Sport Utility of Texas:  

    • 2021 Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy AWD
    • 2020 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
    • 2021 Kia Telluride SX

    Compact Sport Utility of Texas:  

    • 2021 Jeep Cherokee Latitude LUX
    • 2020 Mazda CX-30 Premium Package AWD
    • 2021 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road

    Photography

    All event photography provided by Kevin McCauley. Event images can be found here. All images are for editorial use only and should be credited to Kevin McCauley. For commercial use, please contact Kevin McCauley / capturingthemachine.com

    Sponsors

    TAWA also wishes to thank all of our amazing sponsors for helping to make this year's event possible. Thank you to the Houston Auto Show, Katzkin, Prestige Auto, JBL by Harman and the Austin Auto Show.   

    About TAWA

    The Texas Auto Writers Association was founded in 1987 by automotive journalists who wanted to provide an avenue for professional growth, development, and networking. These professionals sought to create an automotive event that was unique to Texas, and the result was the TAWA Truck Rodeo. Since 1993, Truck Rodeos have been held in San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Granbury and Spring Branch, as well as Dripping Springs and for the past two years at the Star Hill Ranch in Bee Cave, Texas.

    In 2003, TAWA created an event for sedans, sports cars, and other vehicles not eligible for the Truck Rodeo. The Texas Auto Roundup, as the event is called today, was not held in 2020 due to the pandemic with plans to return in the spring of 2021.  For more information, visit www.texasautowriters.org.

    Media Contact: Amy Plemons, amplemons.tvproducer@gmail.com

  • Wednesday, November 20, 2019 8:12 PM | Scott Tilley (Administrator)

    Ram, Kia Win Top Awards in Texas

    Wednesday, November 11, 2019 8:09 PM | Derek Price  

    SAN ANTONIO, Texas — The Ram 1500 and Kia Telluride took home the top awards from the Texas Auto Writers Association's annual Texas Truck Rodeo in October.

    TAWA's journalist members named the half-ton Ram the Truck of Texas for the second year in a row after two days of evaluating vehicles on- and off-road in the Texas Hill Country. The Telluride, a new vehicle recently introduced by Kia, won the SUV of Texas award. The award winners were announced Nov. 20 at the San Antonio Auto and Truck Show.

    "Our journalist members were impressed with the continued capability and refinement in the Ram product line, particularly the 1500 compared to the domestic competitors at the event," said Michael Marrs, TAWA's president. "They also were impressed by the level of luxury and value in the new Telluride. It delivers a lot of practicality and comfort for Texas families."

    Ram won more awards than any other brand at the event. In addition to the prestigious Truck of Texas title, it won the heavy duty, luxury and full-size truck categories, along with several awards for its innovative features.

    Toyota won four awards, including the mid-size and full-size SUV categories with the RAV4 and Sequoia. Jeep's Gladiator and Wrangler won the mid-size pickup and off-road SUV categories, while Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Acura and Volvo also took home awards.

    TAWA's 2019 Texas Truck Rodeo included 56 journalists who evaluated 54 vehicles.

    A complete list of award winners is below.

    The 2019 Texas Truck Rodeo was sponsored by the Austin Auto Show, Big Tex Trailers, DFW Auto Show, Houston Auto Show, Katzkin Automotive Leather, San Antonio Auto & Truck Show, Prestige Auto and Wieck.

    For more information, contact Kristin Shaw, TAWA's Vice President for Events, at kristin.shaw@texasautowriters.org.


    2019 Texas Truck Rodeo Award Winners

    Truck of Texas: 2020 RAM 1500
    SUV of Texas: 2020 Kia Telluride 

    Subcompact Sport Utility Vehicle of Texas: 2019 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk
    Compact Sport Utility Vehicle of Texas: 2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road
    Mid-Size Sport Utility Vehicle of Texas: 2020 KiaTelluride SX
    Full-Size Sport Utility Vehicle of Texas: 2020 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro
    Compact Luxury Sport Utility Vehicle of Texas: 2020 Acura RDX A-Spec SH-AWD
    Mid-Size Luxury Sport Utility Vehicle of Texas: 2020 Volvo XC90 T8 Inscription
    Full-Size Luxury Sport Utility Vehicle of Texas: 2020 Lexus GX 460 Luxury
    Mid-Size Pickup Truck of Texas: 2020 Jeep Gladiator Overland
    Full-Size Pickup Truck of Texas: 2020 RAM 1500 Rebel
    Heavy Duty Pickup Truck of Texas: 2019 RAM 2500 Laramie Longhorn
    Luxury Pickup Truck of Texas: 2020 RAM 1500 Limited
    Off-Road Pickup Truck of Texas: 2019 RAM 2500 Power Wagon
    Commercial Vehicle of Texas: 2019 Mercedes Sprinter Passenger 4x4
    Off-Road Sport Utility Vehicle of Texas: 2020 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
    Best Infotainment System: RAM Uconnect System & Touchscreen Display
    Best Powertrain: RAM EcoDiesel
    Best Towing: RAM Rear Air Suspension
    Best Safety Feature: Toyota Safety Sense P
    Best Driver Assist System: Toyota Panoramic View & Multi-Terrain Monitor


  • Thursday, November 07, 2019 10:55 AM | Kristin Shaw (Administrator)

    BEE CAVE, Texas - November 7, 2019 —The Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA) today announced the nine finalists vying for the coveted 2019 Truck of Texas, SUV of Texas, and Compact SUV of Texas crowns following this year's prestigious Texas Truck Rodeo event in the Texas Hill Country.

    More than 50 journalists drove 40+ trucks and SUVs over the course of a day and a half, putting the vehicles through off- and on-road routes to test the strengths and weaknesses of the trucks’ features and durability. Journalists judged each of the vehicles on five criteria: interior, exterior, performance, value and personal appeal.

    All finalists listed in alphabetical order by manufacturer:

    FINALISTS, TRUCK OF TEXAS

    2020 Jeep Gladiator

    2020 Ram 1500

    2020 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro 4x4

    FINALISTS, SUV OF TEXAS

    2020 Jeep Wrangler

    2020 Kia Telluride SX

    2020 Volvo XC90

    FINALISTS, COMPACT SUV OF TEXAS

    2020 Hyundai Santa Fe

    2019 Mazda CX-5

    2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road

    The trophies for the Texas Truck Rodeo will be presented on November 20 at the San Antonio Auto & Truck Show during the dealer preview gala.

    The 2019 Texas Truck Rodeo was hosted at the unique Star Hill Ranch, an event facility and movie set that has been host to the Texas Auto Writer Association dinners in the past. 

    Manufacturers celebrate the prestigious awards they earn at the Texas Truck Rodeo and often mention the honors in their press releases, promotional materials and campaigns across the globe.

    Sponsors of the 2019 Texas Truck Rodeo included the Austin Auto Show, Big Tex Trailers, DFW Auto Show, Houston Auto Show, Katzkin Automotive Leather, Prestige Auto, the San Antonio Auto & Truck Show, and Wieck.

    About TAWA

    For over 30 years, the Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA) has pursued its mission to promote accuracy and quality in the automotive journalism field. TAWA has grown to become one of the most influential and recognized automotive journalist associations in the United States. Journalist members of the association are among the most respected in the country.

    As part of TAWA’s efforts to serve journalist members who cover the automotive industry, the association annually hosts the Texas Truck Rodeo in the fall. This event gives journalists the opportunity to drive and evaluate vehicles entered by manufacturers. Winners of the Truck Rodeo’s “Truck of Texas” award have announced their awards on national television commercials, and TAWA’s logo has even appeared in Super Bowl commercials.

    Texas Truck Rodeo trophy photo by Kevin McCauley


  • Wednesday, August 14, 2019 1:17 PM | Kristin Shaw (Administrator)


    AUSTIN, TX, August 14, 2019 – Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA) will be hosting its 30th annual Texas Truck Rodeo October 27-19, 2019.

    For 30 years, the Texas Truck Rodeo has been a unique opportunity for journalist members of TAWA to evaluate pickup trucks and SUVs in a side-by-side comparison. This event offers real-time comparisons, which is important as journalists continue to learn about the evolving automotive industry and develop stories for outlets that reach potential consumers. Once the evaluations are completed and the votes from each journalist are accumulated, the prestigious Truck of Texas trophy is awarded.

    Almost 25 percent of trucks in the U.S. are sold in Texas, and many journalists are focused intensely on pickups; winning a head-to-head comparison is a significant award. Strong support from journalists, manufacturers, and sponsors help to keep this event fresh and new.

    Event credential pickup starts at 2:00 P.M CT on Sunday, Oct. 27, and events beginning at 5:00 P.M. CT. Look for more information in the next few weeks. 

    Date: October 27-29, 2019

    Location: Austin, Texas; the Sonesta Hotel will be the media base and the driving will take place at nearby Star Hill Ranch

    Notes for Media

    All participants must be members of TAWA as of September 1, 2019. Active members may reside in Texas or out of state; newspapers, magazines, and web sites - which are accessible anywhere - are applicable.

    Membership is dependent on approval by TAWA board; applicants must have five or more automotive-related articles in the past 12 months to qualify. See https://www.texasautowriters.org/membership/journalist for more information and to apply.

    Notes for Manufacturers

    Registration for vehicles will begin August 21, 2019

    Contact Information

    Kristin Shaw, VP of Events, Texas Auto Writers Association

    kristin.shaw@texasautowriters.org

    512-914-4954


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