Tiffin Motorhomes Helps Christen Natchez Trace Parkway
On May 21, National Park Service and Federal Highway Administration officials, honored guests, and participants caravanned the 90-mile leg from Clinton to Natchez, Mississippi, to help celebrate the official opening of the final segments of the Natchez Trace Parkway. This 444-mile National Scenic Byway and All-American Road stretches from Natchez, Mississippi, through the northwest corner of Alabama to Nashville, Tennessee. The highway’s last two segments “” approximately 21 miles near Jackson, Mississippi, and Natchez “” were finished in May.
Among the vehicles in the caravan were a group of seven Tiffin motorhomes. Tiffin Motorhomes Inc., C1717, is based in Red Bay, Alabama, less than 20 miles from the parkway.
“We are honored to have been invited to participate in this historic event,” said Jimmy Johnson, president of the Allegro Club, Tiffin’s official owners group. “Tiffin owners, employees, dealers, and suppliers are proud to represent the 7.2 million recreation vehicles on the nation’s roads.”
The Natchez Trace Parkway lies along a route created by American Indians that was heavily used by boatmen from 1785 to 1820 who, once they had floated down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to markets in New Orleans and Natchez, would sell their boats and return north by foot to Nashville and points beyond.
For more information about traveling the Natchez Trace Parkway, visit www.nps.gov/natr; www.byways.org; or www.scenictrace.com.
Workhorse Introduces First Gas Chassis With Six-Speed Transmission; Add-On Air Suspension
Workhorse Custom Chassis, C8291, recently rolled out the first gas-powered motorhome chassis equipped with a six-speed transmission.
Beginning in 2006 on W20, W22, and W24 platforms, Workhorse will use Allison six-speed automatic transmissions rather than the five-speed transmissions previously used. Workhorse has equipped the W24 with the Allison 2100 MH Series transmission, while the W20 and W22 have the Allison 1000 MH Series automatic.
According to company literature, the six-speed transmission will provide enhanced passing and merging acceleration. The six-speed transmission has two overdrive gears, which Workhorse officials note should allow RVers to go down the highway at reduced rpms, providing a quieter and more comfortable ride.
Workhorse Parts also unveiled an aftermarket all-wheel air-bag suspension that is built to fit the Workhorse W20, W22, and W24 chassis.
A Firestone IntelliRide air-spring system monitors road conditions and makes adjustments to the ride. According to product literature, four outboard-mounted air bags help to resist rocking and body sway and make nosedive during braking almost unnoticeable. The system can automatically level the motorhome at the push of a button at a campsite or in parking lots, allowing drivers to raise the motorhome for greater ground clearance or lower the vehicle for lower height clearance.
For more information about the new six-speed transmission or the air suspension system, visit www.workhorse.com or call (877) 294-6773.
Dana Corporation Rolls Out New Single-Drive Axle
Dana Corporation’s Commercial Vehicle Systems group has introduced the Dana Spicer 23060SH single-reduction, single-drive axle to better meet the specific needs of motorhome and school bus manufacturers. The new axle reportedly offers the lightest weight and smallest package of any 23,000-pound single-drive axle in its class.
The Dana Spicer 23060SH drive axle (gross axle weight rating of 23,000 pounds) can be used in motorhome and school bus applications with gross vehicle weight ratings of up to 35,000 pounds, and with engine ratings up to and including 650 pound-feet of torque and 300 horsepower.
Dana’s High Power Density technology was utilized in the axle design to maximize component life and improve impact resistance at greater loads, while also minimizing weight and cost. The 400-millimeter hypoid gearing was specifically designed to increase strength with no additional weight. A broad range of gear ratios from 3.07 to 7.17 is available for maximum flexibility.
Additional features of the Dana Spicer 23060SH include a requirement of only 28 pints of lube for lower life-cycle costs and a 460-millimeter housing bowl diameter, providing added ground clearance with low-profile tires.
Airstream Web Site Helps Families Plan Trips
A new Web site from Airstream, a division of Thor Industries, C847, is designed to engage kids in the process of planning the family trip and provide parents with ideas for making the journey just as much fun as the destination.
The Web site “” www.52weekends.com “” combines stress-free weekend trip ideas, planning tips, and games for families to play during their adventure. With itineraries for short trips that fit into the lifestyle of active families and people who want spontaneity with their free time, the site offers numerous guideposts to help folks make the most of their time on the road.
In the Junior Navigator section, young travelers can play online games, download activities for the journey, and find tips for making the adventure fun for everyone.
“What matters is the quality of time spent with people you care for, and 52 Weekends is about just that “” keeping it simple and finding the road,” said Robert Trent of Velocity7, the company that designed the site.
Lazydays Names Don Wallace Chairman; Elevates John Horton To CEO
Lazydays RV SuperCenter, C1702, announced the appointment of Don Wallace, the company’s founder, to chairman of the board and the promotion of John Horton to chief executive officer. Previously, Mr. Wallace held the position of chief executive officer and Mr. Horton served as chief operating officer.
According to Lazydays officials, these moves were made as part of a succession plan that will allow Mr. Wallace to spend more time developing and implementing the long-term strategic growth plan of the company, while Mr. Horton manages its day-to-day operations.
Mr. Horton began working at Lazydays in April 2001 and assumed the position of chief operating officer in July 2001. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Michigan and an MBA from the University of Texas.
Mr. Wallace founded Lazydays in 1976 and has been the guiding force of the company during its 29-year history. Lazydays began its operations in Tampa, Florida, and relocated in May 1996 to a much larger site in Seffner, Florida, which is 10 miles east of downtown Tampa. The dealership is located on 126 acres with an 86,600-square-foot main building; 1,200 RV display sites; 273 service bays; and 300 RV campsites. The site includes a 40,000-square-foot Camping World store, a Cracker Barrel restaurant, and a Flying J Travel Plaza.
Freightliner Custom Chassis Breaks Ground On New Service Center
Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation, C1905, recently began construction of a new service center at its Gaffney, South Carolina, location with a groundbreaking ceremony on June 3. The facility is being built in conjunction with Spartanburg Technical College and will offer new educational and career opportunities to the citizens of Cherokee County.
The new 12,000-square-foot facility, which is scheduled to open in January 2006, will have six service bays to accommodate more customers and minimize waiting periods. Parking for 12 to 15 motorhomes will be available for overnight customers, and other amenities will include water and sewer capabilities and Internet access for travelers with laptops.
Since its founding in 1995, Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation has grown from 200 employees to more than 900 currently. An additional 100 jobs are scheduled to be added by year’s end. The new employees will include 14 engineers, many coming from the South Carolina University system.
Newmar Introduces The Ventana
Newmar Corporation, C4363, based in Nappanee, Indiana, recently unveiled its newest motorhome, the Ventana, a full-featured diesel pusher priced with a base manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $174,538.
“The Ventana product was introduced to attract new and prospective customers to Newmar’s motorhome family,” said John Sammut, director of motorized sales for Newmar. “The contemporary interior and exterior design features were developed specifically to accomplish this goal. The Ventana gives both our current and prospective customers an excellent alternative in the diesel pusher market.”
According to company literature, the Ventana is a departure from the norm in RV design. From the furniture to the appliances, the styling is bold and modern. The kitchen consists of contemporary, built-in appliances, décor-coordinated solid-surface countertops, and distinctive cabinetry and hardware.
The Ventana is built on a Freightliner raised-rail chassis. The 33-foot floor plans are powered by a Cummins ISB 300-horsepower engine, while 36-foot and 39-foot floor plans are equipped with a Caterpillar C7 330-horsepower engine. A total of nine floor plans are available with double, triple, or quad slideouts.
Three full-paint exterior graphic packages and three interior décor packages are offered. Optional items include a 12-cubic-foot four-door refrigerator with ice maker; Ultraleather furniture; and a round hardwood dinette table.
For more information regarding the Ventana or to find a dealer near you, contact Newmar at (800) 860-0086 or visit www.newmarcorp.com.
Kampgrounds Of America Introduces New “Family Zone”
Kampgrounds of America (KOA), C456, based in Billings, Montana, recently added a new feature to its Web site, www.koa.com, to help RVers take their next family camping trip to a whole new level.
The “Family Zone” is designed to provide families with timely advice, useful checklists, campfire-tested recipes, and activities that can be used during a family outing. Even experienced campers can find tips and new, fun things to do to make their camping trips more enjoyable.
The “Family Zone” is divided into five sections: Camping 101; Family Activities; Camping Recipes; Camping Stories; and Post Cards. Each section includes numerous ideas for family activities that can be enjoyed rain or sun, day or night.
For example, in Camping 101, you’ll find a handy checklist to help you pack; safety and first-aid information when camping; RV maintenance, travel, and safety advice; and information about camping with kids and pets.
To learn more about the many features offered in the “Family Zone,” visit www.koa.com/familyzone.
Airstream Announces Management Promotions
Thor Industries, C847, announced that Dicky Riegel, former president and CEO of Airstream, has been promoted to group president of Thor Industries. Mr. Riegel will report to Wade F.B. Thompson, chairman and CEO of Thor Industries. As a result of this change, Airstream also announced numerous other promotions throughout its management team.
Bob Wheeler has been named president and CEO of Airstream, taking Mr. Riegel’s position. During Mr. Wheeler’s leadership of Airstream’s product development and engineering group throughout the past 3-1/2 years, the company has brought more new products to the market than ever before. He served as a major driver in the company’s process improvement initiatives and was instrumental in expanding Airstream’s relationships with external partners.
Mark Wahl has been elevated to senior vice president, operations. For the past nine years Mr. Wahl managed Airstream’s production group as vice president of operations. In that capacity he demonstrated leadership abilities throughout the Airstream organization.
These and other management changes became effective August 1, 2005.
Insight Guides Adds National Parks West Book
Insight Guides has released its newest title, US National Parks West ($24.95), to its lineup of travel books. This 416-page guidebook to the national parks of the western United States highlights the beauty and splendor of some of America’s most beloved natural treasures, such as Yosemite, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, and Mount Rainier national parks. Stretching from Washington to Texas and from California to Nebraska, the book takes readers on a journey through some of the most remarkable landscapes in the world. The book is presented in a comprehensive format and illustrated with hundreds of full-color photographs and 27 maps.
Key features include a region-by-region gazetteer section, with top attractions highlighted and cross-referenced with detailed local maps; essays describing the history, people, and culture, from ancient origins to the current trend for radical recreation; photo features highlighting some of the parks’ most exotic sights, among them Yosemite’s Half Dome and Yellowstone’s famous geysers; and travel tips with practical listings, including accommodation, entertainment, transportation, and essential contact addresses and phone numbers.
US National Parks West is available at bookstores, through online booksellers, or from the publisher at (800) 432-6277; www.insighttravelguides.com.
Home & Park Unveils New Coach On Sprinter Chassis
Home & Park Motorhomes, C3790, based in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, recently introduced the newest addition to its type B Roadtrek lineup “” the 22-foot RS-Adventurous, built on a Sprinter platform.
The Sprinter is powered by a Mercedes-Benz turbo diesel engine that is said to get up to 22 mpg. The chassis’ Electronic Stability Program (ESP) uses numerous sensors to determine when the vehicle is starting to skid or otherwise lose control and applies the traction control and anti-lock braking systems to regain control. The traction control also improves handling on slippery surfaces. Rack-and-pinion steering and a smooth-shifting five-speed automatic transmission are said to enhance driving pleasure.
The space-efficient engine bay and cab architecture reportedly maximize usable interior length, and the almost vertical exterior side panels provide optimal interior space within an overall exterior width that’s smaller than other full-size vans. The cab is equipped with factory “comfort seats” featuring 10-way adjustability, lumbar supports, and headrests.
The secondary seating in the RS-Adventurous consists of lounge seats designed for improved comfort (they do not convert to beds) or optional captain’s seats for even greater comfort on or off the road. All four captain’s seats swivel for dining, game playing, or conversing. The second row swivels toward the rear for TV viewing. The more comfortable front sleeping is achieved with Roadtrek’s new optional folding mattresses. Stored during the day, they rest on top of the front four seats to provide longer, flat, and more even sleeping surfaces. When extra sleeping positions are not needed, just leave the mattresses at home.
With no gables or cabinets at either end of the galley, the RS-Adventurous is open from front to rear on the driver’s side, with panoramic windows providing daylight and openness. To maximize storage space, a hanging pantry can be added to the rear end of the galley. The unit includes a permanent bathroom with a toilet, vanity sink, and shower.
For more information about the Roadtrek RS-Adventurous, contact Home & Park at (888) 762-3873 or visit www.roadtrek.com.
GE Consumer Finance Acquires E*Trade RV And Marine Lending Business
E*Trade Financial Corporation, C4076, announced that GE Consumer Finance’s Retail Sales Finance unit will purchase E*Trade Consumer Finance Corporation, the company’s RV and marine lending business, for $60 million in cash.
Under the terms of the sale, $3.3 billion in RV and marine assets will remain the property of E*Trade Financial and will continue to be serviced by E*Trade Consumer Finance Corporation under the ownership of GE Consumer Finance, C10406. In addition, E*Trade Financial will retain all assets originated through the transaction closing.
The deal is subject to approval by all regulatory agencies. Following the completion of the sale, GE Consumer Finance’s Retail Sales Finance division will rebrand E*Trade Consumer Finance Corporation. Operations will continue to be based in Irvine, California, and Clearwater, Florida.
New RV/MH Hall Of Fame Construction Under Way
Groundbreaking for the new RV/MH Hall of Fame was held August 2, 2005, in Elkhart, Indiana. The event was led by James McGee, chairman of the RV/MH Heritage Foundation, and was attended by representatives of all major donors, the foundation’s board of directors, the architect, the builder, and area political leaders.
The new 55,000-square-foot facility, located just off the Indiana Toll Road (Interstate 80-90), will include a Hall of Fame gallery where individual leaders are honored; a 5,000-square-foot archival library; a 5,000-square-foot exhibit hall for component exhibits; a 100-seat theater for educational programs; a 5,000-square-foot “Go RVing “” World of Tomorrow” exhibit; and more than 25,000 square feet of space to display historic units from the RV and manufactured housing industries. During phase two of the construction, an additional 15,000 square feet for historic units and a 15,000-square-foot conference and convention facility will be added. The conference facility will allow RV and manufactured housing industry companies and associations, as well as community organizations, to conduct meetings amidst the history of the industries.
Major gifts from Winnebago Industries, C93, of Forest City, Iowa; Thor Industries, C847, of Jackson Center, Ohio; and Champion Enterprises of Auburn Hills, Michigan, assure that each phase of the new RV/MH Hall Of Fame will be completely paid for when completed. Additional gifts from many industry companies and individuals, along with major operational support from the “Go RVing” Campaign, have brought the total amount donated to $6.5 million. The gifts will be used to preserve the history and heritage of the recreation vehicle and manufactured housing industries and to honor the individuals who built the industries. An endowment gift from Roger and Waneta Reynolds will help to assure operational funding.
The RV/MH Heritage Foundation also is holding a Santa’s Sweepstakes raffle to benefit the RV/MH Hall of Fame, Museum, and Library. Tickets cost $100 each, and the grand prize is a 2006 motorhome or manufactured home, or $75,000 cash. Second prize is $15,000, and third prize is $5,000. Prizes from fourth to 100th also will be awarded, ranging from $1,000 to $125. The drawing will be held on December 15, 2005. Only 2,500 tickets will be sold. To purchase a raffle ticket or to find out more about the Santa’s Sweepstakes, call (800) 378-8694 or visit www.rv-mh-hall-of-fame.org.