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The making of a SuperFan

May 14, 2018
Peterbilt truck winner Rick McClerkin has been walking this walk all his life.

It was well before owner-operator Rick McClerkin of San Jose, CA, was named Peterbilt Motors Co.’s ultimate SuperFan tha t he was at another big Peterbilt event: a 75th anniversary party he thought up and decided to throw for the truck maker in late October 2014. That event ended up drawing together more than 350 Peterbilt trucks in Stockton, CA, and featured a reunion of 120 past and present Peterbilt employees. More than 5,000 people came from around the world to see the trucks at the truck show and anniversary bash.

It was the kind of event you’d expect a real Peterbilt fanatic would have been behind. At the time, Rick had only been dating his now-fiancée, Kathy Cantaloube, about a month. She didn’t know much about trucks and Peterbilt then, but she recognized the devotion he had to the brand—and it led her to fall for him.

“Just his loyalty to this brand, I love the passion that he has for Peterbilt,” Kathy said. “And that’s what made me fall in love with this guy, because he’s so passionate about it. I love it.

“Since I’ve been with him, I’ve fallen in love with Peter­bilt and the whole Peterbilt world,” she continued. “And I told him if they ever had a contest for Peter­bilt’s biggest fan, he would totally win.”

Well, she called it. At the 2018 Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, KY, in March, Peterbilt named Rick the company’s ultimate SuperFan out of over 1,500 people who entered the contest. McClerkin took home the grand prize: a brand-new Peterbilt Model 567 Heritage, the envy of the show.

That truck, the one-millionth that Peterbilt has built since 1939, will find a home in the museum Rick founded called Roadway Trucks. It’s dedicated to all things Peter­bilt and traces back to Pete’s predecessor company Fageol Motors, with a collection of more than 50,000 drawings, diagrams, brochures and more that are shared with enthusiasts and restorers like McClerkin working on their own dream trucks.

“A lot of my whole life has been Peterbilt, everything I can do,” Rick said. “I go back as far as I can with the his­tory; I go as deep as I can with collecting the brochures and the drawings, the trucks that I have, the plans that I have.

“I go as far as I can with it.”

He’s gone pretty far indeed. This isn’t new for him—it started when he was a kid around five years old and got a chance to ride in a new Peterbilt, and it stuck with him. The truck at the time was a Peterbilt 351, and that’s still his favorite model.

“Those were the trucks that were brand-new when I was a child,” Rick recalled. The 351, whose design is reflected still in Peterbilt’s current 389, “is the father of the Peterbilt mystique,” he added.

From there, Rick was driving Peterbilt trucks even before he got his driver’s license. He started his first job as a trucker when he was 17. His father had found a job in northern California where logging roads were being built way back when, and since it was off-road, he didn’t need a license. He drove a Peterbilt hauling gravel used for the roads. “I didn’t realize when I was young that pride was a factor, but I was amazed with big trucks and Peter­bilt being the ‘class of the industry,’” he said.

These days, in addition to his collection and museum—which offers members of the public tours by appointment on Saturdays—Rick, now 61, hauls sand, gravel, cement barriers, and other construction materials mostly locally with his 2001 Model 379 that he bought new. It earns him a good living and allows him to get home every night.

And now that he’s won the SuperFan contest, he’s looking to the future—and what’s next.

“I’ve done truck shows before, and I want to do that again, maybe start a Peterbilt club someday. I’ve always had that ambition, and I kind of always wanted to wait till I was retired,” Rick said. “Maybe this will give me a reason to retire.”

One in a million! winning a Peterbilt truck

One sure way to command attention in a huge crowd comprised strongly of owner-operator truck drivers: give away a brand-new, screaming red and custom-chromed Peterbilt Model 567 Heritage. And this was no ordinary truck — it’s the one-millionth built by Peterbilt Motors Co., a piece of history in and of itself, that rolled off the OEM’s Denton, TX, production line back in mid-January.

The company’s SuperFan contest drew more than 1,500 entries since it was launched in October of last year and of the five finalists, Rick McClerkin was declared the winner. Peterbilt General Manager Kyle Quinn presented McClerkin the keys to the grand prize during a special ceremony at the Mid-America Trucking Show.

“We’re blown away by the response and each of the amazing stories that each of you shared with us,” Quinn said during the awards event, complete with a shower of ticker tape and videos of all the finalists. “For many of you, Peterbilt is truly a way of life.”

Peterbilt accepted submissions from fans throughout the U.S. and Canada via a dedicated website at from October through December 22 last year before cutting the list down to a final five and then one grand prize winner.

“The Peterbilt brand is built on loyalty; it is the lifeblood of our business,” noted Quinn. “We wanted to reward that loyalty and the one millionth truck milestone was the perfect opportunity. We have the best and most loyal customers and fans in the industry, and I loved to see and hear their stories.”

Courtesy of Chevron, the Heritage Model 567 SuperFan grand prize gets free oil changes up to a million miles, among additional benefits and prizes. Meanwhile, all the Super­Fan runners-up got a check for $10,000 along with $625 to redeem for parts at Peterbilt dealerships.

About the Author

Aaron Marsh

Before computerization had fully taken hold and automotive work took someone who speaks engine, Aaron grew up in Upstate New York taking cars apart and fixing and rewiring them, keeping more than a few great jalopies (classics) on the road that probably didn't deserve to be. He spent a decade inside the Beltway covering Congress and the intricacies of the health care system before a stint in local New England news, picking up awards for both pen and camera.

He's written about you-name-it, from transportation and law and the courts to events of all kinds and telecommunications, and landed in trucking when he joined Fleet Owner in July 2015. Long an editorial leader, he's a keeper of knowledge at Fleet Owner ready to dive in on the technical and the topical inside and all around trucking—and still turns a wrench or two. Or three. 

And he's never without a camera, or so rumor has it.

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