Trucks at Work

Calendar time

I love the truck calendars I start getting around this time of year. Regular as clockwork, they start appearing in my mailbox - chock full of spit-shined trucks of various makes and models, rolling iron worthy of any showroom in the world.

One of my favorites is Shell‘s Rotella SuperRigs calendar, now in its 25th year believe it or not. It highlights one-of-a-kind creations crafted from chrome, aluminum, and steel - and 120 owner-operators from across the U.S. and Canada competed for the chance to be pictured in Shell‘s 2008 calendar (along with $25,000 in cash prizes - not too shabby, if I say so myself).

Curtis Christians of Rockford, MO captured “Best of Show” honors, taking home a cash prize of $10,000 for his 2005 Peterbilt 379 tractor and 2005 Great Dane trailer, which you‘ll see on the cover. But on the back is a special “before and after” montage detailing the transformation of Bob and Geri Martin‘s 1995 Peterbilt 379. They won a special $50,000 truck makeover from Shell, with the work done by S&J Truck Sales. I‘ve seen this truck myself up close and let me tell you it‘s a beauty.

Yet these calendars are becoming more than just mere homage‘s to sheet metal. With each succeeding year, the stories behind the trucks and their owners are on display - perfectly captured vignettes that offer interesting and sometimes poignant insight into the human lives in trucking, not only in the U.S. but also from across the world.

Here‘s a perfect example: Volvo Trucks North America‘s 2008 calendar. There are 12 great stories in here, each told with a handful of photos and well-crafted prose. There‘s the Tracy family, owner of Dot Foods, plying the refrigerated trade across the U.S. In Scotland we meet David McPherson, CEO of another family-owned business, McPherson Transport, which transports whiskey and other related products (and oh don‘t I want to go visit THESE guys!) There‘s Nicolas Ancazi, deftly picking his way along narrow mountain roads in Bolivia, and tattoo-covered Neil Roddham, who‘s spent 14 years driving massive oilrig trucks across the burning sands of Yemen and Oman.

The one that really caught my attention, though, is Jay Haripersad‘s story. When he decided to make trucking his livelihood in 1978, driving was the one thing he couldn‘t do in South Africa at the time, then suffering under the brutal heel of apartheid. A person of color, like Jay, would've faced fines, fail time or worse if they drove a truck - a privilege reserved for only whites. But he persevered and today is CEO of Westmead Carriers - and his trucks sport some eye-popping designs, too; a testament to the African landscape that surrounds him.

There‘s a lot more stories in there (you‘ll find the one about South Korea‘s “Maniac” truck clubs a hoot, I am sure) that go into making this particular calendar more than just a mere collection of dates and beauty shots. And I truly hope this trend sticks around, for I love to read stories like these. They open up a window into the life and times of truckers everywhere, which helps me at least appreciate that much more what this industry does for our country - and indeed the world - every day.