History of the Show

The Spirit Lives On…
The roots of today’s Tow Expo were planted in the mid-1970s during a picnic in a park in a mountain town east of Seattle by a member of what was then the Washington Tow Truck Association. The gathering was basically a weekend party. Members brought their tow trucks, engaged in impromptu competitions, swapped war stories and enjoyed the camaraderie around a campfire.

In the early 1980s the first event that would be more recognized as a tow show was held at the Lewis County Fairgrounds in Chehalis, Washington. Dubbed a “ tow rodeo,” the event featured Class A truck driving competitions, tow truck beauty contests and a collection of vendors and regional factory representatives. Towing operators from Washington, Oregon and Canada came together and the competitions — especially the beauty contest — were filled with heated but good-natured rivalries vying for impressive trophies and bragging rights. For a time the shows were jointly produced by the Washington Tow Truck Association and the Oregon Tow Truck Association — alternating show locations between the two states — until the early 1990s when the Washington association became the sole producer of the show.

plchldr-content-img-1The shows began incorporating more and or educational sessions such as specialty classes developed from the California Tow Truck Association and in fluenced by Steve ardinale, known nationwide as “ The Godfather of Towing.” The tow rodeo eventually became the Tow Expo, and in 2005 the Washington Tow Truck Association became the Towing and Recovery Association of Washington.
Founded in 1958, it is the oldest continually intact state towing association in the nation.

Today the Tow Expo has grown into a major event that embodies three association goals:

  1. To bring towing operators together from surrounding states and Canada to become acquainted and connect personally and professionally.
  2. To offer quality and beneficial educational opportunities.
  3. To make members aware of legislative issues that can affect their businesses — a vital mission of the association. Our political action committee, Tow Pac, vigorously supports legislative initiatives that are beneficial to Washington towing operators while protecting against negative regulations.

Over the years the show has been held at progressively larger and more accommodating locations, advancing to its current venue: the 50,000-square-foot Greater Tacoma Convention and Trade Center. For the first time, the show floor and tow truck “Show and Shine” will be brought inside this spacious facility with nearby first-rate hotel amenities, excellent banquet facilities, ample parking, and most accommodating staff.

From its humble beginnings of towing operators gathering around a campfire at a local park, the spirit, camaraderie and competition of this unique and time-honored event lives on at the largest indoor towing event in the Pacific Northwest. Join us and be a part of the experience.